Harrison Ford Isn’t Too Old, We Are.

I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on opening night with seven other grown men and had a great time chompin’ pop-corn and watchin’ Indy crack his whip and knuckles again after a 19 year break from the silver screen. How was the movie? Fun. Was it spectacular? Nah.

But I’ve actually been getting a kick out of listening to and reading all the negative reviews of the movie. While I agree with most of them as to whether the movie is on par with Raiders or Last Crusade (Temple seems to be nearly universally hated) – I’ve got a different take on it.

Like Star Wars Episode I, which came out 20 years after the last Star Wars film, Indy 4 was doomed to be criticized by those who loved the first three. (or at least two of the first three.) Interestingly, Episode I was met with mostly whining and complaining by all the twenty or thirty-something year old men (like me) who saw their first Star Wars film when they were a boy, but was loved by all the young boys who saw it. Hmmmm. Could it be it wasn’t really made for us grown ups? Yes, I hate Jar-Jar, but is Chewbacca really that much more believable or sophisticated? Would we really have loved Star Wars so much if we’d been our current age, then? My dad doesn’t seem as obsessed with Star Wars as I am, and he saw them all with me. I wonder why. Oh, yeah, he saw them as a grown up.

Which brings me to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The issue isn’t that Harrison Ford is too old. The issue is that we are. He did a remarkably great job doing an older, worn out Indy who could still crack a joke as well as a whip. In fact, he probably brought the most spark to the film. Indy 4 (a much easier to type title) had a no-win challenge. If it did what could be done 20+ years ago, we’d say it felt dated and didn’t take advantage of modern technology. If it did take advantage of today’s technology, then we’d say it lost the feel of the original films. Either way it can’t live up the expectation of being an Indiana Jones movie of the 70’s or barely 80’s. We want the movie to do to us NOW what the originals did to us then… too bad. We grew up. That’s one of the costs of growing up. We start to criticize and analyze too much. When we were kids, we just went to the movies and got lost in it. Those were good times.

My parents left me in the theater ALL DAY when Raiders came out. We were on vacation – I’d come to the doors at the front of the theater and signal thumbs up or thumbs down if I was going to stay in and watch again, or if I wanted them to pick me up. (In those days, they allowed you to pay once and stay and watch as many times as you wanted.) I stayed all day and watched it as many times as it showed that day.

So, yes. Indy 4 lacked the magic I hoped for – but I don’t blame the movie. I blame my age. But it was a fun film. A little far fetched at times, but, hey! It’s a movie! Ever hear a kid complain that a movie was too far fetched? I thought it was less scary, less gross and had less sexual humor than the earlier ones – and all the adventure and mystery for the most part. Realistic? Not a bit. Just the way a movie is supposed to be.

I’d love to be a kid again, but if I can’t, the next best thing is going to a good adventure movie. Pass the pop corn.

(You can read the official Kidology Review by Pastor Marty Martin on Kidology.org, he covers the Christian concerns angle so I didn’t bother here.)

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  1. Good review.

    Well, I can’t argue with you. Yes, I think you are right. My favorite movie growing up was the Never Ending Story. When it came out on DVD, I got it and made my wife watch it. I enjoyed every little bit… she hated it. For me, it brought back the wonder and amazement of watching it for the first 100 times. For my wife, it was a silly move with cheesy lines and with cheesy special effects.

    If I was watching The Never Ending Story for the first time today, I’m sure I’d love the story, but I’m would probably be turned off by the same things that my wife complained about. Like you said, I got old. If they came out with a Never Ending Story II (oh yeah, they did. I was hoping to forget about that piece of trash… and don’t even get me started on number three), there is absolutely no way I could be objective… at all.

    I agree with your summation. Indy 4 was a lot of fun. But for me, the magic was gone. It simply couldn’t compare… but I don’t think I really can judge.

  2. Kenny is freaking me out with the Neverending story reference… That was my favorite movie as a kid, along with The Last Starfighter.

    And you’ve totally summed up why is stinks getting older, movies aren’t nearly as fun anymore!

  3. Hey Karl,

    I’m sure you read my review. After I wrote it I had very similiar thoughts as you did. Seeing the movie through theyes of my kid it looks alot different. Same with Star Wars. The Magic comes with the age fo the person.

  4. Marty – yeah, good review. I didn’t bother with the “Christian review” as you covered that very well on Kidology, I should have linked it, I’ll add that above.

    Jonathan – I LOVED The Last Starfighter – that was a ton of fun, but I get it would seem lame now if we saw it for the first time. (even though there was some objectionable stuff in that too)

  5. I expected this from a SW prequel apologist.

  6. I went and saw Indy 4 and thought it was fun. It was fun to see Marian again. I agree with you Karl we are old. :-) My 10 year old and my 8 year old absoluetly loved it and I loved watching them watch an Indy movie for the first time in a theatre. For certain parts of the movie I loved watching my kids watch it instead of watching it. We’ll definetly get it on DVD when it comes out. I like that it was a movie my family could go to and enjoy together.

    If you really want a fun experience Indy 4 and Ironman are showing at the McHenry Drive-In theatre.

  7. RE: I expected this from a SW prequel apologist.

    I make no apologies for SW prequels, the classics are the ones I love and watch the most. I merely enjoy the new ones. Its ok to enjoy something. If everything were as “great” as we seem to demand, it all would be bland. It is the blandness of most of life that makes the great ones stand out. I don’t defend George Lucas, I’m just thankful for his creativity.

    Some time try getting some popcorn and just enjoy a movie. They can’t all be… whatever movie you like. :)

  8. I’m still not completely sure how I feel about this movie… In one sense, I would really have liked to see an Indy film like “Raiders” or “Crusade”, so I was partially disapointed. But at the same time I knew it wasn’t going to be the same so I didn’t really have a reason to be disapointed. I knew what I was getting into. So for the moment I’m kinda grouping it with “Doom.” It still fit the other Indy films in style, but the story was lacking what the two greatest Indy films had…

    P.S. And as for Ford’s age: I didn’t find that it effected the movie. He pretty much played the character the same as he always has.

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