Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Questionable Jones No. 3

Spielberg is a talented storyteller. . . usually. That said, the man can do a whole lotta wrong.

Question: "What was the cheesiest moment in the series?"

Scott's Answer: I know I'm preaching to the choir but Shia swinging on the vines in Crystal Skull... but it isn't even that, it's the presence of his new CGI monkey friends. I'm not a Shia hater but it just reeks of "The kids will love this!" and "We have CGI now!" Thanks to the Star Wars prequels, some people have a tendency to blame everything bad in this movie on Lucas but I'll go ahead and blame Spielberg, too. [smile] Also, Marion coaching him on his fencing skills as he duels with Cate Blanchett whilst standing on top of a moving car, all thanks to some awful bluescreen work. ILM must've taken the day off!

Andrew's Answer: I should say the moment Indiana Jones meets Hitler. It's no surprise they got to Berlin on a motorcycle because this was a shark jumping moment and you need a motorcycle if you're gonna jump a shark. Seriously! Why do this? You have a perfectly decent serious film going and suddenly you inject this level of "look at me, I have no one supervising me" directorial moment? Steven, just because you can do a thing does not mean you should do a thing. BUT that's not my pick. I will go with something else from Crusade, which is the stupid moment when the library clerk looks at his stamp because Jones somehow coincides the noise from his smashing through the floor with the moment this guy stamps books. This is cartoon moment deserves to be removed from the culture.

35 comments:

tryanmax said...

Let me start by saying that I can forgive things like the fridge scene in Crystal Skull because the Jones movies are like big-budget adventure serials--not particularly realistic. Instead, I have to go with the intro to the same movie, the teenagers racing through the desert in their T-bucket roadster while Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" plays over the scene. There are smarter ways to inform the audience that this is the 1950s without nodding to American Graffiti. In fact, I think the nuclear bomb scene would've done it.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Interestingly, that was one of the least offensive part of the film to me. LOL!

shawn said...

For me, it will always be the bailing out of the airplane and suriving the fall thanks to an inflatable raft from Temple of Doom that announced, "We aren't going to even wait for supernatural elements to stretch credulity.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, Yeah, that one bugged me. It also bugged me that the Chinese guy let Indi board an airplane that belongs to him and then has his pilots bail out when he could have just signaled them to hold the plane and shot Indi without wasting the plane.

K said...

tryanmax - I'm with Andrew on this one. The Hound Dog scene was, IMO, not just to show it's the 50s, but to create a juxtaposition between the innocence of the American teens vs the evil of the Russian special forces unit.

I'll also go with Shawn's cheesy moment - the raft scene took me right out of the movie.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

As much as I hate on Crystal Skull, I can kinda forgive the fridge scene, too, though it's awfully convenient that the fridge lands in just the right position allowing for Jones to easily get out - what if it had landed with the fridge door facing down? :-)

The "Hound Dog" stuff is pretty harmless. After that, don't they show a subtitle indicating the year anyway?

You want a movie that indicates the time period without being too in-your-face about it? Check out David Fincher's underrated Zodiac - just the right amount of period detail (watch the Coke machines throughout the film) without being too obvious.

ScottDS said...

Andrew and shawn -

I'm a Doom defender and I honestly don't have a problem with any of that stuff. Part of it is the way it's all structured - it's just one gag after another, each one topping the last. Sure, if the raft/plane gag existed in a vacuum, I'd have a problem with it, too, but I almost consider it the climax to a 20-minute mini-movie. And we get to relax for a while afterwards.

ScottDS said...

K -

Good call on the juxtaposition. Nice to know at least some thought may have gone into that movie. :-)

Say what you want about Spielberg and Lucas but both are fans of classic Norman-Rockwell-style Americana and this was a good example of it.

Tennessee Jed said...

o.k., Shia "hater" is probably overstated, but definitely overrated. To me, even in his best films, Spielberg often managed to put in one little scene that was just too "cute" for it's own good. I'll try and think of some good examples.

rlaWTX said...

I have only seen Crystal Skull once (one time too many), so no comments there.

