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June 08, 2008

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Ah, the fridge... Heck, why did people build bomb shelters in the 1950s when a fridge would have done the trick? Still, once ignored the absurdity of the whole thing, that scene was creepy, especially when Indy looks up at the mushroom cloud and it briefly takes on the shape of a skull.

But that is another symptom of the movie. The threat of the Bomb is irrelevant to the story. Natasha's... I mean... Blanchett's telepathic powers are irrelevant to the story because she can't get inside Indy's head. The FBI blacklists Indy for what they see as suspicious unAmerican activities, and he loses his job, but that's irrelevant to the story and he inexplicably got his job back by the end.

Still, I liked the movie while it was going on. It was all very silly. I was amused at the subtlety of red ants taking a Red inside their nest. And I was glad that Marion was back.

I'm not sure I'd want to see it again, and part of me wishes that Last Crusade HAD been Indy's last adventure with him riding into the sunset with his father and his friends.

Serge, you're thinking about plot and logic. Don't do that; it will hurt. Just think about car chases and stunts and SFX. It will be better that way.

I was happy with Last Crusade, but I wasn't as unhappy with this one as I'd half-expected to be. I just have to not think too much about it lest I get swallowed up by the giant black plot holes liberally sprinkled throughout.

I don't expect to have this problem with Iron Man on Tuesday. In between action scenes I can distract myself with Robert Downey Jr.'s thick and fluffy dark hair. His goatee. His deep, dark eyes. His extremely buff and sweaty chest. His manly biceps. And, oh yes, what I am reliably informed are no less than three gratuitous rear-end views. I'm told that the movie has a plot, too, but I don't think I'll be worrying too much about it.

Yes, leaving one's brain outside of the theater does help. It's also better not to be accompanied by a writer. Oh, and to answer one of your questions, yes, you did see the Ark of the Covenant.

As for Iron Man, there are a few places where the plot requires you not to look too closely, but overall it holds together. As for your prime motivation for this examination of cinema, you will probably love the scene where Downey Jr is building his first armor. A few hints as to that. Sleveless t-shirt. Hammer. Anvil.

I think I already have that still stored on my laptop for regular admiring. :) (Along with a facial closeup, a tuxedo shot (yum!), and the "this is my ARM!" still.)

I'm actually not all that into muscles, but combined with the facial visuals, I'll take 'em.

On dealing with movie illogic: I find that a good substitute for "drink the Kool-Aid" is to drink a red-flavored Icee. (I think it's supposed to be some fruit flavor, but the percentage of real fruit is sufficiently low that the correct flavor is "red".) When combined with regular infusions of popcorn, this will put your logic centers into temporary stasis and the plot holes will be more funny than annoying.

Remember to stay for all the credits at Iron Man. I might not have if Steven Barnes had not forewarned of a surprise afterwards.

I always stay for the credits. I was sorry it didn't pay off at the Indy film.

I've heard that, if one looks closely, one may catch a glimpse of Captain Ameica's shield somewhere in Tony Stark's place.

Cursed typo. It's Captain America's shield.

Can anyone tell me why Indy didn't use his whip to get out of the dry sand pit? Was there an actual reason or was it just necessary setup for the snake joke?

Susan... Want some red-flavored Icee?

The Indy films have had a supernatural streak from day one with the Ark of the Covenant (...) I'm not sure I cared much for adding skiffy stuff to the mix.

On the other hand... I remember quite well when I first saw Raiders. Thru most of the movie, it was a straight no-holds-barred adventure. No real inkling as to what the Ark would really turn out to be. Then, there was that scene in the ship's cargo holds and the Ark's wooden container suddenly getting blackened from inside, and that's when the story became Something Else.

(That of course brought up some things that were hard to explain. Why was Indy dismissive about the supernatural at the beginning of Raiders when Temple of Doom, which was a prequel, showed him running into plenty of Unusual Occurences?)

