May 9, 2017
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a recap (part 5 of 8)
Previously: Dr. Spalko forced Indy to look at an alien skull, and this freaked him out a little bit. She threatened Jones, which he laughed at. So she threatened Mutt, which Mutt laughed at. So she brought out Marion Ravenwood. And I just realized they’ve been saying “Akator” and not “Akakor”, rendering this movie one full degree stupider than I thought.
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Indy is downright happy to be reunited with Marion. She smiles broadly and rushes to hug… Mutt. Because she’s Mutt’s mother. Indy is shocked. It’s at this point where Steven “13th Amendment” Spielberg appears to go get a coffee, because there’s no way that even on his worst day he could direct this sitcom nonsense.
Marion: [I have] a damn good, really good life!
Indy: Well, so have I!
Marion: Yeah? You still leaving a trail of human wreckage, or have you retired?
Indy: Why? You looking for a date?
Marion: With anybody but you!
Spalko, having had exactly as much of this as I have, just points a gun at Marion and asks Dr. Jones if he’s ready to help her now. The answer appears to be yes, because the very next thing is Oxley telling Indy about Akator. Well, he’s not, really. He’s quoting lines from Milton.
Jones notices that Oxley is moving his hand as he talks, and demands a piece of paper and a pen. Oxley begins drawing. Spalko is amazed, saying, “Idiograms. I should have seen this.” And the fact that she didn’t means that Indiana is now helping her more than he had to.
While everybody goes off to examine the pictures, Mutt takes a moment to try to reach Oxley. He tears up as he looks for any recognition in his face. And Shia LaBeouf is acting his nutty, nutty heart out. It doesn’t work, but I appreciate the effort.
The moment passes and we go back to Harrison Ford refusing to act under any circumstance. He says the drawings mean that “the water sleeps until the great snake.” Those appear to be directions. Looking at a map, Indy and Spalko decide that they’re looking near Sono, Brazil. They’re very distracted by the map, which allows Mutt the chance to…
.. punch a guy and then flip over a table. It’s a jailbreak, and one that appears to annoy Indiana. In any case, the card table causes chaos among the Russian troops and allows Mutt, Marion, Indiana, and Oxley to escape into the forest. They’re just four people with no supplies running into the Amazon at night. It’s not a very good plan.
The four run through what I would hesitate to call a jungle. It’s obviously a set, and a really bad one at that. It looks like they filmed on location at a Rainforest Cafe. They watch the Russian soldiers run by, and as they stop for a moment, Indy and Marion begin sinking. Everyone but Indy is freaked out that they’re in quicksand. Jones corrects them to say it’s actually a dry sand pit, and nobody should panic, because they’re not dangerous unless air pockets give way… which they do the moment he says it. The two sink deeper.
Dry quicksand may or may not be a thing. Its existence has never been confirmed in nature, but scientists were able to create it in 2004. Incidentally, I’ve chosen not to be mad at the movie for this lazy contrivance. It’s something that you would definitely see in one of those serial adventures which Indiana Jones is supposed to recall. Besides, there’ll be so much more to be mad at in just a second.
Mutt runs off to find something to pull them out, while Indy yells at Oxley to go get help. After a moment, a PA calls to John Hurt and he wanders off screen. As they’re sinking, Indy tells Marion that Mutt is a good kid, and that she should get off his back about school. She confesses that Mutt’s real name is “Henry” and…
God damn it, movie! Even though Indy didn’t know Mutt’s name was Henry, Mutt did! It gets stupider: Marion named him Henry Jones III. Meaning, Mutt shares the same name as the archaeologist his mother says is the only person who can help her. How did Mutt not piece this together? There are episodes of Blue’s Clues that contain deeper mysteries.
Indy responds to this by yelling, “Why the hell didn’t you make him finish school?” This line gets a lot better if you imagine David Schwimmer screaming it on an episode of Friends.
Mutt runs back in and pulls his mother out of the Sarlacc pit with something. He then throws one end of it to Indy, and it’s a…
God damn it, movie! It’s a snake. He throws Indy a snake. Jones is scared out of his mind and refuses to grab it, begging for a rope. Dude, if Mutt had found a rope, he wouldn’t be tossing serpents. Just before he goes under, Indy forces himself to grab the snake. Mutt pulls him to safety.
And let me just take a moment to mourn Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember how cool it was that Indy hated snakes, as this one throwaway line? And then God sent snakes specifically because Indiana feared them? Kingdom of the Crystal Skull pops some memberberries, takes everything good about 1981, and ruins it.
Mac comes jogging into the frame, followed by Oxley and the entire battalion of terrible Russian soldiers. Indy, continuing to be annoyed, sneers, “Good work, Ox. Thanks.” He’s mad that Ox brought help. After he told Ox to bring help. Who did he think Oxley was going to get, Flo from Progressive?
