Saturday, May 24, 2008

No Jar-Jar Phenomenon

Indiana Jones
Originally uploaded by Poofy
There are a few ways of revisiting an old hit. The first I would call the Jar-Jar approach referring to the three Star Wars films released during the last ten years. I don't think I am the only one who cringed from humiliation watching Jar-Jar Binks making his jokes as the "funny" Star Wars sidekick. After seeing the first new Star Wars film, I really did not feel like spending money on the other two films. It just did not feel the same. Same goes for the latest Superman production which was like warming Christopher Reeve's acting in a microwave and selling it as the original.

And then there is the Bond/Batman/Indiana Jones approach where the characters and the story have been modernised but still keeping the core charm of the series. Daniel Craig's Bond had already some features of metrosexuality and moved away from the alfamale strategy of Pierce Brosnan. The women were even allowed to think. The new Batman films have gone back to the darkness of the comics and moved clearly away from Tim Burton's annoying pop culture Batmans. And then there is the new Indiana Jones.

Before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premiered, I think broadcasters in most countries showed the old three films. Also I watched them only to find myself experiencing slightly the Benny Hill/Moonlighting feeling where an old classic actually feels ûberchauvinistic and not that funny. Therefore I admit having some hesitations before seeing the new Jones yesterday.

But Spielberg and Lucas are not in it just to rip us off. The new Indiana Jones is innovative, funny and so over the top that at some point you tell yourself that this is not supposed to resemble truth and you just let yourself enjoy the action. Simultaneously as the female characters are given more personality (not merely hysterical and screaming), the new Indy plays exactly on the same kind of innocent action than the good old ones. Visually Indiana Jones still looks amazing. Also, like it is supposed to be in fairytales, the goods and good and the bads are bad. The film lacks all complexity and relativism of today, which I feel is one of the core reasons why it works. It has the same old flaws of Lucas-Spielberg productions - the acting is secondary to the action and the visuals - but hey, you don't go and see Indiana Jones for the compelling dialogue.

This is what they call entertainment.

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