(By the way, George Lucas originally wanted to have the last film be called Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars. Luckily Spielberg and Ford shot that one down fast.

Temple of Doom was a prequel? I don't think I ever realized that. Of course, I was mostly trying to erase it from my memory, since I thought it was horrifically bad.

They didn't have parking meters in the 1950s? I can remember them in London in the 60s.

Film is always absurd. In the especially absurd Countryman, the eponymous character runs from Hellshire beach to Port Maria in about two minutes. This is a world land speed record (40 miles over mountains in two minutes).

Not the high-tech card-reading meters New Haven has, apparently!

(Just checking - this is Jamaica we're on with Hellshire and Port Maria?)

By the way, what happened after you picked up that giant camera? Did you get arrested by Harrison Ford?

I picked it up and realized from the (lack of) weight that it wasn't a real camera, but I still thought it was cool and wanted to buy it. I was looking for a price tag when a harried props person came over to tell me that these were props, not a sidewalk sale.

It looked like a sidewalk sale - all the props were in bins on tables on the sidewalk in front of stores that routinely put merchandise out in this way. Easy mistake, anyone could make it.

a harried props person came over

No Harrison.
What a letdown.

We went to see it yesterday (spouse, blessed with Too Much Vacation, is taking Mondays off for a while). As long as you put your head in the spot where adventure movies are supposed to take place, it was fine. Where it fell down, IMO, was in the complete lack of the cinematic money shots like the one in RoLA where they're looking out over the Arab city as night falls. Those shots are the sort of thing you remember about the film later. For KotCS, I have nothing like that, and so I'll likely forget the whole thing.

I'll admit I did have trouble with the rather close relationship between interspatial portals and rapidly spinning flying saucers--they seemed rather confused about what they were actually trying to show, and all the boulders seemed recycled from the rock creatures in Galaxy Quest.

I really liked Marian's demonic grin as she was driving the jeep.

Does anyone else besides me think Cate Blanchett might do a fair job of playing Modesty Blaise?

BTW, Susan, have you ever seen a movie chase (or even a movie) in a location with which you were intimately familiar that did *not* involve massive suspension of geographic disbelief? For me, "Nudo del Donna" (set in Venice) and "Slacker" (set in Austin) both fall down heavily.

That was Jamaica I was on, yes.

joann... Cate Blanchett as Modesty? Now that is an interesting idea, even though my top-choice for the role would be Gabrielle Anwar. Not that Quentin Tarantino would listen to what I have to say on the subject.

Susan, I don't remember the sequence well enough to be sure why Indy didn't use his whip to get out of the sand, but some possibilities come to mind:

1. It had already sunk under the sand before he thought of it.

2. He didn't have it with him. (They did leave the camp in a hurry, after all. And that's if the Reds hadn't already confiscated it.)

Speaking of ridiculous movie chase-scene geography, there's an early episode of MacGyver set in Budapest with a car chase that must have been amusing to any inhabitants of that city - the city's geography hasn't just been rearranged, it's been expanded to include chunks of Turin. (Yes, the entire episode's plot is a contrived excuse to recycle the car chase footage from The Italian Job...)

Another early MacGyver episode that features lots of recycled footage (from a nature documentary, this time) is the one set in the Amazon with the rampaging swarm of ants. The obligatory scene with somebody getting overpowered by the ants featured Peter Jurasik, who went on to star in Babylon 5. (I'm not sure which was most disconcerting: seeing him playing a nice guy, hearing him speak with an American accent, or seeing him with his real hair.)

Which reminds me that there's another MacGyver episode which guest-stars A Nightmare on Elm Street's Robert Englund as a perfectly ordinary human being - now that was disconcerting - but I can't think of a way to tie it in to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so I'll stop burbling now.

Paul A... Did you know that, before the Nightmare movies, Englund played a perfectly ordinary human being in the series "V"? Let me amend that. He played an alien lizard geek made up to look human.

