Hollywood Unoriginality Ratio: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

May 24th, 2008

Please don’t mistake this for a review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which I saw today with Bevin at Regal Davis Stadium 5 (apparently the place to go for the popular films around here). I mean, sure, this movie was an absolute riot, a wonderful revisiting of a beloved character that I felt fully lived up to the legacy set before it not by being amazing but by simply being entertaining throughout (not quite as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but really, what movie could be?). The important thing is, HOW WERE THE TRAILERS?!?

I absolutely love going to big blockbuster films close to their release dates. Even when they’re complete crapfests, the experience of sitting in an audience full of enthusiastic moviegoing patrons is like no other. There’s a genuine electricity in the air. But best of all, they have more trailers! Not to mention a wider variety of trailer genres. Unfortunately, these trailers must be so new that they haven’t all been put online yet; I’ll update these entries with links when I can track ’em down.

Ah, Islamic terrorists. My generation’s Nazis/Communists, these pesky middle eastern extremists find their way into pretty much every film nowadays (including Iron Man) as the go-to generic villains. I dig Don Cheadle, and Jeff Daniels was in Speed, so I might hit this up if I’ve got the cash, and someone to go see it with. Wikipedia tells me Steve Martin came up with the plot and is executive producing! Take that for whatever it’s worth, but he didn’t seem to be inspired by anything beyond the Iraq War, so at least it’s ORIGINAL.

The Dark Knight

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Now this one intrigued me. There is almost no dialogue in this trail, which depicts the story of a man who ages backward and falls in love around the middle of his life. I’m not some kind of Brad Pitt superfan, but I certainly appreciate his acting ability, and hey, Cate Blanchett of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull fame is there too! The lack of voiceover certainly made me sit up and pay attention, and the imagery was compelling enough to keep my eyeballs on the screen. A quick Wiki look, however, tells me this is based on a 1922 short story, and is therefore an ADAPTATION. Not necessarily a terrible thing (if you’re gonna base a movie off a short story, stories of antiquity are probably the way to go so that no one remembers how they went), I’m just sayin’ is all.


*puts on Jerry Seinfeld mask* What is the deal with exterior shots in movies being so blatantly bluescreen CGI these days? *takes off mask* That opening shot of Nicole Kidman starting to tell a random little girl a story (a really boring generic one by the sound of it) just looks awful. Poignant opening scenes shouldn’t look like they’re on a soundstage. Is it that difficult to roll a camera in the desert around sunrise/sunset when there are some clouds in the sky? Also, is the little girl a Hollywood movie producer, and is Nicole Kidman pitching her latest movie idea? If so, I wouldn’t buy it. Like Benjamin Button, this trailer has a long stretch of non-dialogue, but the images simply weren’t as compelling to me. Huge Ackman of Swordfish fame doesn’t compel me to shell out $10 either. ORIGINAL, but not necessarily good. I’m not seeing much intersection on that particular Venn diagram.

Kung-Fu Panda
Ugh. No no no. As much as I love Jack Black, I refuse to see a vehicle movie starring him as a fat cartoon panda. I prefer movies starring him as a fat human who rocks. ORIGINAL? Sure, I guess.

Eagle Eye
Apparently there’s a small “trailers starring characters from the movie you’re about to watch” theme. It’s like some shitty recommendation system: “If you like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you may also like…”. Sorry, but I don’t actually like Shia LeBouf. The bitter taste of Transformers and those voyeuristic robots watching kids dry-hump is still fresh in my mind (if minds could taste things, anyway). When the phone rang, I thought for a split second that it was one of those “please turn off your cell phones” ads, because the whole thing’s just so damn generic. Shia LeBouf gets phone calls BROUGHT TO YOU BY SPRINT and there are guns and explosions and jumping from high heights, but at the end I had no idea what the hell was going on. Is it still ORIGINAL if I thought it was some kind of new Matrix movie, with the prescient phone calls and the slightly green tint on everything? I guess it still is.

Total: 28.6% (2/7)

Let’s break it down: as of a May 24th screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at Regal Davis Stadium 5 in Davis, CA, Hollywood is en route to being 28.6% unoriginal. I can’t remember the last time I counted this many movies not derived from a prior story at one screening. I’d consider this quite refreshing… if Kung-Fu Panda didn’t exist.