Riverdale

Can we take a minute here to talk about Riverdale? Where did this show even come from? I mean last thing I heard, everyone that’s a Netflix tragic was crowing on about Stranger Things. I tune out for a moment, I look back and this strange piece of teen-angsty, murder mystery drama thing is going on. I’m confused…. about a number of things.

Still, despite my better judgement, I’ve been tuning in every week to try and make sense of of it all and; since it seems like we’re on mid-season hiatus in Australia at the moment now seems like as good of a time as any for me to bring it up. I’m still really confused about what is going on and whether or not I like. It seems to me like someone took a cartoon and then added a dash of Twin Peaks and a dollop of Gossip Girl and gave that a stir before throwing in some 90’s heartthrobs. Leave to simmer for half a season and BAM! There’s an explosion tension driven drama, punctuated by strange episodes of product placement and some incredibly iffy costume choices.

The basic plot seems to be that Jughead is writing a novel about a murder that has taken place in sleepy little Riverdale, which just happens to be the home of Archie and his posse of pals. The victim is the richest, my popular twin in town and everyone is a suspect. Said deceased twin has a very alive sister and she is the bitch of the piece. The arrival of Veronica is a challenge to that title though, as well at to Betty and her secret love of her BFF, Archie. Archie is of course too focused on the affair he’s having with his teacher to notice that Betty is in love with him. Spending 7 minutes in heaven with Veronica soon pulls focus back to his teen lady friends though and suddenly Archie has more female attention coming his way than he knows what to do with. There’s also a token gay best friend and some super hip band girls doing the backing track to the series too, and let’s not forget ol’ Juggie, banging away on his type writer and being super pissed that he’s not getting any play – all in all, it’s just like when you were in high school … except that it isn’t – at all.

Pilot
(so, DILF’s are really a thing now. Here’s candidate no. 1: Luke Perry)

I was put onto Riverdale by a friend of mine, who was pretty excited to see Luke Perry back in action. As a hardcore Beverley Hills 90210/ Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie) fan myself, it seemed too good to be true, so I had to jump in an have a look. I’ve got to confess, I’m still a hell of a Luke Perry fan too. After seeing him in this, I can’t decide if I want to marry him or have him for my own super cool dad… he’s probably not old enough to be my dad, so maybe I’ll go with marrying him. Maybe it’s fair to say that I’ve hung in with this purely for his wise interludes. He’s a single dad, just trying to connect with his musically inclined, super sensitive teen son. He’s really bad at finding common ground, but I appreciate the ultra-hip attempt he makes. One thing that really stands out to me though, is that Archie doesn’t really look like Luke Perry. Not in any way, shape or form. Kind of makes me wonder if Luke Perry is really even his dad. I mean… he’s just so normal looking when all the kids are not.

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As is the issue with a lot of CW televisions shows, everyone is too good looking to be true. Even when they’re not quite awesome looking (like in Gossip Girl) they’re still all way too good looking to be from your high school, or mine. Plus they all have amazingly expensive wardrobes and immaculate hair and nails. I don’t know about you all, but I don’t remember having time to style my hair every morning before school and a mani/pedi combo in the afternoon with my best girlfriends? No way. Even if my allowance had covered such a thing, those Mars Bars and teen magazines weren’t going to buy themselves.

Due to the super good looking thing, one of my main bugbears with this show is the colour scheme. Specifically, the colour scheme that is happening on Archie’s head. Eyebrows can be dyed in guys… stop fooling and either make him a red head of let him go back to his glossy chestnut mane. You can’t be half in/half out – you commit to the ginger or you don’t. There’s also something distinctly Edward Cullen about Archie, I can’t quite put a finger on it, but again I think it comes down to his pale skin (I can’t way he’s not going to glitter in the sun because it always seems to be overcast in Riverdale) and his gelled hair. In any case, the world has one Edward Cullen. That’s more than enough.

Veronica… what’s going on with your eyebrows? Your dye job is impeccable and you seem to be the next iteration of Blair Waldorf (still desperately seeking Chuck Bass), but there is something about those brows that just makes you look a bit cray-cray. I get that you’re the rich girl and hence, you get to wear a cape, but I am totally not buying your rich bitch, girl kissing, uber bitch persona. You’re edgy, but you’re not edgy enough.

