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14 de mayo de 2008

On miércoles, mayo 14, 2008 by GeNeRaCiOn AsErE in    3 comments
(Review by Danny del Mazo )

Back in what I like to call the “good days” of cinema, films were of another quality. Every conceivable facet of a film’s production, from the visuals to the post-production magic of skillful editing and musical composition, was given high, artistic maintenance and the creative talents behind-the-scenes strove for what I term “quintessentiality”: the struggle to make every frame of a movie seem inevitable and legendary.

The one element that allows any one film to transcend the harshness of time is the enormous craft with which the film was realized, in so far as, the film seems as much of a classic the day of its release as it does many years later when one looks back with fondness at that all-too familiar movie and regards it as a truly, unique masterwork. Unfortunately, we live in an era of cynical, formulaic attempts at movie-making that makes me wonder if the future looks bright or bleak for the film industry. With every disappointing film, I yearn for another “classic” to emerge. A film that can reassure me there are still talented artists striving to make big, commercial films that have any semblance of quality.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was among my hopefuls for this year. The film had everything going for it: Hollywood Heavyweights like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Harrison Ford and a classic, heroic character that has already stood the test of time. The result was probably the biggest disappointment I could’ve imagined. Now I know that many other critics will disagree with me. They’ll go into this big debacle about how these brainless, summer movies are not to be expected much of. That we should just enjoy the ride and not dwell on their artistic numbness. Because it’s INDIANA JONES, one can say that the film is automatically critic-proof, but it is precisely because it’s Indiana Jones that I am criticizing the film so harshly and I believe I am within reason to do so. Frankly, I expected better from such quality filmmakers as the aforementioned and a film legacy consisting of three “classic films” that span almost three decades.
In a nut-shell, the film is a culmination of some great ideas materialized in the worst possible ways and a tantalizing concept, i.e. space aliens influencing ancient civilizations, that never really hits home. However, the most woeful aspect of this particular movie is the antithesis of what the most positive aspect of the previous three films was: the characters. The characters are dreadfully written and lack the substance and nuance that made the earlier films unique. Even in high-adventure films, the characters that have a certain magic can draw an audience into a story organically and without pretension. In the case of the fourth Indiana Jones film, every character is a cardboard cut-out. Sitting in the theatre, I felt as if the actors were almost winking at the audience, urging us to pay attention to their doings, laugh on cue, and act as if we are surprised by every cliché in the book. This is the stark opposition to the feeling that the audience has when they are literally on the edge of the seat and struggling to stay ahead of the story. The film has no dramatic engagement and the action scenes feel forced and dutiful rather than exhilarating. Going into the movie, I did not expect to be checking-out emotionally only midway through the film. But rather, I expected to be wisted away by the imagination and craftiness of an Indiana Jones adventure. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I still believe that a cinematic legend like Indiana Jones deserved far better efforts. Even the music, by the masterful composer John Williams, was far from memorable. The one saving grace is Ford’s performance which is true to form, but nonetheless failing to explore or bring something new to the plate.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

To me, the majority of films released every year seem to be just slapped together for the market place. With a few exceptions, contemporary Hollywood films are more product than good storytelling and I can’t help but wonder if the great, Lost Art of good storytelling will ever find its way back into mainstream cinema. Many will argue that Independent Cinema answers the prayers of those art-buffs searching for films that are genuinely about something. But I say, why can’t bigger-budget films, those that have broader appeal and a greater capacity for opening the imagination not have the strength of engaging characters and plots within its arsenal. I don’t know if it’s the fact that many successful artists are not being paid as much as they were years ago, or what other impediment has warranted their sluggish attempts at making good films. It seems as if there is no longer any care taken toward telling original stories and translating them skillfully on the big screen. Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull suffers from its own contrived essence. The film feels more like a nostalgic trip for an 80s pop-culture icon and proceeds to hit its every mark thereto, rather than concerning itself with telling an original story that is self-contained and breathes a life of its own.
I have to admit, there were moments watching the movie where I did feel like a kid again. Hearing that famous music and seeing Harrison Ford in his iconic attire were joyful pleasures and I do believe that people will embrace the film because at the end of it all: it’s INDIANA JONES. And I believe it’s that one detail that hindsights critics into liking the film and ignoring it’s many flaws. But in my opinion, and it’s just my opinion, as any substandard, run-of-the-mill action flick, the movie delivers. However, as Indiana Jones, it fails miserably.

D.D. Los Angeles, CA.
Reactions:

3 comments:

GeNeRaCiOn AsErE dijo...

Danny entre tanto corre-corre Indiana se me ha escapado y no he podido irla a ver. Luego de tus argumentos, creo que la rentarE. ME voy a ver Get Smart, a ver si se me pega algo. ;)

tony.

GeNeRaCiOn AsErE dijo...

Danny, me acaban de contar que la película es una M. Al parecer tu crítica no estará lejos de la opinión
general.
saludos

albert

Danny del Mazo dijo...

Hey Alberto, I'm glad to hear that people agree about the movie.

Muchos Saludos,
Danny del Mazo