So… I ended up seeing Indy again for the third time instead.

Taking that into account, I figured now was as good a time as any to chime in with my opinion on the film. (There may be spoilers. I’m not sure.) I am well aware that the bigwigs over here at Chud were less than thrilled with the latest concoction from Spielberg-Lucas Confections LTD. That’s all fine and dandy and I respect their opinions; but I think my view leans more towards the Aintitcool crowd, which seems to have been more forgiving – even quite pleased. (I don’t mean the Talkbackers – That’s another ball of wax entirely, but I don’t waste time arguing with or about people who like to write things like: “Indy 4 is teh ghey” or something else supposedly amusing – truth is, I could give a rat’s ass about what that’s even supposed to mean.)

Nick has a point when he says that it’s very easy to review a movie like this with your heart. At the same time, I think it’s almost impossible not to. Especially when you’re as big a fan of this series as I am.

Frankly, I see this every bit as endearing and engaging, on a purely nostalgic level, as Rocky Balboa or Rambo. It’s a huge slab of the familiar served pretty much as I expected it to be served. I was not disappointed in the least the first time I saw it. I was relieved. Because it was an Indiana Jones movie.

I really don’t see the problem. It opens with a solid action set piece, it establishes an intriguing premise fairly quickly and then rockets right back into the action. You have military bad guys, creepy crawlers, an extended climactic car chase sequence, a mini-boss receiving a violent and gruesome comeuppance, the grandiose final discovery, and a villain who is destroyed by her own ambition. All peppered with camp and cartoonish excess.

The formula is all there and followed to the letter.

And all that stuff that Lucas was saying about this being in the tradition of a 50’s Sci-Fi B-Movie? I get it. They pulled it off. The whole plot is built around saucer men, it has nuclear age paranoia, it even has creature-feature elements if you think about those giant man-eating ants. Next to Temple of Doom this is the one that feels most like a cheesy B-Movie. Something George Pal could have made in ’58. Ultimately, I think it succeeds at being precisely what it set out to be. If a movie complies fully with its own intentions and on its own terms, then I can’t fault it for that.

Does it have flaws? You bet! A Nazca Airport? Mexican music setting the stage for Peru? Pancho Villa’s men speaking Quechua? I’m very picky about cinematic depictions of Latin America and, as usual, this is stuffed to the brim with horseshit.

And yes, they could have found more for Karen Allen to do and she looks older than I wanted her to. Yes, John Hurt is a brilliant actor given about 3 more lines than he had in The Skeleton Key. Yes, Ray Winstone’s “death scene” is kind of stupid…

But I don’t really care. The things that do work, work well enough that I can overlook those flaws. Nothing comes close to being as grating as Ke-Huy-Quan’s one-liners. And the story is packed with enough mythological “facts” to make it engaging for me. I love connecting Pre-Columbian civilizations to men from outer space (or the space between Dave Matthews or whatever the fuck John Hurt says at the end). All this stuff gives me the shits. In a good way.

Also, it was a thrill to actually see Harrison Ford in a watchable movie again. Can you even remember the last time that happened to you? Come on! After his Russian accent in that submarine movie with the awful title or having the near-death experience of watching him trying to be funny with Josh Hartnett or the excruciating pain of that sequence where he hits one of Paul Bettany’s goons over the head with a coffee maker – the relief I felt here was akin to pinching a loaf after a week’s worth of constipation. 

And isn’t it nice to see Spielberg having fun again? Showing that he can still do stuff like this that isn’t so bogged down and pretentious… Can you even remember the last Spielberg number that, merits aside, wasn’t inherently depressing?

And that shot with the mushroom cloud? Gotta have a poster of that.

Anyway, the first time I saw it, I was able to surrender to its charms and just enjoy it for what it was. And then, on subsequent viewings, I have come to actually appreciate it even more. I am not ashamed to say that I loved this new Indiana Jones picture every bit as much as I’d hoped I would.

But what do I know?

I think Return of the Jedi is best in the trilogy.

Go ahead and throw your fucking tomatoes. I won’t even bother ducking.