May 22nd, 2008

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008) *

Okay, so you automatically know you’re in trouble when you’re watching a sequel and crystal skulls are a main plot point.  Remember House 2:  The Second Story?  Well my friends, this long awaited entry into George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones franchise makes House 2 look like Raiders of the Lost Ark.  In fact, this is probably the worst piece of shit Spielberg ever made. 

 

That’s right folks; we’re talking worst than Hook, here. 

 

Remember at the end of Raiders when they opened up the Ark and Indy told Marion, “Whatever you do, keep your eyes shut”?  That’s sound advice for anyone who watches this abortion. 

 

Honestly, if I had a choice whether to watch this flick again or look at the contents of the Ark and have my face melted off, I’d choose checking out the Ark.  

 

The plot?  Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) finds out he’s got a kid (Shia LaBeouf) while being coerced by a bunch of psychic Russian agents (led by Cate Blanchett) into finding a crystal skull that was left on Earth by aliens from another dimension.  

 

That’s right, you heard me:  Psychic Russians and aliens.  Yes, ALIENS for God’s sakes. 

 

Okay, I could buy a golden box that melted people’s faces off in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I can understand a cult that can rip a person’s heart out with their bare hands in Temple of Doom.  I could even swallow the idea of a 500 year old knight in The Last Crusade. 

 

What I refuse to believe is that a bunch of aliens with a skull that looks like an expensive incense holder would travel to Earth just to lose their heads (literally) so a bunch of psychic (yes, psychic) Russkies could find them because they want “to know”. 

 

Haven’t Lucas and Spielberg made enough alien movies already?  Did they really need to shoehorn extraterrestrials into this thing?  I think not. 

 

All of these stupid shenanigans might have been tolerable if the rest of the film was any good, but unfortunately, it plays like a limp parody of the previous films instead of an honest to goodness continuation.  (Remember those atrocious Alan Quartermain flicks with Richard Chamberlain from the 80’s?  This one is just as bad.)  The script is a straight-up joke and all the action sequences suffer from sloppy staging, slipshod editing and some of the worst CGI effects you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

 

The part I thought I’d hate most was actually the only thing I enjoyed about the film and that was Shia LaBeouf as Indy’s son.  He holds his own against in his scenes with Ford, but even he seems to be going through the motions this fourth time around.  And why they brought Karen Allen back from the first movie, especially when her role requires her to do little more than just say, “Oh by the way, he’s your son” is beyond me.  And having Blanchett play the sword slinging villainess as if she was Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show is perplexing to say the least. 

 

You know, people always hate on the Star Wars prequels (which I happen to like, so back off), but this shit is indefensible. 

 

Here’s the most telling thing about the movie.  There’s an incredibly ludicrous scene in which Shia swings from a vine a la Tarzan with the help of a bunch of friendly monkeys.  This scene is beyond retarded and documents the fundamental weakness in Spielberg’s filmmaking:  He just has no balls anymore. 

 

In Raiders, monkeys got poisoned and killed.  In Temple of Doom, monkeys got their brains eaten.  In this one, monkeys are CUTE and HELPFUL.  And don’t even get me started on the scene where Blanchett throws the monkey off the cliff and Spielberg feels the pressing need to show us that the monkey landed safely. 

 

Further proof that Spielberg has become a cinematic eunuch is the inexcusable lack of gore.  Raiders of the Lost Ark had the most fucked up thing I’ve ever seen when the dude’s face melted off after looking at the Ark.  (And it was a PG movie, for Christ’s sakes.)  Temple of Doom had the gnarly scene where a heart got ripped out of a dude’s chest while it was still beating.  Last Crusade was kinda weak in the gore department, but it did feature a nifty scene where the villain aged two hundred years in 20 seconds.  IJAKOTCS has nada.  The only “scary” scene is when a bunch of fire ants attack some soldiers, but the effects are so shitty they look like they came from some half-assed Sci-Fi Channel original movie.  The finale where Blanchett gets immolated starts out okay, but her final comeuppance is rushed and unsatisfying. 

 

I thought Spielberg lost his mind in The Lost World when that little girl Gymkata’ed the raptor to death, but this shit takes the cake. 

 

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Crapfest is so bad that it’ll make you yearn for Indiana Jones and the Mystery of the Blues. 

OVERHEARD AT THE LUCASFILM RANCH: 

 

George: Hey Steve, it's time to make another Indy movie.

 

Steve: Okay sure, but why did we have to wait 19 years to make another Indy movie?

 

George:  Well, the Lego market is finally ripe for the picking, and I'm slowly running out of properties to sell to them. If this doesn't go over well, it's Howard the Duck Legos and nobody wants that.

 

Steve: Well what are we going to make Indy 4 about?

 

George: Psychic Russkies, Crystal Skulls and Aliens.

 

Steve: Gee George don't you think we've done aliens to death, I mean I did Close Encounters, ET, AI, War of the Worlds and you did 6 Star Wars movies, don't you think people will balk at us using aliens AGAIN?

 

George: Jesus, Steve, what do you want from me, all I can do is 50's nostalgia and aliens. Besides, I got to sell some Legos somehow.

 

Steve: Point taken, so fine we'll go with aliens. What about those crystal skulls? Isn't it a bad idea to use crystal skulls in a sequel?

