Past Entertainment Articles.
Article for the week of 5/29/08
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones has always been a classic thing for me, since the series is physically older than I am, and it was the sort of thing one would watch in awe at your neighbor's house and find unbelievably awesome as a kid, and like a true classic, they only got more awesome as I grew older.
Considering it has been 19 years since The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is bound to be a walking mountain of awesome now, then?
Well, there we can debate.
Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull takes place a rather appropriate 20 or so years after The Last Crusade, meaning the 50's and Indy's a rather old man. Fortunately Harrison Ford still plays the role with the same sort of charm he always had, and Indy's always had great dialog to work with, a trend which continues in Crystal Skull.
The rest of the characters are also rather charismatic, with Shia LaBeouf's character Mutt Williams quickly becoming a personal favorite, with his greaser attitude and obsession with his comb, although the return of Karen Allen as Marion from ďRaidersĒ is also rather nice. One could have wished for a return of Sean Connery, but you can't have it all, I guess.
Now while Russian villains certainly fit in with the 50's theme, and there is a giant fear of commies throughout the movie, Cate Blanchett's character Irina Spalko, for all her loony-ness, simply is not a great villain. Sure she is a bit ruthless and are in some of the cooler action-scenes, but she is standard villain 1a in a lot of respects, and while this might be part of the charm, she never feels as interesting as Indy and Mutt does. Then again, I suppose villains don't have to, while Mac, played by Ray Winstone, sort of falls in some sort of greedy gray-area and is generally good for a laugh or two.
So the acting is pretty good, and the dialog is certainly witty and funny enough, but what about those other things that would make a great Indiana movie? A psuedo-religious story and good action-scenes? Well rest easy on the action-scenes, which while a bit CGI heavy, are top-notch at a lot of moments, although there is a pretty heavy need for a suspension of disbelief in some cases, but that s more of a lot issue which I shall address later. The main line is, there is a lot of cool action that in some cases reminds me of good ol', but not really old at all, Pirates of the Carribean. There is even a swordfight and a reason to become even more creeped out by ants, and of course there are a few good jokes strewn in to maintain the Indiana Jones feeling.
So, finally, the plot, which I will try not to spoil except to say that monarchies of shiny glassy craniums do not interest me in the same way the Holy Grail or the lost Ark, or Hindu gods did. While it is the 50's, and the journey to said royally governed country is excellent, the aforementioned headbones are a bit to much sci-fi for me to fully enjoy it. It goes over the top in a way that feels rather cheap, to be honest.
However, if one can stomach this part of the plot, then Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is more than worth seeing for the die-hard Indy fans, and everyone else too. If you never liked Indiana Jones to begin with then I'm guessing you sympathized with the Nazis and should go drink from a fake Holy Grail.
So to summarize, if you think that hat is the coolest thing ever, don't miss the Crystal Skull, if you're looking for something good and fun on the movies and have already seen Iron man (if you haven't, shame on you, it is absolutely fantastic), go see it!
Prince Caspian a delightful treat for C.S. Lewis fans
By Ezra Mann
When the super geek segment of the population learned that Disney, responsible for such atrocities as the sequels to Waltís classics, including the Little Mermaid 2, would make the Chronicles of Narnia into more movie adaptations there was a shudder felt in pocket protectors around the world. Two movies later, here we are and still no apocalypse.
Thankfully, the latest Narnia offering, Prince Caspian, picked up where the last movie left off without alienating hardcore C.S. Lewis fans and avoiding insult for those who just wanted to visit the cinema. Though, if you donít know by now, the Narnia series is very heavy in Christian elements and if you donít like that kind of thing, youíre probably best suited not going to see this movie. However, most of the Christian references were subtle and the obvious moments did not rub it in the face of those not practicing the faith.
Prince Caspian returns to the world of Narnia several hundred years after The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe was set with previous characters Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) Pevensie returning to a land drastically changed from their last visit. Things arenít so happy go-lucky with the Telmarineís having conquered much of the world and wiping out many of the native Narnians who flourished once upon a time.
Itís up to the Pevensies and a fleeing Prince Caspian X (Ben Barnes) to set things right before evil such as King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) sends the fantasy land into further chaos. Thankfully, other than a few stereotypically Disney-esque cheesy touches, Caspian actually improves in adaptation making this go-round something long time fans shouldnít get overly upset over. That, and hearing Liam Neeson again as the voice of Aslan is still one of the best moves of the flick series.
Caspian also improves over the first movie in making everything feel deeper, with stronger emotions, more exciting battle sequences and humor cleverly placed at appropriate moments. All around, this movie should be appropriate for any age group with the whole family able to enjoy.
Moviegoers are kept on the edge of their seats as well as awake, which was a plus for me, since I decided to see one of the later night showings. The costumes were spot on, with each character well defined, especially the Telmarine military force with masks appropriate for Greek Mythology buffs. The only thing I might have changed is removing the pop happy song at the end.
After the movie was over, I felt that my money was well spent. It didnít feel too long or rushed with proper pacing from scene to scene.
It may not be quite on the level as some of the lengthier epics, but keep in mind this series is at least half meant as a moral lesson for kids growing up. That aside, be prepared for an experience full of clever storytelling with another way to escape from our lives that can get too real. In the end, I give it a substantial three and a half mighty roars out of five.
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