Susan... I don't think it's be enough to make you want to see the Hulk movie, but Robert Downey Jr. appears at the very end.

Robert Downey Jr. is HOT HOT HOT!!

Ahem.

Sorry. Reflex. Only when he's playing Tony Stark.

I've seen at least part of that scene in the trailer. Not sure I want to see the whole movie, since my interest in giant muscle-bound heroes is rather less than in witty, brilliant heroes, but I'll make sure to see that scene when the DVD comes out. I can see Marvel's habit of crossover stories is going to be in full swing in the current and near-future batch of films. (The Iron Man/Avengers crossover is set up as well.)

Crossovers? Heck. The Hulk movie is about a bioweapon program being restarted that had begun early in WW2. Yes, there is a Captain America movie in the works.

Superheroes that are basically muscle men. I shrug in their general direction. I hope there will be a separate Iron Man sequel.

At least, this muscleman story had Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, and Liv Tyler as Betty Ross.

As for a separate Iron Man sequel... I think the god Thor is supposed to show up.

I don't consider Ed Norton necessarily a plus, you know, since I thought he was kind of a jerk in college and haven't seen him since. I don't even know who Liv Tyler is.

Tell me the Thor thing is a joke. Please.

Oh, Liv Tyler played Arwen in the Lord of the Rings movies.

As for Thor... I think it's not a joke, but maybe I'm remembering wrong and it's the Avengers movie that he'll show up in, along with Captain America after the latter has been in a WW2-set movie.

I think Thor was part of the Avengers so that makes sense. I just can't see him as part of a dynamic duo movie team with Tony Stark.

Meanwhile, the last time Stark and Thor met in the comics, they were anything but buddies. Stark, who was involved with the Superhero Registration Act, tried to bring in the recalcitrant god. It ended with Thor using his hammer and Ironman for a baseball homerun.

As for the Avengers... I'll probably go see the movie, but frankly I have never been a fan of superhero groups unless they have an organic reason to be together. The Fantastic Four may be too white-bread for some, but they are a family, while the X-men are creating a family.

Liv Tyler is also the daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler.

The Fantastic Four never appealed to me because the only female character struck me as dull and insipid, and wife-and-mother is not a role I particularly identify with. I think the X-Man appealed to me for the obvious reason that they're a bunch of weirdo misfits that society just doesn't understand, much like science fiction fandom, and much like teenage me.

Also, you know, it was all that Hellfire Club stuff.

Yeah, Sue Storm/Richards was never that interesting. I guess what had originally appealed to me about the FF was that it was the first time I had come across a superhero who looked like, but didn't act like, a monster. That reminds me of a couple of years ago when I went to the barber for a haircut and, as I sat down, I smiled to the 3-year-old girl sitting next to me and she gave me a get-lost-weirdo look and pretty much ignored me. Until I took out my comics. I spent the next 30 minutes answering her questions, explaining that Mystique over here IS a bad guy, but that Ben Grimm over there really is a good guy.

As for the X-men... Yes, that is pretty much the same thing that appealed to me. Do you have a favorite mutant? Like I said earlier, my favorite has always been and remains Hank McCoy.

My favorite was Illyana Rasputin/Magik (technically, a "New Mutant" rather than an actual X-Man.) I was also quite fond of Phoenix/Dark Phoenix.

I remember Peter's sister. Whatever happened to her? (There was a long period that started in the late 1980s when I pretty much didn't read any of the X-men comics.)

They un-Magik'd her at some point and regressed her back to being a six-year-old, which made her much less interesting to me. I'd stopped following the X-Men stuff by then so I don't know the details.

There seems to be a rule in comics that young characters who age abruptly from pre-teen to adolescence must eventually go back to pre-teen. Having to go thru that twice? Or thrice? Yuch.

Well, she hardly went through it normally the first time, having been trapped in Belasco's Limbo. And I think they killed her off before she got to go through it in real time (as real as Marvel time ever gets).

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