Sunday, May 25, 2008

More cultural decadence

I saw some remarks about the new Indiana Jones film that made my weekend (hyperlinks in original removed):
Sure, I said Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a fun afternoon diversion, but that doesn't mean it wasn't total crap. I love Indy, and I loved the "alien skull" premise of this film, and yet the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. The ending felt like bad TV. And no, it's not cool or neato that Indy was able to survive a nuclear bomb blast by hiding inside a refrigerator. I can believe that he might escape a giant zooming rock by the skin of his teeth, but a nuclear bomb? That stretches the bounds of credibility so far that I'm not having fun anymore. I'm just feeling condescended to. Plus, as many io9 commenters already noted, the CGI ants were crap. Swarm of ants = good. Swarm of ants so fake they look like a batch of angry M&Ms (and not the good kind you can drink with the Carl Brandon Society) = crap.
Spielberg and Lucas obviously have Indiana Jones conflated with MacGyver after abandoning the film series for 19 years.

Actually, it seems like Lucas might be responsible for this because it fits his M.O.: "borrowing" key plot elements from other successful science-fiction franchises. For example:
  • The original "Star Wars" trilogy borrowed rather extensively from the novel "Dune". A good list of the borrowings is presented here.

  • The planet Coruscant in the "Star Wars" prequels consists of one planet-wide city, akin to planet Trantor in the "Foundation" novels.

  • The starship crash landing on Coruscant in the beginning of "Revenge of the Sith" looks a lot like a similar crash landing in the film "Pitch Black".

  • That aliens had contact with the ancient peoples of Earth is a key premise of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". It is also a key premise of the most popular television show in the history of the science-fiction genre: "Stargate SG-1".

Putting ancient aliens into the latest Indiana Jones film also fits another recent Lucas M.O.: s**tcanning the religious overtones of his original breakthrough blockbusters. Merely stating the word "midichlorians" should suffice to prove this point.


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