Sunday, May 18, 2008

Raiders 4

Leon casino,

Mutt Jones and the Kingdom of the Atomic Groundhogs. That could be the title of the next Indiana Jones or better Raiders series, after all isn't it all about the franchise and team play? You won't be disappointed seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but it certainly isn't the home run over the fence movie that everyone has been waiting for in 2008. That said, the opening shot takes in the logo of Paramount Pictures - based on the 9,712-foot-high Ben Lomond Peak in the Wasatch Range near Ogden, Utah - that then morphs into a rodent mound. In the first few minutes I thought of Caddyshack so many times because Speilberg keeps cutting to groundhogs for a reaction shot. The fourth movie in the Indiana Jones/Raiders series starts at an atomic bomb test site in Nevada in 1957 before it proceeds to Peru for an alien finale that achieves an encounter of a close kind symbiosis between 80s nostalgia, crystal skull imagery and 21st century audience expectation.
As the character played by John Hurt, the Ox (Professor Oxley) says "It's not outer space," referring to the film's aliens, "It's the space between the space."
String theory and multi-dimension hi jinx combine to form a perfect Saturday afternoon diversion. The CGI effects are wedged into the exotic locations in a manner as to not be noticed. For instance, on a moonlit night we see the Nazca plains in the background and everything seems in place. The attitude here seems to be tongue in cheek and we have repeated visual motifs from other films. When Shia LaBeouf appears it's through a cloud of smoke like Brando in The Wild One. Groundhog Day and the previous Raiders flicks (look for the golden ark in the opening sequence) are but a few of the reference geoglyphs littered throughout. A diner scene evokes both Back to the Future's diner and Edward Hopper. Frankly, I want Speilberg to get back to Munich and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence territory.


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