Betty. You’re too pure to function. I have a feeling there’s some crazy (genuine crazy) lurking under your sweater sets and blonde ponytails though – so I’m going to all it early and say you’re my favourite girl on this show. Imma be rooting for you.

The real stand out for me overall though is actually Jug. When he first showed up on screen with his knitted crown beanie it was all I could do not to roll my eyes, but I have to confess he’s really grown on me. Since the little romance he is trying to kick off with Betty began I’ve found that I’ve begun to root for him. He’s not the snide and bitter guy he pretends to be in the early episodes, he’s actually deeply intelligent, lonely and misunderstood. I guess spending your formative years in the shadow of you best buddy will do that to you. I’m hoping hard that Juggie is really going to come into his own in the back end of the season. That would be nice… and really, I think that him losing the knit crown beanie is too much to hope for.

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(too cutie patootie)

and here’s another DILF…

skeet

Skeet Ulrich popping up as old man Jughead blew my mind a little bit. I know he’s been around in the odd television show or movie, but I’ve always remembered him best for one role and that was as Billy in Scream. I was never a hardcore Skeet fan after that movie, but look, I think we can all agree that if we’d been Sidney, we totally would have lost our virginity to him as well. Anyway, in the current era he has shown up in Riverdale as the once best-friend/business partner of Luke Perry and together they’re DILF-ing it off for all the ladies my age. Luke Perry is your classic nice guy, while Skeet is more of the bad boy (read: alcoholic gang member/biker). I don’t know which way it’s going to go between them. Feels to me like Luke Perry is too nice. Maybe I’ll also hang around just to get to the bottom of that plot point.

Having read back and considered what I have seen so far, I still feel less certain about Riverdale than I did about 12 Monkeys (which has officially become ‘a thing’, but we’ll talk about that later). I don’t know if I am going to push on. I have until the end of the month to decide. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens. It’s easy to forget that there is a murder at the heart of this drama. That it is, is a real problem.

Pilot: 12 Monkeys

It’s been a while since we did one of these and I’m feeling nostalgic, so today we return to premier/pilot episodes and we’re going to look at the SyFy series 12 Monkeys. When I first came across the serial adaptation of this story I was surprised because of all the wonderful films that could have been chosen, this just felt like a weird choice to me. Then again, it’s just another in a long line of serial adaptations that have been gracing our screens lately… Shooter (WTF is that show even about?), Lethal Weapon (I love you Damon Waynes but the jury is still out on this one) and Fargo (can’t stomach Kirsten Dunst, will probably never watch this) to name a few. Personally, I’d like to see Jumper adapted for television because that movie had potential, despite the wooden acting, and the novel was pretty damned impressive as well. But I digress…

I’ll preface by saying that I was not a fan of the film adaptation by Terry Gilliam. I’m not sure what it was that put me off, Gilliam’s trippy directing or Brad Pitt’s over-hype, but it certainly wasn’t the concept. I know I watched it more than once, wanting to love it, but I just never quite got over the line; much as I loved the scene with Madeline Stowe holding Bruce Willis as he bleeds out in front of a strange little boy who turns out to be young Cole.

Unlike other serials which we have discussed in previous posts, I haven’t seen this whole series and am not writing this in retrospect and with full knowledge of how the plot line will develop. As a result, I can’t really tell you too much about the plot, apart from what I know from the movie and what I have divined from the initial installment of the series – obviously. That is that a strange man named Cole comes from the future in order to try and prevent the release of virus that will wipe out the vast majority of humanity. Unlike your typical time travel film though, Cole jumps back and forth between 2043 and any date in the past. In the pilot episode he spends most of his time in 2013 and 2015 respectively, but the nature of the film plot was that he can jump into any time (sometimes by accident) so I guess that’s going to carry across here. Rather than time travel, jumping or looping this practice is called ‘splintering.’ I believe that has to do with the fact that as minor changes happen Cole doesn’t change or doesn’t perceive that he has changed and that his present time also remains relatively static. I am unsure of the last though, as this is the first episode, so we will have to watch and see. In any case, it’s another example of one of the time travel paradoxes that we see so often in time travel themed shows.

castWe break the past the future follows… but does it?

