Friday, April 6, 2018

Indiana Jones and the Oh Hell No, Not Again.

Busy day today beloved readers.  The best I can do for you is repost from last year wherein I prove my miraculous psychic powers of prediction, in the last sentence.


Yeah because who didn't want more of this

There is yet another Indiana Jones movie coming down the pipe.  It will be arriving in theaters in time for Harrison Fords seventy eighth birthday.


Okay the big question here is why the fuck are they making this thing?

I think the answer is pride.

When Disney bought up Lucasfilm they inherited the Indiana Jones franchise as part of the deal.  They were at that time about as interested in making another Indiana Jones movie as they were a sequel to Red Tails.

Understandably so.  It is a property that is intrinsically tied to one actor who is just too damn old to play action roles anymore.  The attitude was, well maybe in a few year we'll think about it.  I.E. when Harrison Ford is dead, then its probably time.

However after a couple of years of mulling it over they decided for the usual reasons that they couldn't let a property from before the age of Blurring Effect, just sit on the shelf.

Did you know that 94% of all new movies last year were franchise releases of some kind or another?  I didn't make that statistic up. Almost everything now is a sequel, a reboot or came from another title (Comics, YA lit and so on)

Because of Netflix, Hulu, youtube, Crackle,  a billion cable channels and on and on, there has now been a Blurring Effect in pop culture entertainment.  When Ghostbusters came out you could hype the hell out a new property and buy back your percentage through heavy marketing.  One well placed TV ad could reach tens of millions.  You could spend your way to cultural impact.  That sure as hell ain't happening anymore.  It just isn't possible to reach that big of an audience.

Movies are a business and in a business you need to minimize risk.  The surest way to do that is to pick a property that is immune to the Blurring Effect.  You pick something that already has a cultural impact.

Anything made before 1995 that was popular fits the bill.

I think what changed their minds was that Disney suddenly found they had the perfect actor available in the form of Chris Pratt.  He was just the right age to play young Indy.  He had the square jawed good looks.  He could fill theater seats.  He has an office at Disney-Marvel, so the relationship is already in place.  Hell, Pratt is even an American.  That doesn't happen much anymore.  Well, there are leads who are American but they are almost all former child actors and it shows. Normally producers have to go to Europe when they cast rugged adventurers anymore.  So that was nice too.  Everything looked liked a go.  The project was green lit and Pratt was onboard.

Then Spielberg said he would love to direct Chris Pratt in the new Indiana Jones movie.  And Disney's reaction was clearly an embarrassed, " for offering Steve.  Really!  And we are honored...really honored that you even thought to tell us you were interested.  We will definitely, definitely keep your resume on file ." 

There was a reason for this.

Meet the last Indiana Jones Movie.

Mister Plinkett covers all the reasons this one was such a disappointment.

But here are the big ones.

1.  Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are too old to make action movies.

2. There is no real need for a number two.  Number one pretty much covers everything that was wrong with Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull Thing.  The refrigerator and the monkey vines were bad but you could have over looked them if the rest of the film was good enough.  Which it wasn't.

Indiana Jones is a wish fulfillment character, like James Bond or Superman.  The appeal of the character is that you want to be Indiana Jones.  No one wants to be Indiana Jones with a bad hip.  To be more exact, nobody dreams about being old Indy.

That's the problem with Ford.  Now on to the guys behind the camera.

Spielberg has lost his teeth as an action director. The Indiana Jones movies were (for their day) extremely  violent and gory.  In Raiders, there was a freaking impalement in the first five minutes.  A guy gets his palm branded not long after that.  Blood got splattered all over a bar and all over a plane's tail fin. And to top it off a bunch Nazis got their faces melted off.  Temple of Doom was even worse. Because of the heart ripping scene, the MPAA actually invented a new rating (PG-13) because of that movie.  Indy killed a lot of people in exceptionally bloody ways over the course of the first three films.  But in the last one, there was only one death attributable to Indy, he killed a single native with his own blowgun and that was it (assuming the native died). No blood splattered anywhere  The Indiana Jones edge was completely blunted in KOTCS.

Also it has been a while since Spielberg  has made a movie that really blew the doors off at the box office.  Yes, a decade ago Indiana Jones and the Skull Thing made 800 large worldwide*  but before that you have to go to 1997 to find a traditional summer blockbuster that he skippered.  War of the Worlds did okay but under-performed for what they spent on it.  Spielberg has been on an Oscar track for nearly twenty years.  His days being the king of the popcorn burners is long over.

George George Lucas.  Whatever he brought to the party, died after Reagan took office.  He was also pretty hurt by Disney because as far as I can tell they didn't consult him at all when they made the The Force Awakens. 