I always looked at the 3 "real" movies as cheesy, rambunctious fun, so I guess the cheesiness hasn't bothered me. There are moments when I've noticed that there would have been much easier ways to do something, but doing it the easy way would end the movie - and those points make me wonder if there was a less obvious way to get there from here. But the cheese generally just adds to the gooey wonderfulness :)

AndrewPrice said...

K, That's true, it really is meant to show American innocence as well. I don't have a problem with it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The entire opening to Doom rubs me wrong. So much of it doesn't make sense and so much of it feels fake or like I've seen it before. But the real killer is the raft bit for me because it just doesn't even begin to feel real.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Agreed about Spielberg, he always includes something that shouldn't be in the film.

On Shia, I don't dislike him as much as I used to and he doesn't actually bother me that much in this film. I think the bigger problem is that he's just useless in the film.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, the cheese generally just adds to the gooey wonderfulness

LOL! Nice! :)

tryanmax said...

rlaWTX, good point. These films are all about cheese, so it's hard to say if pointing out the cheesiest moment should be a slight or a compliment. And they are also about nostalgia, so I can "understand" how the drag-race works in, though to me it's every bit as ham-fisted as Indy meeting Hitler. In any case, it sets a tone for the film to follow which the film admittedly does follow. But in light of what Crystal Skull was, can that be thought of as a good thing?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and rlaWTX, I have to say that I honestly never saw the first film as cheesy, so that was a problem I had with the later films.

As for something good coming out of Crystal Skull, yeah, I don't know that you can say anything "good" came from those movies... maybe "least bad"?

PikeBishop said...

I don't know if its "cheesiest" or weakest, but in Last Crusade where the villain, who has spent his life seeking the grail, accepts a gold and jewel embossed vessel as the cup of the carpenter from Nazareth. No way! Guy would have known better.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I kind of wondered about that at times too, although they do point out that neither the villain nor Elsa really saw the cup for what it was, they saw it as simple treasure, which is why they both got whacked.

BIG MO said...

I’m with Shawn on the raft bit from Temple of Doom -- though that silliness was upstaged by an even bigger miracle of physics: During the mine car chase, our heroes’ car leaps off the tracks, sails over a gorge and lands perfectly on the rails on the other side. Because of those two feats, I easily forgive the triple waterfall plunge in Crystal Skull.

But the one that bothers me most is the cheesy portrayal of the Nazis in Last Crusade. That film’s Col. Vogel was a cartoon, unlike Raiders’ Col. Dietrich, who seemed like a real villain with a small bit of character depth. The aforementioned Hitler scene was just silly, as was the secret “war room” in the castle, complete with frantic moving of little models over a map of Europe as if the war was already underway. The point is, they never seemed menacing enough in Last Crusade, unlike Raiders, where they were a real threat.

Anthony said...

Worst scene? Anything involving Shia. Shia is not a young Harrison Ford. It was like trying to sell Urkel as the son of Shaft.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo, I felt the same way about the Nazis in Crusade, they were a cartoon, which the ones in Raiders were not.

Yeah, the mine car jump was downright stupid.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, LOL! Urkel as the son of Shaft. Bravo! That's a brilliant analogy!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Shia in his Brando entrance was LOL funny to me. I think I coughed out some popcorn out when he did that. I'm not a Shia hater, but that getup was not good.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Yeah, it was a little too much, wasn't it? He should have lost the hat at least.

ScottDS said...

Jed and Andrew -

The one film of Spielberg's where the "cutesy" moments really bother me is Minority Report, from the quick shot of their rocket packs "barbecuing" meat on a grill to Peter Stormare's snotty (literally!) character... to, yes, the eyeball rolling down the hallway.

Humor is always appreciated but in a movie like that, it should've been much darker and/or subtle and not, well, "Spielbergian."

ScottDS said...

BIG MO -

As much as I love Crusade, Spielberg did manage to turn the Nazis into cartoons in that one. I think he later said, post-Schindler's List, that he could never do Nazis again.