Cole is working on the assumption that if he can kill someone in the past then this will prevent the release of the virus and hence erase him from the future (his present). Life is so crappy in that time that he seems totally okay with this option. The issue that I have with this kind of plot line is that if one believes in destiny, does it not nullify the whole reason for the mission? Destiny or fate come up a little bit in this first episode and traditionally both suggest that certain events will come to fruition in the fullness of time; that there is nothing we can do in order to prevent this certainty. Sure the heroes of these types of plots may go around killing past versions of future villains, but they are surely enough always replaced by other villains, who step into the role in order to fulfill the immutable nature of destiny. Considering that Cole comes from a time where science is smart enough to have riddled out the particulars of time travel, how have they not worked this out?

Cole and Cassie
Do you believe in fate? If I say yes, does that mean that Cole and Cassie will become my newest favourite sci-fi couple?

I feel like this time travel adventure slips into the same kind of vortex as Terminator – except Terminator is darker and Kyle Reese is more dynamic than Cole. Don’t get me wrong, I see Cole maybe growing on me, but if he came back from the future and landed in the back seat of my car right now, I just don’t know if I could respond to him in the right way. Even though he is apparently immune to paradoxes, I just wonder if that negates the actual paradox issue and even though he does that cool thing with the watch and the knife, I just don’t know if I’d be buying what he was selling. I guess the problem with all time travelers is that the nature of traveling through time makes them skittish and unreliable, dirty and disheveled. Cole is guilty of all of these things in the pilot – we will have to see if he can overcome.

pilot
Not even a paradox can hold you back. Convenient.. but I guess it is a fine line between convenience and annoyance. Time will tell what side of the line this paradox avoidance will fall on.

Neither of the presumably main characters (Cole and Cassie) in this series are known to me as actors. This is beneficial because, unlike the film, they’re not carrying with them any social expectation or any shit like that. There’s no prior work to compare this to and so it is easier to accept them in these roles. Still, I don’t know how I feel about either of them. Are two unknowns compelling enough to carry a series? I guess David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were relatively unknown when the X Files was released and look how that turned out.

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The paradox watch demonstration Cole uses to discuss the relationship between past and future is kind of cool, but is it cool enough for me to come back for episode two? I don’t know. I wish there was some way of contacting future Racheal, so that I could ask her.

Sidebar: Why does everyone in the post-apocalyptic future have such good teeth? All our post-apocalyptic friends in this show, just like in Terminator, have great teeth – but no access to a good diet, clean running water or medical attention. This is a big issue for me. I feel it sets unrealistic expectations for when I finally meet my own time traveling love interest.

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Ah, there’s nothing like a horror movie remake to get you though the holiday season, is there? Especially when it’s a remake of a weird movie that isn’t really that well-known in the scheme of things.

When I first heard of My Bloody Valentine I had no idea it actually was a remake, I just knew it was going to be a movie about some dude in a miners get up, killing people on Valentine’s Day. Seemed like a real winner to me. But then it got made in 3-D (and this was back in the time before Avatar and every other movie that annoyingly gets made into 3-D, which is to say that the standards of 3-D were shit.

In this re-imagining of the original film everything has been given a trendy update. The cast is better looking, younger and generally more photogenic. Their fashions are a lot more forward and everyone has great hair, particularly the men folk, who are not only sporting some excellent gel work, but some pretty cutesy facial hair too – I’m looking at you, Axel.

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Jensen Ackles plays Tom and this time he’s the son of a wealthy mining magnate. Clearly Tom isn’t cut out for life working miles underground and, after a night of being remiss in his duties, is inadvertantly responsible for an explosion that traps Harry Warden and a bunch of his fellow miners. Much like the first film, Harry is the only man to make it out alive and it soon becomes clear that he has only done so because he’s put a pick axe through the foreheads of his buddies so as to conserve his own air.

Again, as before, Harry ends up in a coma, only to awake on Valentine’s Day in order to slaughter the town. After going through an entire hospital ward, he heads over to the mine, where Tom and his girlfriend Sarah are having a secret party with her friends, Axel and Noreen… or Doreen – I can never remember cause she is that inessential to the plot.

