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E.C. Henry

Billy,

Sorry to hear you didn't like "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Me and my family saw last weekend and we all LOVED it. Haven't seen "The Visitor," or even heard of it for that matter, but I respect your opinion and evaluation of film, and now I am interested in seeing it when it travels north into the greater Seattle area.

I don't think your side-by-side comparision of "Indiana Jones" and "The Visitor" is a fair one. They seem SO DIFFERENT in the results they're trying to achieve. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a rollercoaster ride, it's built for in the momeent thrills. From your review, "The Visitor" sounds like one of those films trying to make a point, and based on what you said it sounds like it succeeded.

Anyway, glad to hear you're still finding films you do like. I'm finding the longer I write scripts, the more I appreciate film and what does work, and an apprecition for all involved in the process. Hopefully with your position in the industy, Univeral will kick out more thought provoking films, maybe even in the action/adventure arena. Yeah, I think m'man Mernit is up to the challenge.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Maestro

Sorry to make my first post a negative one. Rest assured, I'm a long-time fan (since you held a two-day version of your romcom class in Hawaii) who's been enjoying reading your blog for the past few months. But I do think you're being a bit hard on Mr. Spielberg. The way I heard it, it was Mr. Lucas who vetoed draft after draft of the script. So maybe Mr. S was just doing the best he could with the material he was given.

I mean, when you need to get script approval from the guy who wrote the Star Wars prequels...

Frank  Conniff

Yeah, it's too bad that Spielberg was forced to work with a weak script. Maybe one day, after he has a hit or two, he'll gain some clout and as a director working in Hollywood. Until then he'll just have to take whatever project he's lucky enough to be assigned by the powers that be. Maybe one day he can get into the front office at Dreamworks and convince his boss to give him better material.

Phil

The saddest thing is that Spielberg (allegedly) was more interested in the opening box office takings than the reviews; of course the movie will bring in the money, but do Spielberg/Lucas really value their work on that anymore rather than critical acclaim? If yes, that's a sad state of affairs, and we the audience ARE just idiots to them. Still, negative word-of-mouth will screw up long-term revenue for them.

Anna

Hi Billy, Anna from Sweden here. No question today, just wanted to say that I think your reflections on Indy 4 was excellent and absolutely on the spot. When I saw it I was wondering why they had to kill the story so effectively by putting in this much mumbo-jumbo, really overdo it with creatures from space and magic powers that weren't possible to understand at all. Why not stick to the original universe of Indy, with only ancient mystic powers? And of course, as you say, the unbelievable situations with no danger was just a big laugh. I think that very often when there's a project everyone knows will be a blockbuster, the script is kind of forgotten in the process. Fascinating that no-one ever seems to learn from earlier mistakes...
I'm going to see The Visitor ASAP!
Bye now, Anna

Christian Howell

I can only reiterate that fluff pays but substance lasts. I truly believe that people want to see real life related from another's point of view.
I know I do. But Iron Man (tentpole) is a good example of action with a little substance.
The relationships were really good. I found no cardboard cutouts.

From what I saw of The Visitor, it will touch people and make them think.
It doesn't seem preachy or demanding of change, which I love in a movie.

Rachel Hauck

I hear you about Indy 4, but what major "action" film is not filled with the ridiculous? Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible flying through the air after a car explosion and... walking away unscathed.

The big nuclear ball in Superman Two acting like a big magnet, sinking into the Hudson with the heat of the sun and not drying up all the water? What? My husband said, "Babe, they left physics behind long ago."

So, your review of Indy 4 isn't surprising. :)

I'm glad you brought The Visitor to our attention. It sounds great.

As for Sex and the City. Not going to see it. I believe their attitude and actions regarding women and sex are some of the most detrimental philosophies for today's young woman.

We live in a world with Aids, and hundreds STDs that have no cure. And safe sex is NOT fool proof or a cure all.

Not to mention the emotional trials of a hook up life.

Woman, live above the bar. It's so low, it won't take much effort. IMHO.

:)

Stephanie

Thank you for so well articulating Indy 4's problems that have been nagging me for the last week.

In the department of missed emotional opportunities, I was extremely disappointed with the writing choices they made surrounding the introduction of the son. By insisting that Indy continue to be the focus of the story's B-line romantic interlude, they weakened his character in a way that was almost unbelievable (Indy's carrying a torch for someone for twenty years without acting on it? Come on) and, as you mentioned, destroying Marion's spunk.