A wide shot of the Amazon. Day. A huge path through the jungle is being cleared in clouds of dust and debris. A Russian is driving a tremendous, jungle-cutting bulldozer thing. It’s got a cow catcher and spinning blades and these thresher rollers, and it’s easily doing 25 mph. It’s followed by a convoy of Soviet trucks.
By the way, this vehicle isn’t that far from reality. In the 1960s, manufacturer R.G. LeTourneau built a tree crusher for the US Army to use in Vietnam. The crusher was just about the size of a DC-3 and moved at maybe 4 mph with a tailwind. The Army eventually abandoned the project because the machine, and I’m paraphrasing here, was “really, really easy to shoot.” Still, you have to see this goddamned thing.
Indy, Mutt, and Marion are in the back of a truck with the main Russian soldier. Mutt is horrified, and insists that his father was a British RAF pilot. Marion tells him that “Colin” was only his stepfather. They started dating when Mutt was three months old. First of all, mad props to Colin. Second of all, Mutt’s name is Henry. Jones. III.
Steven “I Thought Julia Roberts Would Be a Good Tinkerbell” Spielberg switches back to romcom mode as Marion and Indy start arguing again about who left whom at the altar and the fact that he lost every argument and oh, for the love of God, shut the hell up.
The big Russian guy from the beginning, reading my mind, says, “Oh, for the love of God, shut the hell up.”
Indy and Marion ignore… um, Dovchenko… and continue reading from a radio script for The Bickersons. Eventually, Mutt gets involved and the argument shifts to Indy grousing that Mutt is going to finish school. Igor, now completely fed up, takes a rag and attempts to muffle Marion. This stops them in no way whatsoever.
Marion yells through her gag that she thought they were going to die. Indy dramatically answers, “Not yet,” and kicks the scary guy from those two episodes of Alias with both feet, setting off the next action sequence.
Dovchenko is himself suffering from a bad case of the Worf Effect, and Mutt and Indy take turns kicking him until he falls unconscious. Thus he fulfills his plot-obligated role of looking big and getting his ass handed to him.
Mutt shakes his switchblade loose from… I’m not sure exactly where he was hiding it. Did they not search him? Indy cuts himself free, then frees Mutt, and then Marion. She takes the opportunity to continue arguing with Indy. Now she’s accusing him of sleeping with other women over the years. Well, there was that one Nazi lady. Did he sleep with her? Damn it, now I have to look that up.
Indy admits that there were a few women, but they all had the same problem. Marion asks what that was, setting Indy up to answer, “They weren’t you.” Aww. Steven “Always” Spielberg got me. I’ll admit it, he got me.
Indy crawls out onto the hood of the moving truck, leaving Marion smiling like a schoolgirl. A few bumps later and he’s thrown the driver out and taken the wheel. He opens the little hatch thing and Marion crawls through into the passenger seat, still grinning. He’s all business, though. They have to get Oxley back, get the skull, and get to Akator before Spalko.
Dude, if you get the skull, you don’t need to go to Akator. There’s nothing the Russians can do there without it. Just get the skull and leave. Go with Marion. She deserves it. Guys are always ditching Karen Allen to go do something more interesting. That’s, like, half her résumé.
Indy gives Marion the wheel and climbs into the back of the truck, and comes back with a damn RPG. I have no idea why the Russians thought they would need that. He then fires it more or less blindly.
The rocket hits the tree crusher, causing its two cutting blades to rip loose and go careening through the entire convoy like those chainsaw balls from Battleship. One of them nearly cuts Indy’s own truck in half. This wakes up John Williams, and he directs the orchestra to play the Indiana Jones fanfare.
In a confusing edit, Spalko and everyone are just standing there watching Indy barrel towards them. She throws the skull to some guys in a jeep that also has Oxley in it. She then jumps on the next truck and they all speed off. The tree crusher isn’t in the way, and somehow there’s now a clear path through the jungle for them to drive on.
Damn it, movie! None of the jeeps they’re using got damaged by the blade, and they don’t need the road cleared. So what was the point of the tree crusher? Was it because George Lucas thought it looked cool? …I’ll bet it was because George Lucas thought it looked cool.
Spalko is screaming at her driver to go. Indy pulls up alongside the truck following hers. Well, it’s not a truck, exactly. It’s an amphibious jeep. I was preparing to get mad, but it looks like the Army actually built some of these in WWII. They abandoned the project because it was stupid, but it was at least real.
Next time: Monkeys. Terrible, horrible CGI monkeys. Also, I’ll probably reference some more 70-year-old radio programs. ‘Member The Shadow?