One thing I will say for this version is that the set up with Harry Warden makes a bit more sense and paves the way for a smoother delivery. As before though, little is said around why Harry freaked out to begin with. Sure, surviving a mine collapse is going to mess a brother up, but would it really be reason to kill all your buddies. More than that, is there any reason really to slaughter an entire hospital nursing staff? And, perhaps more importantly, what does Valentine’s Day even have to do with anything in this version? While in the original it was the annual V-Day dance that was responsible for the mine collapse, in the remake there is little rhyme or reason around why Harry decides to start cutting out hearts, except perhaps for his dumb luck coming out of a coma on Valentine’s Day in the first place.

Back to the plot though… since we’re dressing this one up a bit, in this version Axel is the town sheriff and he is married to Sarah (Tom has been away for 10 years this time instead of 5) and they have a son and Axel is also having some kind of tawdry extra-marital affair with the girl in the picture below. No prizes for guessing what happens to her.

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Sarah, rather than being successful, works for her parents, stacking shelves and packing bags in their grocery… way to help out the women’s movement love, but I guess the world needs check out chicks too. Anyway, Tom returns to town after the death of his father, in order to sell the mine that has caused such distress. This in itself stresses out the locals and acts as some kind of call through the ether to Harry Warden, who uses this opportunity to return to the community to once again cut out some hearts and cause some general mischief.

triangle
(torn between the ever handsome Jensen Ackles and the never aging Kerr Smith – who will Sarah choose?)

Unlike the original, there were some parts in this one that I genuinely found scary. As mentioned above though, it was shot for 3-D and as such a lot of the camera work doesn’t carry over to the standard DVD format and certain angles and scenes are peculiar. Don’t even start me on the scene with Noreen either. I find the whole concept distressing.

Despite the advances in visual effects, I don’t think this one has the same sort of heart (tee hee) as the first one. The reduced cast makes the plot easier to follow and there is no shortage of gruesome deaths because of it; still, I have a lot of trouble focusing on this one through to the end. I think the issue that I just don’t care who lives and who dies. Ultimately, they’re all kind of jerks and it’s hard to have a successful horror film when there’s no one to root for.

With that in mind, I’d only be recommending this one if you’re feeling a bit hard up for a horror film or if you’re really into 3-D movies that you can’t actually watch in 3-D. I know a lot of Supernatural fan girls might get their knickers in a twist about me dissing Dean Winchester (and look, I’m a Dean girl), but this ain’t Dean – this is Tom and he’s a douche.

My Bloody Valentine (1981)

I can’t believe its been 5 months since my last post. I guess time flies when you’re moving across the country, starting a new job, getting settled in a new town and hosting your family for Christmas. Still, I’ve been remiss in my posting and have been looking for a reason to triumphantly return. Valentines Day seemed like as good of a reason as any.

Now, if you’re anything like me you find Valentines Day to be one of the more depressing greeting card holidays that Western Society insists on celebrating year in and year out. You can call me bitter, because I am, but reminding people that no one loves them and that they’re five seconds off being a crazy cat lady seems like a cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on an ever growing number of socially outcast freaks – much of whom have enough trouble getting through the general day to day bombardment of everyone elses love affairs on social media. With that in mind, I usually like to spend my V-Day at home, watching something that captures the spirit of the day. Last year it was From Hell, this year I thought ‘self, let’s watch My Bloody Valentine – both the original and the remake, for that extra dose of ‘loved-up goodness’ and then review them for the blog we’ve been neglecting.

This movie got the remake treatment in 2009 – as mentioned above, but we’ll be getting to that tomorrow – but for the sake of authenticity I think it’s important to revisit the original before we get side tracked by Jensen Ackles and the pitfalls of filming low-grade horror films in 3-D.