As for the mine car in Doom, I've mentioned before the "domino theory of reality" which the filmmakers talk about on the Ghostbusters commentary. If you ask the audience to believe something small in the beginning, they'll believe something big in the end.

This doesn't quite apply to the raft bit but in the case of the mine car chase, the gags are easier to swallow (at least a little bit) after everything else we'd seen for the previous 90 minutes.

ScottDS said...

Floyd -

Ah, the Wild One reference. It works for the character but it is a bit hard to believe, like a kid playing a biker in a school play. :-)

(And Mr. Plinkett already pointed out, why'd he bring his motorcycle on the plane? It's never seen again after that!)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Scott... it would have been better to have Shia in a wife beater in the rain... Hey Irina! IRINA!!! And then after he gets his ass kicked by her... "I coulda been a contender!"

The 1950s Brando trifecta! Of course -- for humor's sake he could've had Shia enter dressed as Napoleon. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yeah, those are moments that Spielberg should have left out of Minority Report.

I agree about the domino theory of reality, but there are still limits, and violations of physical reality really test those limits. In other words, it's easier to believe in a massive marshmallow creature than it is to believe in a mining car jumping the tracks and landing on other tracks.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Yeah, I suppose I can't argue with that, though I still maintain some gags are easier to swallow simply by virtue of how they're edited and where they are located in a film.

I'm trying to think of other "cutesy" moments but I'm coming up empty. Oh, I know... the 5-second gag in A.I. with the robot voiced by Chris Rock being thrown out. Talk about being taken out of a movie! Robin Williams as the knowledge hologram "Dr. Know" is okay, but Chris Rock's voice is rather distinctive and it reeks of Spielberg going through his Rolodex looking for famous people.

As an aside...

...that's one thing that bugs me about Spielberg's movies lately. He can cast whoever he wants yet he insists on putting well-known actors in even small parts. Certainly not all the time, mind you, but on the other hand, why is Ted Danson in Saving Private Ryan? It's only one scene but think of all the starving actors who could've played that role instead.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't know. I guess he likes to feel famous? I personally prefer unknown actors in most roles because it's hard not to see the person as an actor when you know them from somewhere else.

ScottDS said...

Speaking of Indy, watch this. It's short.

Sounds about right. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, LOLOL!! When they did the "starring" I actually spit out my drink... "Sh*t Thebed"!

Dave Olson said...

Let's face it, IJ movies are all cheesier than a Wisconsin whorehouse. Spielberg and Lucas have said ever since ROTL that they were just making "better" versions of the old Saturday morning matinees they watched in their youths. The results are half-and-half, in that Raiders and Last Crusade are great, while Doom and that other one stink on hot ice.

This is not to say that the good ones don't have cheesy moments. The Inca tomb in Raiders seems to have an advanced photosensor system that triggers a spring-loaded pitchfork. The German Army manages to stage a massive operation in the Egyptian desert, despite Egypt being a British colony at the time. And Indy just happens to duck into the very tent where Marion is hogtied. I won't mention how Indy was able to stay on the submarine halfway across the Mediterranean because in the novel it was explained that he lashed himself to the periscope with his whip. (Subs didn't travel underwater all the time back then; they only submerged for combat. Underwater running as shown in the movie meant that either the periscope or the snorkel would have been up.)

Last Crusade had plenty of cheese too. For me, the cake-taker was Indy's hat rolling to him after he escapes the tank. Very obviously thrown to Harrison by some off-camera flunky.

ScottDS said...

Dave -

(Uh, nice opening metaphor.) :-)

You're right, of course. Distilled to their essence, the films are nothing more than homages to the serials of old, but with better technology. However, I believe, even taking that into account, that there is still a right way and a wrong way of doing things. Some screenplays are simply better than others and the script for Raiders does more things right than wrong while the script for Skull is vice versa.

And it's been mentioned before that if a movie is good, we tend not to pause to think about the flaws. If a movie isn't good, then our minds wander and we're like, "Oh yeah, what about X, Y, Z, etc." :-)

Post a Comment