Harrison Ford was mad because he is old.  He wasn't moving tickets and the phone had stopped ringing, (at least for leading roles).  And they weren't even talking about using him for an old Indy cameo.

So, you have three Hollywood old timers who find out they have been completely sidelined for a remake of their signature work and there was a time when they were the gods of the industry.   Which really hurt the old pride.

But Hollywood is a business and backing another Indiana Jones movie with these three guys in it would be terrible for business.  As I said Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made 800 million worldwide in 2008.  However given rabid fan interest, it should have pulled down 1.5 billion but word of mouth killed it.

And then a Hollywood miracle happened.

Well, not much of a miracle really.  Star Wars happened.  Suddenly Harrison Ford is headling in a film that has grossed 2 billion.  More importantly there is fourth person involved here.  Kathleen Kennedy who has long been Spielberg's line producer and is now in charge of everything Lucasfilm at Disney.

With Kennedy and Ford ramrodding the project there was enough momentum generated to get a green light.*

The problem now is, what are they going to do with the property?  It will have to be set in the late sixties or early seventies.  Ford really can't do the action stuff at this point.  So someone will have to do most of that for him.   And at this point we all know what that means.  It's going to be kickass grrl.
Feminist Indiana Jones is coming.

*And kill the Chris Pratt version.  Don't cry for Chris, Indy fans he missed a bullet here. Kathleen Kennedy would have been producing.  That guarantees that it would have been a feminist dumpster fire regardless. 


Wynn Lloyd said...

These franchises are a sign of cultural decline. PC limits on subject matter, blurring effect, etc. may be sustainable now, but it can't last forever.

Maybe it's generational. Kind of like when a retiree trains his young Paki slave as his replacement, but not his own son. The vanity and narcissism is too deep for such a man to accept giving up his place in the war party to someone who will replace him in an effective way. Maybe somebody like Lucas deep down likes the ruin. Maybe it serves his ego, that everything was good when he was in charge. If a new up and coming director made a brilliant SW film, he might actually signal against it.

Cataline Sergius said...

These franchises are a sign of cultural decline. PC limits on subject matter, blurring effect, etc. may be sustainable now, but it can't last forever.

You have taken me a step beyond.

You are quite correct. I just hadn't looked that far ahead.

The Blurring Effect comes fully equipped with a built in audience, marketing campaign and...shelf life.

It's Gen-X and above that are driving the Blurring Effect. Millennials are barely aware of it and Gen Zardoz isn't effected by it at all.

Looking it over there isn't going to be much to work with in twenty years time. Harry Potter and Iron Man are about it and Robert Downey is going to be dead by then.

Mr. Bee said...

I re-watched Disney's horrific (but original) "Tomorrowland" for shits and giggles. If you haven't seen it, I recommend Bill Whittle's review as both educational and amusing:

When the obvious happened and it bombed, Disney blamed it on the public's refusal to watch anything new and original. This got me to thinking - if they truly thought "Tomorrowland" was good, then they must be utterly out of touch with their customer base. They must actually believe in their heart of hearts all the PC bulge they spew in interviews. Ergo, they HAVE to repeat past successes because they have so little in common with their customer base that they have absolutely no hope of producing something original that a majority of people will buy tickets for. This effect is now beginning to effect even their remakes as Last Jedi indicates.

Wynn Lloyd said...

Hopefully at that point the next generation can create some new stories. They will need the freedom to do so.

cbashcraft said...

You Know,

I could've forgiven Last Jedi a lot if they had not screwed up Luke (continued heroic traditional narrative) and given us the Battle of Jutland in space. That would've been interesting, visual, and something new. Imagine each fleet making move and countermove over the course of the film. Several mini victories sprinkled through out the pursuit. You could have even woven in the tracking mcguffin, which was not new, the original had the Falcon tracked to the Rebel base in Ep. IV. The desperate search for a spy within the rebel fleet and battle and then Rey and Luke pulling off the save or revelation of who that spy was at the end allowing the crippled Rebel fleet to escape.

That at least would have been interesting. Instead, we got a space battle with no battle, no climatic payoff, twice the mary sue pointless adventure, and no heroic narrative.

Everyone in my theater left bored and dead eyed upon seeing the Last Jedi.


Chris Lutz said...

I remember when The Last Crusade came out and Ford said he was done with the series because he was reaching the point he couldn't do the stunts.

I like your point that it doesn't work when you don't want to be the hero. I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. And you knew Spielberg was done when he retconned the Feds in ET so they wouldn't have guns.