Another week and another trip to the cinema, it's certainly become something of an addiction of mine thus far into 2008, and with at least two other must see flicks in the next couple of months or so, it's most likely not about to stop.
So here we are, pretty much two decades since the last Indy movie, and as I was predicting it's suffering the same critical fate as Land of the Dead did. A loved, revered and established trilogy gets a new sibling 20 years after the last ... well, crusade.
Some people are decrying it as garbage, others are saying it's just the same as the other movies ... as for me, I'm somewhere in the middle. I never ever expected it to best either Raiders or Last Crusade, but figured it'd either beat or at the very least tie with Temple of Doom somewhere in the back of the pack.
My assumptions on my own opinion were indeed correct and this is where I stand. While it's a little bit too far fetched at a couple of junctures, twice in one set piece even, it never strides into territory where I'm still not entertained. In fact, the first truly far fetched sequence I absolutely had a blast during (aptly enough) ... it even tied into the quintessentially 1950s vibe of the film (while the predecessors were quintessentially 1930s, in that serial adventure vein in which the Jones films were forged).
Shia LaBeouf, as in Transformers and Disturbia, can do no wrong. The lad is consistently entertaining and talented, bringing a genuine warmth and humour to his roles which sit nicely with the audience. As for Ford, he certainly doesn't look too old for this film, not a jot - if Stallone can do Rambo aged 61, then Ford can do Indy 4 ... and pull it off he most certainly does.
It makes several nods to the previous films, but it never really obstructs proceedings too much, their inclusion feeling natural and necessary.
Mind you, it does get a bit wobbly half-way in before picking up ... at which point you're either with it till the end or you're lost for good. Indeed, what with it being the 1950s it is all a bit sci-fi ... but sci-fi in a jungle with blow pipes, monkies, copious cobwebbing and vines.
I say you're either with it by the end or not, and I stand by this. It does all get quite far fetched ... but then again Last Crusade featured a knight in a cave guarded by an invisible 'faith bridge' who'd been there for centuries guarding Jesus' dad's coffee cup. Raiders has the Ark of the Covenant, look at it and your face melts off ... and then there was Temple of Doom ... well, nuff said beyond monkey brains and that nutter tearing hearts out.
Needless to say Indy 4 will be the awkward sibling of the other three, tight-knit brothers. The new kid on the block will have to work to fit in with the rest of the franchise, but that was always going to be the case, so ignore that as much as possible - indeed, I purposefully didn't re-watch the first three prior to seeing the latest installment so that I could judge it purely on it's own.
I think one of the problems many of the film's detractors will have with it, is that they grew up watching Raiders, Temple and Crusade. There's a special place for them in their hearts and they don't look kindly upon shedding any negative light upon them. They don't like to seek out their flaws in order to cut the new kid on the block some slack ... indeed I can understand such a mindset.
Having re-watched many of my childhood favourites on DVD, I've rekindled my love for them and gone back in time to when I first viewed them. I recaptured that magic and wonder, but equally - perhaps this is exclusively down to my film school background though - I've also spotted the flaws, the audience-acknowledging smug bits, the lesser quality sequels and so forth ... but I still love them just as much, certainly not less.
With this in mind, I've cut Indy 4 some slack, but I do wonder if Lucas, Spielberg and Co's venture to recapture the magic and fun they had on set didn't fully translate to the film ... or at least the script, which is where any of the film's flaws originate.
Regardless, it's a fun romp and good to see Ford back in the Fedora. Certainly not the best - but it never was going to be - so it's at least as good as Temple of Doom, and frankly that's as much as could ever have been realistically expected ... so just enjoy it.
At least they didn't do a Die Hard 4.0 and water it all down and mutate the formula.