Friday, July 13, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Indy IV

13 July 2007

Today is Harrison Ford's birthday, a day I celebrate each and every year with cake and the occasional present (I do the same thing for Patrick Stewart's birthday, but to a lesser extent).

This started out as a short post and became a long, sprawling rant, spiraling down into incoherent babbling. I'm nowhere near finished with it, and could probably meander away at this essay for the rest of my life. But on this honourable day, I will call it quits.

The time has come to talk about INDIANA JONES IV.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is my favourite movie. It came out at the perfect time for me, when I was just old enough to appreciate what I was seeing (though, if it had come out when I was a young teenager, it might have affected me even more), opening my eyes to entertainment unlike any I'd seen before. My family lived fourteen miles away from the nearest cinema, and it was rare that we'd go out and see a film, but RAIDERS had been popular enough that my parents wanted to see it, and deemed me old enough to come along.

TEMPLE OF DOOM came out three years later. Though I was still arguably not old enough to see it, I begged, cajoled, and prayed they'd take me. My parents, in a rare example of real parenting in this day and age, went to see it without me, to judge for themselves if it was appropriate or not. I still remember hearing them pull up and jumping out of bed to greet them at the door and find out what the verdict was. Happy news, my father gave the thumbs up, and my Mom took me and my friends to the same theatre I saw RAIDERS at.

In that film, there was someone to relate to. I wanted to be Short Round.

Five years passed, and when INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE came out (in 1989), my mom simply dropped me and my friend (and his brother) at that self-same cinema to see it on opening night.

Which brings us to the 1990s. Rumours began bubbling that Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg were considering INDY III NOT the "last" crusade. I was excited, since they were making a new STAR WARS Trilogy, and that couldn't go wrong, could it?

Years passed, and by the year 2000, I began to realise that INDY 4 was never going to get made. Yet every other Harrison Ford interview mentioned it ("we're working on a script," "someday soon we'll make it," "No, I'm not too old"), and people still held out, still talked and speculated. A couple of years back, I bet somebody somewhere $20.00 that INDY 4 would never happen. It was money I knew I'd never have to pay. But now . . .

INDIANA JONES IV is coming out next summer. It's shooting right now (originally this sentence was "They say it'll start shooting in a handful of months).

I still feel strange about this new Indiana Jones movie. First it was Cate Blanchett, now it's John Hurt, who they announced would be playing a part in the movie, and on "Saturday Night Live" the other night, young Shia Lebouf was talking about his casting in the flick. It looks like the film is actually going to get made.

And I'm not sure what to think about it. Sure, the last STAR WARS prequel was better-received than the two before it, but I thought it was just as bad, and maybe worse, since I couldn't even fool myself (as I had the first two times) that it was worth the expectations ("...better than RETURN OF THE JEDI," my taint). And INDY IV?

This could be a whole 'nother rant.

I've become a more sarcastic version of Eyore from "Winnie the Bloody Pooh" over the last few years. I've been disappointed so many times that my attitude is a big old "Why bother?" I look forward to the new "Star Trek" movie. But I doubt it will be great. So much can go wrong with something backed by a lot of hype. You're best bet is to get something fresh and out-of-nowhere, with little expectation behind it. Then you can be happily surprised.

Unfortunately, very little nowadays is fresh and out-of-nowhere. The studios are less and less willing to take a chance on a new STAR WARS or MATRIX or TITANIC, but will eagerly pump millions into a STAR WARS 7 or MATRIX 5 or TITANIC 2. Everything's sequels or remakes or adaptations of books or video games or comics or rides or celebrity tattoos. And that makes things difficult.

Also, no Sean Connery. The great icon of the silver screen, who immortalised the words, "Bond, James Bond," "Just like a wop to bring a knife to a gunfight," "I should've mailed it to the Marx Brothers," and "I don't believe it's wrong to strike a woman," went on record that he's staying retired, despite invitation to appear in INDY IV.

What would be neat is if he really did appear in it, maybe shooting his scenes first, so that when he shows up on screen, the audience really shits a brick.

But alas.

I don't know how a new Indy film could not disappoint. Film tastes have changed, the target teen demographic wasn't even born when Indy was popular and they're not going to put up with non-wirework stunts and non-computer generated setpieces. Are they?

I don't know, maybe they'll surprise me (the teen audiences, I mean), and somehow my hope for film and mankind will be redeemed a year from now. I do look at the last James Bond film, CASINO ROYALE, and how awesome it was. An enormous step back from the silly, stupid, heartless, artificial antics of DIE ANOTHER DAY, we had an action film where the dialogue, feeling, pace, and human interaction was just as important as explosions and car chases.

And CASINO ROYALE had some amazing, Indy Jones-level stuntwork with real people, not just pixels, participating. So there's that.

And recently, pictures started showing up online, like the one to the left. I honestly used to wish that my dad would turn into Indiana Jones, but now look: the opposite has become true.

And another pic with Harrison Ford and Shia LeBouf surfaced, almost amusing in its absurdity. But somehow, it just might work, in the nostalgic, silly way LAST CRUSADE worked (stuff like the stamping librarian, the plane in the tunnel, and the seagulls).

There's no denying that the movie is filming, and that it's gonna happen no matter how much I scream. So I might as well accept it. Grudgingly.

But that brings us up to the present. Not long ago, I saw the first clip (just of behind-the-scenes footage) and suddenly, I felt excited about the movie. I don't know what it was--it's not that I saw Indy cracking his whip or a great stunt or even heard the awesome John Williams theme . . . I just felt excited that we were getting to see Indy one last time.

So, my anticipation of the film has gone from a zero a few months ago to a three today. I hope they don't disappoint me.

Rish "It's Not The Years, It's The Mileage" Outfield