 

George: Dammit, Steve it worked in House 2: The Second Story didn't it?

 

Steve: Right you are sir. What about the villain? 

 

George: Well we can get somebody who won an Oscar if you really want, but I'd rather have Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

 

Steve: No problem Beardy, we'll get Cate Blanchett and have her ACT like Natasha from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

 

George: Good thinking Steve, remind me to give you 5% of all the Lego sales. 

 

Steve: Thanks George. Oh by the way, I've been DYING to do some of the stupidest action scenes since I made that little black girl Gymkata that raptor in the Lost World, what do you think I should do?

 

George: How about have Shia being taught by monkeys to swing on a vine like Tarzan?

 

Steve: George, you're a genius can I suck your cock some more?

 

George: Sure Steve. (Silence) Okay Steve thanks I needed that, but next time you do that make sure you wear the Leia bikini.

 

Steve: Yes, Your Flannelness. Now about the effects. 

George: Uh-huh.

 

Steve: I know your ILM company has billions of dollars at it's disposal...

 

George: It's tied up in Lego money, but I got some guys that do those Sci-Fi Channel originals on the fire ant scene, so it's all good.

 

Steve: But George...

 

George: Sorry Steve, you're on your own. I got to take this meeting with the Mr. Potato Head people about making a Shia Tater Tot toy... 

MORE OVERHEARD AT THE LUCASFILM RANCH…

 

Steve: George, I wanted to talk to you about the look of the film.

 

George: Sure Steve. 

Steve: I was thinking maybe a lot of deep reds like
Temple of Doom or earthy tones like Last Cru...

 

George: No, we're not doing any of that Steve.  Every frame of this movie must be over-lit like a Sealy Posture Pedic commercial.

 

Steve: I see...

 

George: You know those infomercials where Chuck Norris and Christy Brinkley are on the rowing machine?

 

Steve: Yeah I love those. 

George: I want the entire movie to look like that.

 

Steve: Sure, George. Now how about the action, I've been telling the press how we're making a return to realistic stuntwork like Old Time Hollywood and...

 

(George falls out of his Huttese throne laughing)

 

Steve: What's wrong George?

 

George: Jesus Steve haven't you learned anything from Attack of the Clones? It's all going to be CGI.

 

Steve: Good call. Now when we get Karen back I'm thinking...

 

George: I'm paying her per word of dialogue so make sure she says less than fifty words in the whole movie, not including "He's your son."

 

Steve: Okay. I can see it now, it'll be just like Luke finding out Vader was his father.

 

George: No actually it'll seem more like Happy Days Meets Tales from the Gold Monkey, but you are right Steve that whole father/son thing is the only plot thing I've ever had up my sleeve. Unless of course there's racing involved.  There IS racing involved, right?

 

Steve: Right at the very beginning. But's it's totally pointless. A bunch of kids drive a jalopy and race the Russkies. It serves no purpose whatsoever. I'm thinking of axing it.

 

George: Don't make me take away your Lego money Steve.

 

Steve: Sorry.

 

George: Well, gotta go now Steve, but let me leave you with this little nugget of advice... CGI groundhogs... HUH...HUH, am I a genius or what? TTFN...

DRACULA A.D. 1972 (1972) **

 

To help update the vampire mythos (not to mention save on the budget), Hammer Studios set this seventh entry in the Dracula series in (then) modern Swinging London.  The results are mixed, but Dracula A.D. 1972 does have it’s moments. 

 

In the 19th century, Van Helsing (Peter Cushing) impales Dracula (Christopher Lee) with a wagon wheel.  A hundred years later, a bunch of stupid hippies (led by a fey vampire named Johnny Alucard) revive the Count during a black mass.  To summon Dracula, Alucard tosses a goblet full of blood onto Caroline (Maniac) Munro’s neck, which is the vampire equivalent of tying a pork chop around your neck so your dog will play with you.  Once resurrected, Dracula sets out to be an even bigger pain in the neck, but he’s predictably foiled by Van Helsing’s grandson (also Cushing) who gives him a good old fashioned stake through the heart.   

While it’s good to have Cushing back in the Van Helsing role after a four film absence, sadly he’s thoroughly wasted and only appears in a few scenes.  Speaking of excellent actors with little to no screen time, Lee also does little more than stand around for his limited role and quickly becomes a supporting character in his own movie by letting all the fucking hippies take center stage.  

 

While the filmmakers may have thought that setting the film in present day might have had it’s advantages, what they didn’t figure is that it would also hopelessly date the flick to no end.  So that means if you like your vampire movies filled to the brim with hippies, free love, go-go dancing, and the horrid music of “Stoneground”, then Dracula A.D. 1972 will knock your socks off.  Me, I personally hate hippies so the first half of the movie was pretty irritating, but once Dracula showed up and started chowing down of the flower children, things perked up a little bit.  The Wa-Wa guitar music is a plus, as is some decent blood and gore, but for the most part, this is just a mediocre entry in the series.  The next installment of the franchise, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, was also set in the present day, but upped the sex and gore quotient considerably.

 

Johnny Alucard gets the best line of the movie while conducting the black mass:  “By the 6,000 terrors of Hell, I baptize thee!” 

 

AKA:  Dracula Today.