Another Vacation Gone Forever

*No new comics until Thursday, which means Diamond doesn't issue their weekly list until Tuesday afternoon, which means no weekly comics feature on this site until late Tuesday. Diamond could suddenly delay Final Crisis #1 until October, so I insist on having the completed list handy.

*It was a nice Memorial Day weekend; we all had a cookout, and my parents took me up to the cemetary to tour their plot. They're last in their row out toward a curve in the road, so my mother has asked for the inside seat, lest a passing car clip her toes. The rest stops gave out free coffee and tea on the drive back to my building.

*I also saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull this weekend, and I didn't like it much. I mean, if there's gonna be computer animated critters popping up and mugging for the camera, you might as well have them wearing shades and riding skateboards - you've already crossed the line. To say nothing of the instant classic 'swinging' scene, which had one of my friends clutching his head and saying "George Lucas," the name itself being a pejorative. I did think it was wrong to instantly blame all the dumb stuff on Lucas, although I didn't want to invoke the 'gymnastics 1, dinosaurs 0' bit from The Lost World: Jurassic Park in front of a crowded theater, or anywhere, ever, without the safety of the internet in front of me.

Um, the motorcycle chase was neat? I liked the noisy '50s Red Scare nuclear America parody parts; it's too bad the '50s-specific stuff vanishes totally after 45 or so minutes. I didn't think it was much like a sci-fi B-movie at all, which was inevitable, I think, given how many expectations an Indiana Jones movie has - he has to solve silly puzzles and encounter gross bugs, and the magic item has to somehow kill the main villain (Cate Blanchett looked nice but her character was so boring), and there has to be cliff-hanging derring-do. All this one did was make the typical 'magic' ending extra-thick with Science!, like an overthought superhero revamp.

And, you know, even that might be kind of fitting for a battle against those godless Commies; there's a bit of throwaway dialogue near the end where Blanchett expresses enthusiasm for the collective will on display vis-a-vis the film's big treasure, and it sort of approximates the seed of theme. The early parts of the movie made it seem like the muscular Saturday serial adventure of the early films would crash into the moody, anxious nature of the atomic sci-fi pictures of the time in a more substantive way, and I'd have liked to see that.

Generally, I think the heavy use of computer animation may have left the movie's world more pliable than usual, and more prone to crossing the line from wild and thrilling to distractingly silly. It all brought to mind one of Dennis O'Neil's old Mediaview columns from Epic Illustrated (#26, Oct. 1984), wherein he reviewed the then-new Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and asserted that the Indiana Jones movies were structurally less action serials than prime silent era comedies - there's something to that, and I'd add that even in the silent era itself the line between Buster Keaton and Douglas Fairbanks was pretty thin. If we look at it that way, the sproinging tree limbs of the new Indy film puts it closer to the anything-goes edge of silent comedy, with people falling out of airplanes and leaving holes in the ground, or Snub Pollard crashing his car and careening miles across town. Snub Pollard was awesome, yes, but his thin line had Daffy Duck on the other side, if you know what I mean.

Yeah, I haven't seen Temple of Doom in the better part of a decade, but Kingdom of the Crystal Skull seemed closest to it, with the oddball horror stuff replaced by even more family-friendly laffs. Although what it really reminded me of was the 1988 Indy anime ripoff Crystal Triangle, which saw a Japanese Dr. Jones type of guy race against Soviet (and American!) forces to uncover a similarly secret sci-fi finale, with some ancient Biblical secrets and Lovecraft tossed in to boot! It was absolute bullshit, but exactly the sort of bullshit I'll happily sit through, which is more than I can say for the newest from Spielberg & Lucas.

*One good thing did come of it, though - I found a free 'abandonware' download page for the 1996 LucasArts action-RPG Windows extravaganza Indiana Jones and His Desktop Adventures. Sure, it controls a bit clunky, and you'll probably forget about it forever after playing two of its randomly-generated quests, but man... at least this one's got real nostalgia going for it with me!