The original film is actually one of the stranger horror films I’ve seen and it times it is difficult to commit to and you have a moment of wondering if there isn’t something better you might be doing. Still, despite some damn awful acting and some questionable dialogue, it’s an amusing watch if you persist through to the end. The basic plot is thus;

valentine-bluffs

Valentine Bluffs is a small mining town that loves to make a big deal out of Valentines Day. One year (in the late 1960’s by my mathematical reckoning) there is a huge V-Day celebration planned that everyone is super keen to get to. As such, the foremen at the mine decide to cut out early and leave a group of miners below the surface, where they are trapped after an explosion. The soul survivor, Harry Warden, waits a year and then comes back and murders those responsible for leaving him and his ill-fated crew below ground to perish. Thereafter he is committed to a mental hospital and no one thinks about him again for 20 years. This is where the movies starts. Once again it is Valentines Day and this year, the townsfolk have decided that two decades of mourning is more than enough and it’s time to get the Valentine’s Day train back on track… with interesting results of course.

high-quality

In order to sate their thirst for all things romance, they decide to throw a huge dance and, almost on queue, Harry Warden makes a miraculous return – with threatening notes that warn all the old timers that he’s going to come back and kill everyone as soon as anyone dares start celebrating this dreaded holiday. Do the people listen? No, of course they don’t. Before you can say Hallmark Greeting Card there’s more crepe paper and cardboard love hearts strung up than you can poke a stick at. Suffice to say, this pisses Harry right off – and as a man good to his word, he has to start killing.

As I’ve said, although the acting in this version leaves a lot to be desired, considering the era, its actually an okay watch so long as you keep an open mind. There’s a huge cast of characters – which means a huge playing field for the killer (is it really Harry Warden slaughtering the locals? – is it not? I’m not going to ruin it for you)…. and some of the deaths are really very creative and gory (for the time).

death-by-washer

I’m really partial to death by washing machine/dryer –  particularly because it’s the smell that alerts the sheriff to the body. Nice.

It’s important to remember going into this movie that it pre-dates the heyday of slasher films, which really kicked off a few years later with A Nightmare on Elm Street. When you consider it as a forerunner to that film and all the other classics that came after it, it makes it somewhat more enjoyable to watch and you can forgive a lot of the more confusing elements of the plot. Unlike some of the later slasher films, I also have to give this one credit for having a villain that has no special powers. If we look at Freddy Kruger or the later versions of Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers, they are in fact un-killable, which gives them a supernatural quality. In My Bloody Valentine our killer is pure flesh and blood human – and there’s a lot to be said for that fact.

forbidden-love

Oh, I guess it’s also important to mention that there is a love story element interwoven with the murder plot. Nothing lends itself to a mass slaughter quite like a love triangle – which is what we see here between Axel, Sarah and Tom. I’m not really clear on the nature or scope of their relationships, outside of the fact that Tom was with Sarah and then he left town and abandoned her. She picked up with Axel – who may or may not have been Tom’s buddy (poor form Axel) and just prior to the commencement of the film, Tom waltzes back into the piece to mess shit up. Indeed it is a tale as old as time and something to warm the cockles of the heart as we wade through the mire of discounted V-Day chocolates and wilted roses.

Overall, My Bloody Valentine is not quite as sharp as Prom Night and nowhere near as good as Halloween, but it’s a perfectly warm and fuzzy interlude for those of us who find themselves alone, yet again, on Valentines Day. Although the ensemble cast is a collection of unknown actors, with vastly differing acting abilities, they are likeable enough, while their fashion choices in particular make the film worth watching. Importantly, it’s also a timely reminder that things could be worse. Yes, we were alone but at least we didn’t end up with a pick axe through the forehead.

sidebar: for those of you who might have thought of this blog and our absence, even fleetingly over the last half year – I am sorry. We’ll be doing much better from now on and yes, I’ll be coming back around to a sci-fi focus soon.

Flashback Friday: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Well I might be four weeks late, but at least it hasn’t been 19 years between drinks and, as they say, better late than never.Now, without further ado, let us continue on then, with the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That’s right, the long awaited fourth chapter and sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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(this time we’ve moved on from the Germans, to the Russians! Sigh).

I remember seeing this film not long after it came out, because I was having some kind of ‘thing’ about Shia LaBeouf. It was about the time he was being touted as the next Tom Hanks and was on the cover Vanity Fair… and just about to begin the downward spiral. I still actually really rate him, but he’s certainly made some questionable career moves of late and to be honest, I haven’t seen him in anything since I saw him in Lawless (which I also rated very highly). I think that, no matter what crazy antics he gets up to though, I’ll always love him because of this video. Anyway, I saw this movie because Shia was in it and right from the word go, I was confused. I was confused then because I didn’t remember any of the original films and I am equally as confused now, because I just don’t get how anyone at any studio thought that this film, in this format was a good idea.

