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Dee Yun: (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-06-02 06:36:13
Firstly for the late post. Lack of sleep kept me from being coherent enough to even drop my usual babbling.
Secondly for the site's downtime today and other issues over the weekend. It's a result of our host having troubles with "electrical current thermal events":
"...in our H1 data center, electrical gear shorted, creating an explosion and fire that knocked down three walls surrounding our electrical equipment room. Thankfully, no one was injured. In addition, no customer servers were damaged or lost."
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I want to preface my keen analysis with the observation that I have not yet actually seen the film. Also, my keen analysis is largely that of hearsay of others' keen analyses.
I'll start by mentioning that we have a guest review ranted by Squishy Comics' Mike Corse. Like most of my friends who've seen it, he seems to genuinely enjoy portions of it, but something about the film grieves their souls.
I got my first clues when I saw the trailer. After a brief discussion, a buddy and I decided that the film had a full three strikes against it.
1) No Nazis. Which one was the weak link of the original trilogy? That's right, the one without Nazis.
2) Rampant CG. Spielberg promised that it would be employed only where necessary. Apparently "necessary" in director's film language means "all over your mom's face".
3) I heard that George Lucas was the only one who liked the script. And he knows all about great scripts.
1UP Yours podcaster, Shawn Elliot, made some intriguing comments about the film. He noted that it was "structurally and conceptually based on videogames". He notes that Indy's new adventures consist of "monster closets" that spawn enemies, platforming sequences, Assassin's Creed-style free running, on-rails driving, and the titular Crystal Skull itself functioning as Half-Life 2 's gravity gun to solve environmental puzzles.
Games can get away with that sort of nonsense because they're interactive. I'll be the first to admit that watching someone else play a game can be entertaining, but as a full length feature film? Erf. Elliot commented that he wanted a controller so he could press a button to skip some of the "cutscenes".
He and fellow podcaster, Shane Bettenhausen, then discuss the consequences of the extensive CG work. As in today's strip, it results in a loss of genuine emotion and sense of danger. Bettenhausen notes that actress Marion Ravenwood spends the duration of the film laughing her head off at all the "peril".
What capped it off for me was when he mentions a scene in which a CG prairie dog is rendered coming out of a CG prairie. I was always of the mindset that CG was used to generate effects when a scene was either impossible or cost prohibitive to film in a traditional manner. How fucking hard is it to find a prairie in America?! And prairie dogs aren't exactly an endangered species either.
The only time you should see that much digital trickery in one shot is in a fully CG animated work, like the great stuff Pixar does. Otherwise, filmgoers' minds and hearts will simply reject it as repulsively artificial.
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