Disappointing Sequels

Watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull yesterday. I had been hearing bad reviews of it for some time, with most debate focusing on whether or not it is worse than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The South Park satire finally gave me no choice but to watch.

Crystal Skull made me think of Oblivion, another piece of art that was the fourth in the series and much worse than the third. Their similarities do not end their. Both are lobatomoizations of what had come before: both Oblivion and Crystal Skull maintain the art direction and “world” of what had come before. But the logic is gone. The game preceeding Oblivion, Morrowind, presented players with a fully realized world where one could play for 100 hours, save the world, and never die. The movie preceding Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, expertly mixed a romantic view of archaeology, a romantic view of Christian traditions, and a romantic view of European lore to tell a story of a father and son.

Crystal Skull is unfiarly panned for many elements which could have made an excelletn Indian Jones movies. Crystal Skull is set in the 1950s, so its use of an early Cold War mythos is fully appropraite. But nothing makes sense. It’s a Mummy movie that somehow stars Indiana Jones. Like Oblivion is a puzzle game that somehow takes place in Tamriel.

10 thoughts on “Disappointing Sequels”

  1. I haven’t seen it yet, but I did see the South Park.

    I thought setting it post WW2 was fine, but some how it should have ended up as Indy vs Nazi in South America questing for some relics.

  2. Last time I checked Oblivion was more than just a “puzzle game” set in Tamriel. It had the same elements of Morrowind but also had the epic quest(save the Kingdom and help reunite the world) with plenty of side adventures if you wished but was a bit of a let down after you saved the world because there was no heir to the throne. So everyone is kinda like, “woo we aren’t dead but wtf do we do now!?!?!” Still a great game if you enjoy a solid RPG when you have free time.

    I’m with you on Indiana Jones. Using aliens was just a cop out and too predictable.(who survives a nuclear attack, HONESTLY) Mostly you just want to say, ‘meh’ after watching it.

  3. I must, of course, thank Aaron for making my play of Oblivion possible.

    I remember watching Last Crusade on VHS, and being upset that communists were no where to be seen as villains… so I’m happy that Crystal Skull fixed that.

    I also thought that aliens were fine, and the introduction of 1950s mythos elements was clever. The movie had problems finding a real good v. evil narrative (given a choice between a Crusader and Nazis it’s a no brainer — but between an Alien and a Communist?).

    Oblivion is a puzzle game in that I don’t think it’s possible to play it in a ‘normal’ way without dying. The game is really a system of levels (that’s why there’s no levitation anymore — it would mess up the rail-shooter logic), and you need to find the trick in the level in order to progress.

  4. My theory is that the original George Lucas was replaced by an evil robot bent on destroying everything that good George Lucas ever touched. The lady and I just watched Indy 4 as well and hated it. We could barely stand to finish the movie and spent half of it saying the characters lines before they did.
    It was like a cartoon of Indiana Jones, a good idea, reduced to its core components and put into a wacky situation.

  5. We watched Last Crusade together — it was like a breath of fresh air after being stuck in Beijing traffic. Writing that works on multiple level (“How did you know she was a Nazi?”; “She talks in her sleep”), causal chains (the Nazis getting equipment from the Republic of Hatay [1], v. the Soviets just having gigantic earth moving equipment deep in the Amazon), historical correct details (the map of the Norman conquests in a movie about Norman crusaders) — an amazing movie that never gets old.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Hatay

  6. @biz, an excellent theory, sir! Lol! Jar-Jar Binks pretty much sealed the deal for me on old (good) Lucas vs new (evil) Lucas. Evil Lucas is making two hour long Burger King commercials.

    I like Oblivion but I do agree it’s a bit mechanical, less fluid and organic than it’s predecessor. Morrowind was just as huge an environment but with less repetition. And I too miss the levitation/flying. As well as the broader aspect of weaponry and skills.

  7. Wa? Yousa no lika di Jarjar? Misa neva hurda sucha thing!

    Honestly, considering the presence of R2D2, C3PO and the Ewoks in the first trilogy, I think a lot of the flap over Mr Binks to be overblown. And his minor- but key- role in the Attack of the Clones did add a somber counterpoint to his comic relief role in Episode I.

  8. I think what this is boiling down to is, he wedged a complex study of the interaction between good and evil into a series of heroic special effects flicks–without making sure there was a good fit.

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