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but there is something about the way that the film was shot that makes me think that some styles of film making don’t carry well over time. Coming from a franchise with this much of reputation and film makers like Spielberg and Lucas makes it even more perplexing because I have seen a lot of their normal fare and this just feels like it was phoned in. It’s not like they have a shortage of talent either – you’ve got Cate Blanchett as the villain, Shia LeBoef as Mutt and John Hurt as Ox, the insane archaeologist. There is no reason that this shouldn’t work. But it doesn’t.

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Indy is looking a little worse for wear in this episode, that’s evident from minute one and really, you have to wonder if Harrison Ford hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew by taking this one on. Thus, we are introduced to his son, Mutt (don’t even start me up on that name). Mutt, it seems, was pegged to  take over the franchise, but I think our friend Shia was equally as unhappy with how the finished product turned out and wasn’t in a hurry to get involved again. On the positive side, I guess, we are treated to the re-emergence of Marion Ravenwood, who I have been rooting for since minute one. Poor Marion, it seems she got the be the mother of Jones’ son, while he was off running around on adventures without a care in the world. Just another example of what a top bloke he is.

What really does me in about this film though, more than any of the others, is the damn ending. Not just because it’s the same as all the others, in so far as Indy not really coming out any better off- spiritually or otherwise, and not just because the special effects are shit… but because of the UFO that launches out of the ground, carrying 12 crystal aliens.

Aliens. Seriously? Come on man! When you stack this film up against the other three it’s not only inferior, it actually detracts from the entire franchise (kind of like Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst, both of which hurt my heart). I know that the mythology of this film is not just the product of Hollywood. I know a lot of the early discussion about the different kind of crystal skulls is based in historical fact, but still, taking the plot from history and adventure into the realm of the paranormal just feels like the wrong choice. I can see why fans of the original films hated this one. You certainly come out of it feeling like you’ve been the unwilling participant in some kind of practical joke. Speaking of the special effect too, what are they all about? I mean they don’t even come close to looking real. Overall, it kind of gives the move a comic-book feel and I don’t see why it needed that.

At least I get my happy ending I suppose – with the marriage of Jones and Marion. ‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ Damn it, Ox, that is the most intelligent thing that comes out of this whole film and even though it’s a highlight, I just don’t know if your wisdom is enough to redeem it.

Safe to say, I’ll not be rushing back to watch this one again. The other three, maybe, but 4?? Nope, even Shia isn’t going to get me over the line with this one… and you know, I think he’d be cool with that.

shia-labeouf
(you do you, Harrison Ford, this ain’t the franchise for me)

Flashback Movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

In the immortal words of Celine Dion: It’s all coming back, it’s all coming back to me now…

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is now very evident that all of my childhood memories – hazy as they were – are actually of this film, rather than it’s superior initial instalment or the sequel. Also (perhaps) unsurprisingly, many of these same hazy memories centre on this scene:

River\

which we now know is right at the beginning and has relatively little to do with the actual plot of the film overall.

Speaking of plot, I don’t know what was going on in the film world in 1989 (I was 6 and preoccupied with Quantum Leap and my girlish crush on Sam Beckett), but it seems to me like Spielberg, Lucas and the studio got together and decided that they needed a ‘sure thing’ summer box office winner and that pumping out another Jones Film would be a sure fire way to get it. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this is a bad film, or that I didn’t enjoy it and giggle here and there; nor am I saying that I wasn’t happy to catch up with some of my favourite characters – because I did and I was. What I am saying is, that although I enjoyed this third instalment, I think it bears mentioning that it was pretty much the same plot as the first one, except in this instance, Indy’s comic relief is his father; while the romantic lead doubling as one of the villains ensures that Indy gets to flirt outrageously with the one true love of his life – himself.

lady
Lady… you ain’t got a chance….