The emotional theme of father and son has already been explored in the Indy series, and extremely well if you ask me. Why repeat it? Why not do something *gasp* shocking, and write Indy as having a fearless, ahead of her time daughter. And why not shift the romantic focus to the daughter, allowing Indy some room to actually grow as a character, instead of being arbitrarily changed by the writers.

Gah! You still articulated it better, but hopefully I'm getting my main point across. I couldn't agree with you more.

Judith Duncan

Hey Billy,I'm with you in regards to Spielberg and Lucas,it's become shameful.
Cheers,
Judith

binnie

How about the made-from-metal Jeeps not being attracted to the magnetic object in the crate??
And after all these years all Karen Allen gets to do is DRIVE??? No small feat, but please!
SATC is wonderfully satisfying, btw, and I had my own defining SATC moment, when I was walking home from my mother's apartment in Chelsea to my place in the Village. My ex's Mini pulled up next to me while I was crossing West 21st Street, and driving it was my ex's child-bride, yelling, "EMILY, HI!!! I'M MEETING SOME FRIENDS TO SEE SEX AND THE CITY! CAN I DROP YOU OFF SOMEWHERE?!"
Can't make this shit up.
Looking forward to checking out The Visitor.

Heath Davis Havlick

Well said! I left Indy 4 thinking, "Really? You've got to be kidding!" I did feel kinda sad for all the folks involved, but after reading your post I just feel insulted by them. The whole sword foolishness, the lack of mind powers, Indy flying through the air in a fridge to escape a nuclear blast? Come on! I can write better than that. And have. And will continue to.
Love your first book, BTW, and so I was glad to find this blog. Keep telling it like it is!

Tammie

Well, I wasn't blown away by Indy either as I sat in a packed theater with my family.

I wondered if the long down time built up too much expectation, but then I thought no, it's Indy, it had better be good!

Being told in EXTRA like interviews that they were always looking for the right script, I'm chalking the lack luster to having too many cooks in the Kitchen spoiling it. If they tweaked it over and over they basically did away with the meat.

I can overlook the impossible in action flicks IF there is depth in other places but like you said, they basically blew the relationship between Indy and his past girl. I think at one point there were 5 or more scenes where she didn't say a word???? How does that happen?

Laura Reyna

I haven't seen the movie yet but I'v read a bunch of reviews.

Sounds to me like Spielberg and Co succumbed to the "have to please the 13 yr olds - itis". They ramped up the FX to get the younsters in the seats, and forgot to make movie, y'know, good.

Bigger, more spectacle, more CGI FX... more STUFF... this is what filmmakers think the audience wants and this is what we get. This dumbing down of movies is a fundemental mistake that's been going for some time now. This is just another example.

mernitman

EC: Yes, of course Indy 4 is a "roller coaster ride," but its makers are idolized and canonized as being among the greatest filmmakers in film history. So if their roller coaster cars are rickety and full of holes, I think they're fair game.

Maestro: As Callie Khouri once said, when needled about "Thelma & Louise" being too hard on men, "I'm not anti-male. I'm anti-idiot."

Spielberg has made some great, substantive movies in a long and hardy career. Vis-a-vis his responsibilities here, I think Frank's comment says it best.

Frank: I know! Didn't we win ANYTHING in the Writers' Strike?!!!

Phil: Having suffered slings and arrows from outrageous critics myself, I can kind of understand that particular kind of artist's bunker mentality. But yes, it would be nice if they paid attention to the audience's response (as measured in under-expectation ticket sales).

Anna: Yes, this sort of filmmaking is a triumph of craft over consciousness. Meanwhile, I look forward to your reactions to "The Visitor."

Christian: I'm hearing much the same from other folks re: "Iron Man," and as a longtime Downey fan, I'm good to go.

Rachel: You're right about the action genre in general. But I think the galling thing about Indy 4 is that it broke the rules of the original Indy and the franchise itself.

Stephanie: The idea of an Indy daughter is way cool -- would've tweaked the movie in a marvelous way...

Judith: I'm still missing the hours of my life lost, seeing the last two Star Wars debacles.

Binnie: It's high time you wrote "Sex and the Village."

Thank you, Heath Davis: I'll bet you can write a movie that has an actual ending, too.

Tammie: What's sad is that Karen Allen was so touched and thrilled to be asked back... and all she was left with was the disembodied wheel of a jeep.

Laura: So true. This is why I used my cranky rant as a platform to promote, y'know, a movie that was about Other Stuff entirely.

Chera Federle

Great post. I am eager to see The Visitor. Unfortunately, I live in BFE … and it’s not showing anywhere within a 50 mile radius … I’ll have to wait until I can get it through Netflix.

