Thursday night I went with friends to see Indy IV: The Case of The Crystal Skulls at the lovely Ziegfeld Theater. Seeing an "event movie" with this particular group of friends is really the way an "event movie" is meant to be seen. That way, if the movie itself sort of disappoints the experience of seeing it with awesome people helps prop it up. And if the movie is great, than the company only makes it that much more memorable. And if the movie sucks, you've got a talented ensemble of hecklers ready to throw expletives at the screen. Plus that night I got to sit next to a friend that I've socially known for a while but never really had a big convo with, and we really had time to talk in line before the show and then shared a tub of popcorn during the flick and that was awesome.
So how was the movie? Well... I liked it! I thought it was a lot of fun. It wasn't much MORE than a lot of fun, so i could understand if die-hard Indy fans were less than fulfilled. The thing I find most distracting about Indy IV, is the script. Or rather, the history of developing the script. The story behind the scenes was that it took a long time - and many many drafts from different screenwriters - for Lucas and Spielberg and Ford to all agree on going forward with the movie. And the script they went with? It don't make no sense! Why did they all agree on THIS? That's my main question. It didn't stop me from ultimately enjoying the movie, but some of the lines are just clunkers and there are even more plot points that are introduced but don't go anywhere.
For Instance: (SPOILERS!)
Using Area 51 was weird for me. I don't really understand plot-wise why they start here. I mean I get it because of the aliens, er, inter-dimensional gods, and what have you, but... meh. When I saw pics of this set piece in magazines and on TV, i assumed this was where they wound up. But starting here was strange. It was nice to see the ark, but after all the shooting and chasing, I can't remember what the Russians actually succeeded in getting here. There was an alien body, but i don't think it was an actual crystal skull, because that was in South America, right? So what was the point of that whole first act? I just can't remember. And since I only saw the movie two days ago, that's a sign of some convoluted storytelling.
There's also Cate Blanchett's character who apparently has mind control abilities and she unsuccessfully tries to use them on Indy once and then never really uses them again. I get that it's a reference to something the ruskies were actually working on at the time, psionic soldiers, but it didn't amount to anything. It would've been more interesting and less goofy had they actually went somewhere with this. Cate Blanchett's got amazing range! Look at all the things she got Oscar noms for! Give her something to do!
There's also one hideous line from Indy about knowledge being treasure toward the end of the film that would be totally ridiculous in any situation, but given what the surviving characters just witnessed it's all the more absurd.
But the movie mostly still manages to be delightful and exciting throughout. I loved Ford and Karen Allen back together. Shia was dependable and committed as Indy's kid. I liked the fights and the chases. I liked the music. I do think the script could've been tighter with not a lot of additional effort. I mean, seriously, if the Big 3 can agree to shoot a script this silly, I'm sure they could've shot any number of acceptable scripts. I feel confident they will actually make another one, and I hope it's as fun as this one was, but a little less convoluted.
(The downside of seeing a movie late at night is that when you get out, the trains back to Astoria tend not to be running anymore. At least I have really bad luck with it. Thus what would normally be a 20 minute train ride home took almost 2 hours with several rerouting nightmares to be had. Next time I will remember just to take a taxi. Especially if i have work the next day,)