Let’s look at the plot of Last Crusade: We open with Indy as a child (played by the iconic River Phoenix – sigh), chasing some grave robbers across the desert and stealing back an elaborate gold cross. ‘This should be in a museum!’ he keeps crying out, as he risks life and limb to preserve the precious piece of history… funny how we are filled with the best of intentions when we’re children isn’t it? Anyway, we encounter Indy as he gets the scar on his chin and meet his father (from the neck down), all the while gathering some back ground on how and why Indiana Jones of the first two films came to be the kind of man that he is – which is to say, a bit of a cad, a bit of an arrogant dick and a bit of a grave-robbing doucher. So far so good…. but then we revert back to the college campus where present day Indy is still a bad lecturer and Marcus Brody is still popping by the classroom just before the end of session and the little girl in the front row still has ‘Love You’ written on her eye-lids in texta pen …and it all seems a bit like de-ja-vu doesn’t it?

Flash forward and we find out the Indy’s father is missing, that he was off on the trail of the cup of Christ (which Indy is sceptical about, despite having already found the Arc of the Covenant, but okay) and that Indy is probably the only man alive who can riddle out the secret code of his father’s research and find both the cup and the old man.

For his part, Indy seems to swing back and forth between wanting to go and not wanting to go, but then a smokin’ hot blonde historian and the NAZI party get involved and he comes good. Safe to say that adventure ensures and the audience is traversing many of the same locales that we got to visit in the first films.

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Connery is always a solid choice for action films and father figures. I like him in most of the films I see him in (except for Entrapment… WTF was that even about?!) and I liked him in this. He does bring a good dose of comic relief to the role and, even when you’re thinking he is a complete twat, you’re often laughing along with him. I liked the scene where he is riding side-car to Indy and they have the argument about the legitimacy of the grail; but the later scene where he suddenly feels very sad that his only son has been killed in a car accident feels a bit forced. I don’t know if I can believe in parents suddenly caring deeply about their children after having spent a lifetime letting them do their own thing and having no apparent interest in them or their life choices.

sidecar
this touching side-car moment…

The NAZI’s are back as the true villains of the piece, only this time they are using the saucy blonde minx to throw both Jones Snr and Jones Jnr off their trail. They fall for it too – the pair of them – tsk, tsk boys, you should know better! Of course, the fact that the Nazi’s are back means that other characters get to put in a repeat performance, not the least of which is Sallah – and he is as fat and happy as he was in the original. Bless.

We also get a bit more guts out of Dr. Marcus Brody -who seems to be the only person in the film that considers Jones Snr the kind of friend worth having. I like Brody though, he’s cute in that bumbling and ridiculously ill-equipped way. I feel like he might have had some impact on John Hannah’s performance in The Mummy (I have a ‘thing’ with that movie though, so let’s put it aside for a later date).

It really is a bit of a boys club. Apart from blondie, even the disposable villains are blokes and they’re in no short supply, so I am not going to go into all of them here. Much like the first film, this is one of those adventure movies that works best when you just surrender to the ride. It’s not as annoying as it’s predecessor, because there are no screaming women… perhaps a reappearance from Short-Round would have been a boon though.

Retrospectively, I think I actually think the first film is better than this one, so from here on in, I might reserve my find memories of it. Best not to get ahead of myself though, we still have the 4th and (so far) final instalment to look at next week.

Side bar: Obviously I am late posting this and once again, I can only say I am sorry. This time I was trying to sort my life, which meant a trip to the Gold Coast, an interstate flight, a battle with numerous realtors and then a car trip back – all with only my mobile phone as a source of inter-webs access; and if Halloween taught us anything, it is that mobile phones cannot be trusted when writing important posts on film blogs…

Flashback movie Friday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Happy Friday, fellow sci-fi nerds! As promised, we are rolling on with the Indiana Jones saga and looking this week at the second instalment: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Unlike my experience with Raiders of the Lost Ark, I did remember snippets from this film, so I know I have seen it before. Still, those memories where nowhere near coherent enough for me to string any kind of plot together, so it was almost as good as watching it for the first time ever. Once again, I must say that I was very impressed with how well the special effects have held up on this film. I don’t know, maybe we have just gone too far with CGI in the current era, but I just love these old movies with their not quite realistic magical effects. It makes them far more fun.

Anyway, in this adventure, we once again find Indiana Jones, intrepid hero and sometimes professor of history/archaeology, stranded in the wilds of India; only this time, instead of an irate ex-lover and a delightfully jovial old friend, Indy is kept company by an orphaned Asian child and a blonde showgirl. The orphaned child is a sheer delight and provides the bulk of the comedic value of the film. The showgirl is a tiresome punish, but we will get to her later.

