“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – 2008. Dir. Steven Spielberg


With Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, Shia LeBeouf, Jim Broadbent, with Ray Winstone and John Hurt


“Any last words Dr. Jones?” – Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett)

“I like IKE!” – Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)

So it is 19 years after Indiana Jones’ adventure to find the Holy Grail where his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) was introduced, and the film also included franchise staples of Sallah and Marcus Brody. In the fourth film, we of course have Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) who we haven’t seen since “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

The film opens with a great scene of Indy and “longtime” sidekick George “Mac” Macale (Ray Winstone) being kidnapped by Russians led by Dr. Irina Spalko (Blanchett), and they take the two men to a remote military base in the dessert because Spalko wants something that’s inside this huge warehouse. She knows that Indy knows the contents of the case they’re looking for, and forces him at gunpoint to find the item she’s looking for.

Indy does find it, and Spalko has the Russian soldiers load the case into the back of her jeep and she scurries away. Indy then cracks his whip around, beats up a bunch of Russians and escapes. He escapes to a nuclear blast test site that is a mock suburban town, and as the countdown nears zero, Indy hides in a refrigerator and survives the blast.


I mean, he’s not outside of the blast radius, he’s at the heart of the mushroom cloud.

As the story progresses Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) is introduced and you can guess his significance to the story… He talks to Indy on and on and on about how his mother Marion and his “mentor” and Indy’s old classmate Dr. Harold Oxley (John Hurt) were kidnapped by the Russians and taken to Peru to find the – wait for it – crystal skulls. Indy and Mutt travel to Peru to save Oxley and Marion.

They fight Russians, fight weird ape style natives and try and prevent Spalko from obtaining the crystal skulls because the skulls power is – wait for it – mind control. The crystal skull looks like an alien head. Seriously.


Look. I love Indiana Jones. I grew up watching the films, and I love the series so much that I’ll defend “The Temple of Doom”. As for “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – I can’t even begin to defend the film, but what I do like to do is talk about how fucking terrible this film is.

The only other good scene is the scene that follows the opening, were Indy is being interrogated by two FBI Agents because his sidekick Mac was a turn coat and was working for the Russians. So Indy’s patriotism is being questioned. Indy explains that during WWII when he was an OSS Agent for the US Military he conducted a lot of covert missions with Mac who worked for MI6 and was a covert British agent. He talked to them about how many missions Mac and he completed – that short scene was so much more interesting than the crystal skull story line. I wanted to see Indy in WWII performing covert military operations, fighting Nazi’s once again.

First off, Harrison Ford isn’t believable as Indiana Jones. It breaks my heart to say it, but it’s true. It’s not because Ford is older, but because the story is so ludicrous, and the dialogue that Indy says (aside from “I like Ike”) is atrociously bad. Just because Ford is wearing a leather jacket and a fedora doesn’t validate anything. Nice try guys, B- for effort.

Cate Blanchett, who I love, is the best part of this film. The only down side is that she looks like Natasha from “Rocky and Bullwinkle”. The film does take place in the 1950’s – so naturally Indy is fighting the Russians. Cate Blanchett is wasted in this film.

Shia LeBeouf portrays Mutt who is Indy’s son with Marion. Yikes. I smell a spin off, “The Adventures of Mutt Williams” or “The Adventures of Indiana Jones, Jr.” Real nice. What’s even worse than this is John Hurt. He’s horrible in the movie, and has a terrible character. I strongly believe that Dr. Oxley was originally Sean Connery in the first draft of the script. You want to know how bad this film is? Sean Connery declined to participate in it. Double yikes.

What else de-validates this movie is the abundance of CGI. It’s disgusting how much CGI is used in this film. It’s fucking Indiana Jones! The first trilogy was filmed on location, featured miniatures, and a lot of camera trickery! Not fucking CGI!!!!! Triple fucking YIKES!

What made the “Raiders” and “Last Crusade” so good? There are a bunch of common elements: historical objects (The Grail, the Ark), took place in the dessert, had franchise staple characters of Sallah and Marcus, and fucking NAZIS!

What made “The Temple of Doom” mediocre? Aside from it being an EXTREMELY dark film (Lucas was going through a divorce while writing the script). It takes place in the jungle (Peru in this film), annoying characters (Willie Scott – Kate Capshaw), and in the new film Mutt Williams, Mac, Dr. Oxley. The artifacts are fictionalish – the three stones in “Temple” and the crystal skulls in this film. The crystal skulls are real, but they don’t look anything like they do in the film, and their authenticity is in much question.

I had an idea of what the fourth film should have been. It’s in the late 1950’s, and the lingering remains of the Third Reich are held up in South America. They’ve been excavating in Egypt because they’re looking for the Staff of Ra (which the headpiece of the staff was used in “Raiders”). William Hurt (who previously worked with Spielberg in “A.I.”) would portray the Nazi who would be Indy’s nemesis in the film. The Nazi’s are looking for this staff because it would, in theory, gives them the supreme and divine power to once again rise to power. Since Indy is not only knowledgeable of ancient artifacts, but also was an OSS Agent during WWII, the American government would ask him for his assistance.

This would not only bring the Nazi’s back into play, but it would also bring Indiana Jones back to the dessert like “Raiders” and “The Last Crusade” – it would also allow Sean Connery to return, and also allow the return of Indy’s old friend Sallah. I think that sounds like a much more engaging story, and a story that remains true to the previous Indiana Jones films. Just imagine William Hurt in Nazi attire, the Nazi’s finally acquire the staff, he’s holding it – he’s about to activate the staff – and in comes Indiana Jones, he engages with Hurt, cracks his whip, fights Hurt, and somehow the staff destroys Hurt because the power it holds cannot be manipulated by just any man, especially such an evil man (much like the Ark and the cup of Christ did to the bad guys in “Raiders” and “The Last Crusade”) and Indy watches Hurt’s demise he smugly says, “Heil Hitler”.

