I Hate Indiana Jones: Day 60

Day 60: Indiana Jones and the Hole-y Plot (Part 2)

In the last entry, I questioned the Commies' decision to bring Harrison Ford along to find a box that a simple manifest could have more efficiently led them to. Today I'm going to go one degree further, and ask an even bigger question: Why on earth did the Commies think they needed the alien corpse in the first place?

Let's start at the beginning and ask an important question - how did the Commies make the connection between the legend of a lost valley from some five hundred years earlier and a spaceship that crashed in the year 1947? Although there were legends about the valley being the resting place of a crystal skull, what, if anything, could that have to do with a mysterious vehicle that fell from the sky? If you stretch plausibility to its absolute breaking point, I suppose the Commies might have had access to secret enough documents that they could have read the alien's autopsy report, but it seems awfully strange that they would have been looking through those files in the first place. After all, what possible information were they hoping to glean from it? The film gives no indication that there was a known connection between aliens and the lost temple until Harrison discovers the cave paintings on the wall which actually demonstrate the natives worshiping giant alien monsters.

More importantly, though, I have to wonder just what the Commies were hoping to accomplish in stealing the alien's corpse. Even if they somehow managed to make a connection between a crashed alien ship from 1947 and an ancient civilization that no one has any firm records of, what possible reason could they have to have to think finding the alien's corpse is going to give them any clue as to the hidden temple's location? First off, it seems like finding the wreck of the alien's ship would be the higher priority, since it might well have some sort of mapping or navigational system that could provide them with a clear map.

It seems like the only possible reason they have to search for the corpse is the incredible long-shot idea that Cate Blanchett might have been able to use her non-existent psychic abilities to scan the skull's memories. Even this is just the barest, unlikeliest possibility, since it's based on the idea that a reasonable person could assume that some random alien might know where a temple that has gone unused for hundreds of years was located. After all, the aliens clearly abandoned the natives and their temple long before the Conquistadores arrives.

The slight possibility that a fraud psychic might be able to glean clues from a corpse about the location of a city that was lost a thousand years before the alien died seems like awfully thin justification for sending troops to perform a full-on invasion of America at the height of the cold war, doesn't it?

I wouldn't have to spend so much time wondering about the reasons for the Commies' decision to rob Area 51 if the film had ever bothered to give even the slightest explanation for it. If it were just a failure to explain why the Commies thought that stealing the corpse might be a good idea it would be one thing, the real problem lies in the fact that, after going through all the trouble of invading america just to steal a corpse, the Commies do absolutely nothing with it for the rest of the film! Sure, they cart the corpse around with them for the rest of the movie, but it's never used for anything. Then, later in the film, when the jungle chase occurs, the corpse is presumably destroyed, and no one ever says another word about it. Well, if it was that unimportant, what was all the fuss about?

Let's imagine this kind of storytelling at play in Raiders. Harrison Ford would have gone to Nepal, fought the Sherpas and Nazis, rescued Marian, and securd the headpiece of the staff of Ra, only to arrive in Egypt and have Sallah announce that he didn't have to go to all the trouble, the old mystic had a drawer full of them back at his place. The headpiece would have gone into the garbage, rendering the entire action sequence a huge waste of time.

Which, of course, is exactly what happened in the Pyramid of the Crystal Skull. You know, it seems like this fairly major plot hole could have been cleared up - and the movie been infinitely simplified - if the alien skull they'd been looking for had been stored in the warehouse. That way the Commies would have had justification to go to extreme lengths to find it, the film could have kept its opening action sequence, and the filmmakers could have edited out that entire embarrassing graveyard sequence.

It would have been like mercy-killing three crippled, brain-dead birds with a single stone!

1 comment:

Andy said...

Congratulations, you spent 60 days dissecting a summer popcorn film. I can see you have a lot of time on your hands.