Unlike last time, in this adventure, Indy becomes the hero not in service of the government or for the benefit of his museum buddies – but for the benefit of an impoverished village who have had their children stolen, along with a rock/crystal, which is a source of power for them. The power of the rock is wrapped up with a few different strands of religion and mythology. Some well known Indian religious figures, such as Kali, figure into the plot, but then some of it is pure magical fantasy. That’s okay though, you won’t have much of a chance to really focus on that element of the plot – there’s too much action and too much noise going on.

I’ll come right out and say this: I did not like this chapter of the Indy story nearly as much as I liked the first one. I lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of Kate Capshaw.

See, unlike the delightful and feisty Marion Ravenwood of the first film, Capshaw’s Willie Scott is not cut out for any kind of adventure or heroism and as such, spends the majority of the film screaming, crying or scream/crying. Most exhausting. I almost think that Short Round (the orphaned child) was added in purely to balance out the fact that the love interest is so damned irritating. I get the fact that she is supposed to be this pampered showgirl that has never had a broken nail in her lift and I get that she is out of her element and is being forced (against her very strong will) to be brave… but for the love of everything holy! This woman has no sense of when to shut up! I don’t think there is a moment in the film, not even in the final credits, where she takes a moment to put things in perspective. She is far too busy focusing on herself and it is a pure let-down.

crying
by this point in time, I think Indy is wanting her to end up in the lava pit. the sheer noise she produces must be giving him a migraine. 

Despite what dragging Willie around does to the pace and entertainment value of the film, I did love the scenes in the mine cart, towards the end, where the trio must make their daring escape. The fight scene on the rope bridge is also excellent, although the alligators that are chomping up all the bad guys might have benefited from more attention in the editing room. Still, it’s nothing to get precious about.

Also unlike the first film, the sequel doesn’t have as much international travel, but don’t be fooled into thinking that the isolated location means there is any lack of action – because there isn’t. Also returning in the sequel is Indiana Jones the fumbling hero; so once again we’re seeing silly errors that a man of his intellect should be far too smart (and debonair) to make. There’s a whole extended scene in the opening sequence where Jones and Willie are chasing a poison antidote and a diamond through the bustling cabaret where pandemonium has just erupted. This scene goes on so long that I wanted to headbutt the both of them before it was over. Then there is the whole set of circumstances that gets them stranded in India to begin with… come on, Indy, put two and two together…

side bar: can someone please confirm that it is Dan Aykroyd with the uncredited cameo during the escape from Saigon?

screaming
guess who is STILL screaming…

Once again, Indiana Jones has to have some kind of romantic entanglement with his leading lady… maybe it’s his way of shutting her up? After all, it is hard to whinge when you’re sucking face with the handsome Doc Jones, but damn it, Willie puts up a strong effort. Maybe he is just taking what he can get since certain death seems to be around every corner? Maybe he needs to balance his supreme intelligence with being a cad? Anyway, I didn’t like this match from minute one. I can see what they were trying to do – making her feisty and a bit more sexually available than Marion was in the first film (trust me, there’s no thinking that Willie is the kind of girl that wants to settle down for love or that she will be holding a torn for Jones a decade after their relationship inevitably implodes), but I think she was just too annoying and the chemistry wasn’t there between Capshaw and Ford. The scene at the end where he wraps his whip about her waist and drags her towards him (kicking and whinging) feels more like Jones is wanting to punish himself than anything else. I mean, come on Indy, do you hate yourself? Get home and romance one of the dozens of buxom co-eds that are darting about just dying for you to notice them. At least they’ll be quiet.

All things considered though, I found this to be an enjoyable film (it is very long though… or seems long). It’s not something I would put on high rotation in my house and I am always going to dislike the constant whining of Willie, but at the end of the day I would happily revisit it if the mood and setting were right.Maybe a decade from now I will nostalgically watch it again… okay, half a decade.

it wont last

it’ll never last, Indy. You’re still a dick and she’s more work than any man should have to suffer.

This brings us to instalment three of the original series and, purely through my deductive powers, it is this instalment where the bulk of my hazy memories MUST be coming from. I am excited!

See you next week, my darlings, when we look at Indian Jones and the Last Crusade!