Friday, May 30, 2008

Indiana


There was an interesting piece of movie news on the great British gossip site Digital Spy this week where Steven Spielberg said that he always becomes a recluse during the weekend of his latest movie release. The only thing that he is interested is on the Monday when the offical weekend box-office tally is released. That story is here.
In the end, "Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the Crystal Skull" made $126 million in it's first 4 days of release in America. It would not be the best first 4 day opening record, instead it is the 6th. Speilberg like Madonna never likes to be second or third in anything, 6th must be a whole other story. This total included a full day of screenings on the previous Thursday. Here in Dublin, the film played in 8 screens in Cineworld alone and it's first screening was at 12:10am on the Thursday morning. "Sex and the City" has already used up some of those screens since Wednesday but "Indiana" should still be number one this weekend, worldwide.
It is no surprise that Spielberg is so concerned with how much money the fourth Indiana will make. "Jaws" is credited as being the first ever "Summer Blockbuster" and since then whenever Speilberg has made a big budget movie each one has to be bigger than it's predecessor. It is said that "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" will have to make €400 million alone in the USA before Speilberg makes a profit. This is very possible but already not a sure bet.
The other person who will also make the most from the profits is George Lucas. It is Lucas whom I also feel has prevented the film from being one of the potential biggest hits of all time. I say this because Lucas was the originator for the story and while he didn't write the screenplay he is said to have had the final say on the plot and story development.
I saw "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" on it's second day of release on a great big cinema screen and I loved it. It is easily one of the most entertaining films I have seen, well, since "Iron Man". There were moments when I remembered being captivated by something in a summer blockbuster back to when I was in my twenties, being a teenager and being a child. That is what Speilberg does best, he reminds us of when we were children while giving the children of today a love of cinema, great big summer blockbuster cinema that is.
My childhood was a "Star Wars" childhood. The first 3 "Star Wars" films will always be Lucas's gift to cinema but I hated the 3 films that came later. It is Lucas who brought the "sci fi" element into the newest "Indiana Jones" film and that, as far as I can see, is the one factor that fans, old and new, have disliked. You can almost imagine Lucas convincing Speilberg that the storyline was brilliant. Prior to the release the main concern was would Harrison Ford still be convincing but by setting the story years after "The Last Crusade" it is stated straight away that Indiana, the character, is also older.
After the "bomb in the desert" scene early in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" I realised that the film was going to be a summer movie where anything is possible. Speilberg knew that 2008 was going to be the summer of "Batman" and "The Incredible Hulk" so he had obviously decided to make Indiana into more a superhero that just a hero. For the past few years movie goers have had mainly CGI images where the acting talents or abilities of a stunt man aren't as important as they once were. I don't think Speilberg ever thought that it would be "Iron Man" that was going to be "Indiana"'s greatest nemesis at 2008's box office. "Iron Man" is currently the 38th most successful box office hit of all time in America which has now made $261 million. It is well ahead of Spielberg's last big budget blockbuster "War of the Worlds" which is the 50th most popular with a total box office gross of $242 million. At the time both critics and audiences loved the majority of "The War of the Worlds" enjoying the build up to the impending carnage and destruction and then the amazing special effects and then were let down by the ending and the fact that Cruise leads literally all his "loved ones" to safety at the end. There are also many ridiculous moments in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", the Waterfalls sequence wouldn't have looked out of place in a "Scary Movie / Naked Gun" type spoof movie.
Now that the film is in cinemas there is little that hasn't been kept a secret in the reviews about the plot of which Speilberg and Lucas were so serious about not being let known in advance. The worst thing I think that Lucas did, while in Cannes, was saying that there "may" be an "Indiana 5" where Mutt, played by Shia LaBeouf would take a more central role. Why would a "side kick" character ever take over from the series hero? By saying that there was no surprises in one of the film's revelations. LaBeouf is good in the film but he's not brilliant. I had to laugh when Mutt made his entrance on his motorbike a la Marlon Brando in "The Wild One", the only thing to say on that is that he is no Brando. The ending of the film leaves a potential fifth film a very real possibility but is one that Speilberg should not rush in to. The "Jurassic Park" sequels, especially the third are proof that maybe the first is best and best left at that. There is rumoured to be a fourth "Jurassic Park" film in production so God knows what that will be like.
One review called Cate Blanchett portrayal of Irina Spalko, the "best Bond villain that was never in a Bond movie". She is without doubt a highlight but there are also lots of good reasons to see the film. The clips below of the film and it's also features on location production footage. Go and see it but don't expect it to be the best film ever and you will really enjoy it.
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