I was really hoping that it wouldn’t suck. I didn’t think it was too much to ask. Raiders of the Lost Ark is very possibly my all-time favorite movie. No matter how much everyone else seemed to hate Kate Capshaw, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was awesome and I loved it. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a little corny, I thought, but still a very good movie.
I read an interview with Lucas in Vanity Fair a few months ago in which he explained that the key to a good Indy-style movie is a good MacGuffin, “a plot device that motivates the characters or advances the story.” He said that the main reason he had waited so long to develop Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was because he felt like he hadn’t yet found a good MacGuffin.
I’m not going to give away anything about the movie because I hate when people do that. (There are no spoilers here.) But I will say that the MacGuffin in the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise was ridiculously pathetic. It was beyond cliché and weak; it was insulting.
Less than ten minutes into the film I was so disappointed that it made me ill. What bothered me the most was not that the actors — including Ford — didn’t even seem to be trying. It was that the screenwriting was so bad, there was no way any actor could have made the experience enjoyable. It was as if Lucas intentionally attempted to destroy whatever fragment of dreams my generation still had. For a long time I tried to defend the three “new” Star Wars films. Perhaps, I thought, the first three weren’t really all that good and I only loved them so much because of the time and place they appeared in my life. Maybe it was just that I had gotten old(er) and could no longer find the same joy in a movie as I did when I was a little kid. Maybe this, maybe that. For some reason I wanted to believe … I wanted to think that this monumental icon of my youth wasn’t truly shattered.
But now I can’t say that. Now I have to face the fact that Lucas has some sort of personal vendetta against his own past. It’s like he was giving a big middle finger to his own legacy. I had to force myself to not look at my watch to see how much time was left. I wanted to leave an hour into the insult, and by the time it was over and the credits started to roll, I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.
So. I will watch Raiders of the Lost Ark. I will watch the real “the first” Star Wars movie. I will still find my pulse racing when I hear John Williams‘ soundtracks. I will still want to fly the Millennium Falcon. I will still carry my paratrooper briefcase and wear my leather jacket and — in my mind, at least — use my bullwhip on idiots in the office. But I will never view this film again.
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