Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pop Perceptions: In Defense of Indy

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is hitting theaters this Thursday and the Internet is going crazy with all sorts of mixed buzz. Whether I'm on a messageboard or the Yahoo homepage, I find myself surrounded by people debating whether or not it will "suck," along with posts mentioning which critics think it's fantastic and which ones think it's absolute trash.

We're only two days away from the movie's release, but I still feel the need to say a little something about this.

I have to admit that I've been honestly baffled by many people's premature needs to bash the film. Okay, so the critics who have been releasing their reviews have a right to their opinions. They've seen the film and are now in a place where they can make their judgments. But what about the rest of the population?

For months and months, I've been hearing people go on about how Harrison Ford's too old, how this movie will be horrible thanks to the fact that George Lucas mucked up his own Star Wars movies, and how they absolutely refuse to watch such sacrilege.

Fine, I can understand why people would worry about the potential ruin of a well-loved fictional character. But I think there's a point where people are often a bit too entitled to their opinions. I too was a little concerned when I heard about Indy 4. I'm a fan of the original trilogy and while I was excited to that I would get to see Indy on the big screen, since I was too young to see the first three movies in theaters, I was definitely worried that the overall tone of the original films would be lost. At the same time, I was worried that they would try too hard to recapture Indy's "glory days." These are valid concerns that I shared and might still share with Indy's current batch of haters.

But in the case of Indy 4, I feel that there is a select group of people that is just intent on badmouthing the film without any concrete evidence of why it's bad. Yes, Harrison Ford is much older now, but the film is also set about two decades after the first three movies. Previews indicate that Indy will make at least a couple of remarks regarding his age. Yes, George Lucas is still associated with the franchise, but he's not the director, and there might even be a chance that the guy has learned something from the backlash against the Star Wars prequels. I'm not saying this is certain, but you never know.

And while some things have changed in Indy's realm, others have not.

In fact, articles and previews don't really indicate that this film's tone is terribly different from the one found in the original three. Indy still wears the classic fedora. It looks like they've really tried not to overdo it with the CGI and the filming style seems to be classic Spielberg. There might be a few corny jokes, but even the first three movies had their corny moments.

Look, the point is, these movies have never been great intellectual masterpieces. They're just great adventure movies, with a really likable main character. Some of the characters in the original trilogy — i.e. Willie in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — are downright shrill and mostly irritating, indicating that even some of the well-loved movies of the past have their flaws.

Was it necessary for Spielberg and co. to make this fourth installment for the franchise? Maybe not. But relying on your preconceptions and bandying about critics' reviews does not offer any evidence that this is, in fact, a bad film. Nor is it a good way to assert your opinion. Watch it, and then judge. And if popcorn movies of this variety just aren't your thing, don't bother seeing it. But don't go around pushing your views on others and looking down on them just because they're the least bit willing to give the movie a chance.

As for me, I'm excited for this film. I know there's a chance that it might not meet whatever expectations I might have for it, but I want to watch something fun to kick off the summer. And if it's great, that's fantastic. If it's terrible, I might be a little disappointed, but at least I won't be letting any predetermined vitriol take over my life.

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