I think I’m going to resume work on my “Indiana Jones 4” treatment; I promise it will not have “Mutt Williams” in it.

I know you have to suspend believe while watching Indiana Jones films – but when Indiana Jones is standing at the top of a temple, and watches a fucking UFO fly from the temple and into space – that is where I draw the line. Indiana Jones and aliens don’t mesh with me. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford should all be ashamed of this finished product. Thanks for keeping up waiting for 19 years guys. I think there was a reason the previous installment was titled: “The Last Crusade”.

Rating: 3.5/10

The Man who Made Indiana Jones: Fedora



“You lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” – Fedora (Richard Young)

I recently watched “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” over the weekend, and I haven’t seen the film in probably four or five years and I forgot how fucking excellent the film really is. Every time I’ve watched the film, even as a little kid, I was always drawn to the character dubbed Fedora (Richard Young) in the credits. He’s never called by name in the film, but during the opening when Young Indy (River Phoenix) is watching the gang in the cave digging for treasure, the name Garth is mentioned.

Indiana Jones had met a wide array of characters in the films, but I don’t think anyone had as big of an influence on his life as Fedora did. Fedora has limited screen time, and few lines of dialogue, but during the opening sequence of the film – he’s the most important character. After Indy gets the cross from the gang and Indy gets chased to a circus train – Indy finds himself in a life or death situation when he falls into a train car that contains a roaring lion.

Indy tries to tame the lion with his whip, but Fedora and his men are on top of the train car looking down, and Fedora commands that Indy toss up his whip so they can pull him up. After Fedora rescues Indy, they chase beings again, as Indy escapes from the caboose Fedora watches Indy run down the train tracks, away from the hauling train. As Fedora watches him run away, he gets a smirk on his face.

When Indy returns home to tell his father what he had just done, his father essentially brushes him off because he’s working on his obsession of the Holy Grail. Fedora’s gang shows up with the town’s sheriff and the sheriff asks Indy for the cross back. Fedora’s gang is pompous and smug because they just won. But as everyone leaves, Fedora is left standing in the doorway. He removes his fedora and as he sets it on Young Indy’s head he says one of the greatest lines in film history: “You lost today kid, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” The film then resumes in real time where we see Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones – he’s on a ship, being held by men with blood coming from his busted lip. He’s smiling remembering Fedora’s words of wisdom.

It’s not that Fedora is sympathetic to Indy even though he’s the only one who shows respect for him; Fedora sees himself in Indy, and for that he gives him his fedora as if he’s passing the torch to him, telling him, “here you go kid, the job is now yours.” In the films when Indy is out in the field, he always has his hat, and risks his life on a couple of occasions to ensure that he has possession of his hat that Fedora gave him when he was a teenager. While it may not always be the same exact hat, the hat does symbolize Fedora, the man who made Indiana Jones.

When Spielberg shot the scene in the cave, where the men find this rare artifact, Fedora is hunched over, and he’s holding it – watching it. He’s mystified by the discovery and it’s then you realize he’s not after the money, he’s after the hunt. The tight close-ups, and the way the camera revolves around Fedora is much like the way Spielberg shoots Indy when he’s found the treasure he’s been looking for.

When we see Ford as Indiana Jones, he’s dressed exactly like Fedora was in the third film. His hat, his rough leather jacket – and even Fedora’s rough look and demeanor and right down to that signature smart ass smirk transcended to Indy. As the third film displays, Indy didn’t have a good relationship with his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) was obsessed with his work, too obsessed to provide the emotional commitment of being a father. Fedora accepted that role – though their interactions only lasted for a couple of hours when Indy was in his teens. Fedora shaped the man who stopped being “Junior” and became Indiana Jones.

In the original script the character of Fedora was originally Abner Ravenwood who was later played by John Hurt in “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” who was the father of Marion (Karen Allen) and dubbed as Indy’s “mentor”. To be honest with you, I completely ignore the fourth installment of the franchise. Lucas, Ford and Spielberg should have known better.

The fact that in the original script that Fedora was Abner almost solidifies the fact that Fedora is actually Indy’s mentor. Next to Indiana Jones, I think Fedora is the second most important character in the franchise even though he had maybe ten minutes of screen time and ten lines of dialogue. In that short time, we see Fedora in Indiana Jones, and in turn when we see Ford as Indy – I see Fedora.

After the films premier, Robert Young reprised his role as Fedora/Garth for a live performance of the opening show of the National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. This event was produced by Steven Spielberg. If you ask me, I think that’s pretty badass.

I would have liked to have seen more of Fedora, even an adventure of his since he is the precursor of Indiana Jones – but that’s what makes him so effective – is the fact that we know absolutely nothing about him – yet his story is told through the adventures of Indiana Jones.

Scenes I love: Schindler’s Tango – “Schindler’s List” – 1993 Dir. Steven Spielberg

This scene completely captivates me. It begins with Schindler applying his Nazi mask, and grooming himself to be a part of the regime. What really moves me is the simple dolly shot of Schindler sitting in his chair, holding a cigarette in front of his face, he watches us as we roll by him. Neeson gives us such a compellingly seductive look that brings us to his will. Watching Neeson make love to the camera is the most pleasurable part of this film that breaks my heart over and over again. Out of all of Spielberg’s great and not-so-great works, this short clip that includes the dolly shot of Schindler stands up against Spielberg’s best work. Enjoy.