My husband took me to see Indy 4 for my 40th birthday, and I have to agree with you ... too many far-fetched contrivances and too many loaded guns (that didn’t go off/or shot blanks). My biggest OMG moment was Mutt swinging through the trees with the band of monkeys … despite all of that, I found it very entertaining in a nostalgic kind of way. Our small town theatre was packed full … and I heard a lot of “Dude, that was awesome” and “Cool!” and like remarks from teens, and a lot of laughter on the adult end.

I hope you enjoy Sex In The City … my friend thought it would be fun if all us girls got together to see it. We didn’t think to purchase tickets in advance around here, but every theatre (in a 50 mile radius) was sold out. We're heading out to see it this weekend, keep in mind, out of the 5 of us, only one has been a loyal fan of the HBO series, and it’s not me. I have seen a few episodes and looking forward to what the movie has to offer.

On another note, I just finished reading Writing the Romantic Comedy … it was very helpful in jump-starting my current WIP. It was absolutely a fun read.

Chera

binnie

I would, Billy, but I'd have to name names!

MaryAn

Wait. E.C., why didn't you jump Billy for saying it had a fundamental narrative error? He, too, believes there ought to be a story.

E.C. Henry

I NEVER jump ANYTHING Billy has to say about ANYTHING, you are GREATLY mistaken, MaryAn. I respect Billy's opinion emensely. I simply voice my own humble opinion in hopes of seeing how it stacks up to a pro with YEARS of experience in the industry.

I think this comment of yours Maryan stems from one of my responces from your blog. IF you have a problem with me, you have my e-mail address, and a forum of your own to voice your opinions. You shouldn't burden Billy with this.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

MaryAn

It was a lighthearted elbow jab, E.C., nothing more. Sorry you missed that.

mernitman

...and -- scene! Let's leave it there, EC and MaryAnn, shall we? Peace out. Meanwhile:

Chera: Thank you for reminding me about the Shia-as-Tarzan episode, speaking of howlers. Hope you enjoy "Sex," given the build-up -- and glad you found the book useful.

Binnie: Oh, go ahead. We're at the age where we can use the stimulation.

Joanna Farnsworth

What were they thinking? Seems to me they weren't. It looks like everyone on Indy 4 forgot that the real Indy Jones was an archaeology professor aka ARMCHAIR adventurer. He beat the bad guys and won the prize using brains, not brawn. We cheer for Indy not because he walks away from atom bomb blasts unscathed, but because he has the brains to know where to walk in that blast so he won't get hit. But the real Indy wouldn't be in an atom bomb blast anyway, he'd be on an archaeological dig. Come on guys, give us back the real Indy. Just coz he's older, doesn't mean he's brain dead.

Carlo Conda

Agreed. Adding the moo-ness of a normal action protag to Indy was a big mistake.

Also, some of the dialogue was... shit.
When Misses Marx touches him on the face while saying "you're a tough one to read, doctor Jones" and Indy sarcastically say "ow, heh", me and my father, and Indy fan, looked at each other and laughed (AT the movie). We were really embarrassed we were watching the movie at that point.

Carlo Conda

my father, AN Indy fan*, not AND Indy fan. heh
There was no fourth character in the mix there. Just me, my dad, and the bruised child of abusive and careless parents George Lucas and Steven Spielberg (and sperm donor Koepp).

Dixon Steele

I was kinda OK with Indy 4, until the end.

But, Billy, "under-expectation" ticket sales?

It's done about 3/4 of a billion dolars, so far, worldwide.

Like it or not, the public has spoken.

mernitman

Joanna: This Indy was a "professor" the way Angelina Jolie might be if you put her in horn-rims.

Carlo: The supposed best minds in entertainment making us feel embarrassed to watch their latest work -- kind of a bellweather moment for popular culture, eh?

Dixon: This post was written just after Indy's opening weekend, and hence that comment, specifically addressed to what the industry termed "under-performing" re: what original domestic opening weekend expectations had been.

But yes, of course the movie has done amazingly well since then... except "the public has spoken" doesn't feel like an apt phrase to me, in this regard. "The Public" dutifully showed up at the theaters to see the latest installment in a beloved franchise; it was a "I do have to go see this" movie. In terms of fans' reactions and that of many moviegoers, disappointment has been rampant and vocal.

People had to plunk their dollars down in order to end up disappointed. So the mere spending of that money doesn't, in my humble opinion, mean that "The Public" was entirely satisfied with the movie shown and seen.

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