Tuesday, May 31, 2005

INDY 4 BABY

Well, after a nice long weekend for those of us on this side of the world, we start off this abbreviated week right, with a recent installment of adventures from the dynamic duo.

It’s more Lucas and Spielberg news!!

Yesterday, VARIETY, posted an article announcing that it looks like two out of the holy trinity have approved Jeff Nathanson’s draft for the elusive Indiana Jones 4.

After George Lucas negged a draft from both Frank Darabont and M. Night Shymalan, he has apparently finally found what he was looking for, in the work of a man who wrote Rush Hour 2.

No offense to screenwriter Jeff Nathanson, (well not outright at least), but the man has yet to prove himself in the classy adventure genre. His other recent credits are The Terminal and Catch me if You Can, which explains how got linked up with Spielberg in the first place.

I would say Catch me if you Can was pretty solid, but The Terminal boardered on bland, for me the two best part of these films were that they were Spielberg movies, not that they necessarily had great scripts. Not to mention the fact that both were based on non-fiction books depicting “the true story” of two different men. Maybe this is me romanticizing things, but I feel that Indy’s adventures require a little more panache, style, and imagination than were exhibited in either CMIYC or The Terminal.

Indy 4 has been in the pipes for years, and I have to be honest, I won’t believe it’s actually being made until I see the first teaser trailer. I think the frachise was laid to rest in an appropriate way, and as much as I think those movies were great, I think there was a slight decline as they went along, and they stopped right before the bar slipped any lower.

I know I am about to speak sacrilege to many, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s got to do. RAIDERS is by far the best film, I don’t think anyone can argue that. But if you ask me TEMPLE OF DOOM is the unsung hero of that trilogy. THE LAST CRUSADE has its great moments, especially with Sean Connery, (I mean you don’t get much better casting than that) but in my opinion it is the weakest of the three. The Holy Grail is a great relic to use, but something about it just feels like they are trying to recapture a bit of the glory of RAIDERS. Once again Nazi villains are trying to claim a religious artifact that will give them the ultimate power to conquer the world. That Kalimah dude and the Shankara stones get a bum wrap, but hey, at least they were something different. There was also something about Indy in this film that seems a little too goofy, like he’s lost his edge or something. He gives in so quickly to the advances of Dr. Elsa Schneider. I mean what happened to the tough aloof guy that fell asleep why Karen Allen was trying to make out with him. This sillier side of Jones that shows through in this movie, does have its endearing moments, but also makes me yearn for more of the “no-nonsense” attitude he projected in the first two.

Also, as much as everyone always goes on and on about Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott in Doom, I actually prefer her to Alison Dody’s icy, yet flat Elsa. People say that Willie Scott was annoying - but that was the point of her character! She was supposed to be the spoiled starlet princess who learns how to eat bugs, ride elephants, and delegate knuckle sandwiches when necessary. I enjoyed watching her transformation, and I thought she had good chemistry with Ford. Sure she’s grating and melodramatic at times, but that’s part of the role. We’re supposed to feel the same things that Indy feels when he first encounters her.

To be honest I’m not really sure just what to expect from INDY 4. I was pretty excited when I heard that M. Night Shymalan was working on a draft, because I think he has a good sense of story line and characters, which are the most important things for this sort of a movie.

We’ve all heard that it’s going to be set in the 1950’s, and being the Harrison is also going to be significantly older when he reprises the role, I’ve wondered if they’re going to go more the route of a classic film noir. Just as the first movies were tributes to the pulpy adventure serials of the 30’s, this next film could be a clever throw back to a more subdued detective story, where Indy relies more on his brains than his brawn, and more on his pistol than his whip.

If you ask me here’s the conundrum with INDY 4: On the one hand you want to honor the image that has been created of Jones, as the fedora wearing, whip toting professor, who can outrun bolders and jump a canyon five meters wide. On the other hand, I think at this stage of the game, if you try to recreate this exact character, you will run the risk of the “aging rock star” syndrome. Let’s face it. Harrison Ford was forty seven when he made Last Crusade. That was sixteen years ago. He is sixty three now, and at the rate they’re going with getting this thing in gear, he may be a couple years older by the time they finally shoot this thing. I just don’t think he could pull off INDY the way he did before. I think if this film is to succeed, they are going to need to do some reconcieving of the kind of character he is, and the kind of adventures he goes on. Yet what is INDY if not the bare chested, dashing, vine-swinging hero. I don’t know. If you ask me it seems like there’s no way to win. But I guess if I had to choose a way to go I would go with the older more reserved professor, who has one last adventure, rather than the old guy who’s trying to still hold on to his youth.

As of right now, I’m not that thrilled about the direction they’re going in. It’s possible that this will be the first of Nathanson’s scripts to blow me away, but I still would have gone with either M. Night or Darabont. I suppose if Ford puts the kibash on it, we’re back to square one anyways.

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