Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones

I figured if I was going to see the new "Indiana Jones" flick, I better see it fast, before the bad buzz and backlash overwhelmed any pleasure the film might have to offer. Smart move, since I had a good time with it despite its obvious inadequacies. Someone somewhere wrote that one should think of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" as a stand-alone movie, and the next three films - "Temple of Doom," "Last Crusade" and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - as the "Indiana Jones" trilogy. That works for me. The three films following "Raiders of the Lost Ark" are all pretty silly but enjoyable, and the new one is no exception.

That said, it is a pretty lazy movie. David Koepp in particular deserves a few minutes in the screenwriting penalty box, but in his defense maybe he did the best he could do. He's quickly become Spielberg's screenwriter of choice, and as such was dealt a pretty bad hand with "Crystal Skull." The movie had been in development forever, and went through several drafts from other prominent writers. It was Koepp's job to put all the disparate pieces together and satisfy taskmaster Lucas.

Here's a story for you. Years ago I interviewed Koepp. Right at the start I asked him about the mostly lame "Jurassic Park" sequel, which features a teenage girl using her gymnastics skills to best a killer beastie. "Whose dumb idea was that?" I more or less asked. Koepp took offense and got snippy. "Well, why don't you try writing something," he snapped. But later, after he mellowed out and I had proved I was more than just some jerk, he turned off my recorder and implied the sequence was totally out of his control, and he thought it was lame, too. He still took the check and the credit, mind. That's Hollywood for you.


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