Dum da dum da! Dum da duh...
Here it comes, everybody! Summer Movie Season!!! All you fanboys sit up and cheer with me. Among the inevitable sequels (X-Files 2, Batman Begins 2), Superhero start-ups (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk), and crass comedies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Baby Mama) we get the rebirth of a legend: Indy Four.
For fanboys raised in the early to mid eighties, this is about as good (or as bad) as it gets. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls" has the potential to stand up and be counted a worthy addition as the fourth installment of one of the most beloved movie franchises ever. Or, we could be looking at the greatest crash since the dot com bubble burst; Crystal Skulls could very well be ostracized and ridiculed as George Lucas' and Steven Spielberg's ugly, late-life/ego/money crisis love child.
I'm holding out hope that it will be the former, but not holding my breath against the latter.
Most of my worry comes from both George and Steven's recent track records. Let's take a look.
Perhaps the greatest adventure storyteller of the 70s and 80s, George brought us Star Wars and made movies the grand, fantastic spectacle we have since come to adore. George brought us Indiana Jones (he wrote and produced the first three) and reminded us what it's like to be a kid, fight the bad guys, and win the girl. George brought us Labyrinth, and showed us too much of David Bowie...alright that one wasn't his best achievement. He brought us Willow and Mad Mordigan. And we loved him. And we praised him. And we dreamt of future adventures, and perhaps the first three Star Wars movies, hinted at, teased, danced around, and then finally, in the late nineties, we heard word...
We got we wanted. The first Star Wars movies. The prequels. The rise and fall of the Jedi Council. The beginning of the end of the beginning: the creation of the dastardly Darth Vader out of the prodigious Anakin Skywalker. We were stoked. I remember sitting in line for nearly a day just to get tickets. In the EIGHTH GRADE. I don't even remember how I got out there. Surely it was mine or one of my friend's mothers. But that was the level of dedication we had. People couldn't sleep or eat for weeks. This was the culmination of our childhood fantasies--this was as epic a revelation as the Force was to Luke Skywalker. We loved George Lucas, and we praised him.
And in return, George Lucas promptly stood up, raised his arms high in the air, and thumbed his nose at us. "Neener, Neener, Ewok Speeder!" he seemed to say. Instead of creating memorable characters, good dialogue, and incredible plotting, Lucas filled his stories with overblown cartoons, anti-climactic/anti-sympathetic battles (Oh No! Another droid just died...! Can't...reconstruct...that...), and Jar Jar freaking Binks. At first we cheered, then we blinked, then we wondered, and finally we chocked it up to "Oh, he had to lay down so much ground work, so much story, that he didn't have time to develop characters, story, or dialogue."
We were wrong.
George continued his blasphemous sacrilege with Star Wars Episode Two: The Animated One. At first we thought, great, the action can be ramped up! Whiney, snively little Anakin Skywalker gets a light saber, some use of the force, and proceeds to... somehow woo a girl ten years older than him. And she falls head over heels for his...whiney snivelous ways. Somewhere, somehow, six feet down, Sir Alec Guiness was rolling in his grave. And we groaned. Literally. The first movie I saw after two years as a missionary in Brazil was this load of cartoon drech.
And it got worse from there. And we booed him. And he hissed back. And we never forgave him for spoiling something we loved so much. And he flipped us off and road off into the sunset with the gazillion dollars we gave him to upset us for two hours in a darkened theater.
And now this. Now we get Indy four. And what is George Lucas' reaction to the movie? Perhaps the scariest quote I have ever read (not to mention alienating, frustrating, patronizing, and offensive) via Entertainment Weekly:
LUCAS: "We’re only going to get aggravation. The fans think it’s gonna be the Second Coming. And it’s not the Second Coming. They’ve already written the story in their heads, and lemme tell ya, its not that story. So they’re going to be very disappointed. I went through this with Phantom Menace. Believe me, I’ve been there, I’ve done it. I know exactly the way they react. And they’re very vocal about these things. We’re not gonna have adoring fans sending us e-mails saying how much they loved the movie. We’re gonna have a bunch of angry people saying, “You’re a bunch of assholes and you should never have done this. You’ve ruined my life forever. I loved Indiana Jones so much an d now its ruined.” And all that kind of stuff."
And Steven Spielberg’s hilarious response?
SPIELBERG: "Uh, he needs to speak for himself here. You need to put in parentheses “George Lucas is totally speaking for himself.” And I absolve myself of any connection with that last statement about fans not liking it."
Well, good for Spielberg. However, his recent track record isn't all that hot either. Some of the better B-listers include:
Jurassic Park III.
Men in Black II.
And some of his upcoming projects:
Transformers II and Jurassic Park IV!!! YAAAAAY! Can't wait to sit in line for those.
And now I've written too much. I just hope this turns out to be a Summer Movie Season to remember. And not another foray into the mediocrity of silly sequels and subpar superheroes. Again, I'm not holding my breath.
I swear, I won't hold my breath.
But I'll probably eat my movie ticket later. Curse you George Stevenberg! Curse you!