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What the Hell Movie Moment #1
This the Movie Arbiter's What the Hell Movie Moment of the Week. This week's installment is from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Incredible Monkeyman
Let’s be honest, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a descent enough standalone action movie, but is in no way on par with the original trilogy. It was a disappointment for anyone who got their hopes up of returning to the glory days and seeing Indy in his prime. Although to be fair, we may have set the bar too high and should have known better. With that established, the film is still enjoyable and it was nice to see the raider dust off his hat an whip one last time, even if it didn't live up to our high expectations. I welcome the historical shift to the Cold War Era, as it was chronologically sensical with the franchise’s established universe and feel that it was the most logical move, given Ford's current age. I’m willing to except the crystal skull artifact in exchange for the more typical, recognizable religious artifact and even a few of the more ridiculous scenes in the movie, which people often heavily criticize (refrigerator blast scene, everyone hates you).
I commend the decision and welcome Karen Allen's return, as Indy's love interest. If he was going to end up with one of the established franchise women, there's no comparison that she's the most obvious choice. While it'd been nice to see some other familiar faces, such as Sallah, Marion Ravenwood's appearance radiated some desperately yearned nostalgia. The rest of the cast does their job and is what you'd expect from an Indiana Jones film.
However, was necessary to have Shia LaBeouf swinging from vines with a bunch of monkeys, while playing ridiculously cheesy music? Every time that I see this scene, my eyes can barely believe what they're seeing. What the hell were Lucas and Spielberg thinking? The rest of the chase scene through the rainforest is action packed, paced well, and boasts the typical ludicrousness that is expected. But then Shia starts Tarzaning it up with a bunch of little primates through the trees and conveniently swings back onto the group's vehicle. His new fury friends overpower the villains and LaBeouf snags the crystal skull, before diving back into Indy’s automobile.
Is that really the best they could come up with for reacquiring the sacred artifact? Most people go onto criticize the sword fighting, but that is at least a plot point, as it’s established that Mutt (LeBouf) had once fenced. Why isn’t Mutt just knocked onto the Soviet’s vehicle and then continue the duel, before using an opportune moment to regain the skull. I understand that it wouldn’t make much sense for him to best the cold, ruthless Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), but Mutt is resourceful enough to grab the skull and retreat, as is demonstrated in the monkey scene. Instead of adding more absurdity to this film, would this not have assisted in showing that the young man is indeed the legendary archeologist's son? Instead you’re more likely to believe that Tarzan was his father. They certainly missed an opportunity to further develop the character and show Indy’s trademark brawling techniques shining through in his son.
Shai LaBeouf actually commented on being unable to get passed the scene himself and his own performance, even though I personally don’t believe his performance to be anywhere near horrible.
“I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished…You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple,” the young actor explained to the L.A. Times.
The Indiana Jones Series is riddled with the unbelievable and supernatural, which usually adds an additional level of fun. However, this scene is just laughably ridiculous, completely unnecessary, and adds nothing to the plot. I'd argue that it actually takes away from the story, since it is beyond unbelievable. This ludicrous, furry, swinging scene deserves nothing more than this week’s What the Hell Movie Moment of the Week.