The latest update on the state of a fifth Indiana Jones movie suggests that the story for the film is now in place, and the process of banging it all into a screenplay is underway. This, inevitably, led to one of our wishlists: on the off-chance that those putting together the next Indiana Jones adventure are reading, is there any chance of just considering these five small suggestions?
There are, inevitably, spoilers here if you've not had the pleasure of Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull yet...
I've nothing personally against Shia LaBeouf, nor do I subscribe to some of the less complementary things written about him. As an actor, I thought he held the screen well in the central role in Disturbia, and while he's hardly a Robert De Niro in waiting, he's a perfectly fine blockbuster movie leading man.
And, if I was him, I'd have snapped up any role offered in a fifth Indiana Jones film without even reading the script. The problem is, that does seem to be what happened. It was the most disconcerting sight of the movie - worse even than the son of Superman subplot unsubtly bubbling up in Superman Returns - to see him pop the infamous hat on his head at the end of Crystal Skull, and the mere thought of him picking up some kind of Indy Jr franchise is not a happy one. Here's hoping that Shia's role is curtailed for Indy 5, which given that a further Transformers film is on the way too, might yet happen.
2. Work out who's in charge
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are both very rich and very creative people, who in different ways are at the top of their game. I'm pleased for them, and you can't deny that they've gambled, innovated and earned their place at the top of the tree.
They're both also financially independent, and don't have to take crap from anyone in the business. With Crystal Skull, you can't help but think that was part of the problem. In the olden days on the Indiana Jones movie, there was a clearer distinction - at least this is how it appears from here - between who was in charge, and who had ultimate final say. Crystal Skull, though, was a mishmash of the pair's differing approach to things. One minute, you had an old fashioned action movie, the next a dollop of effects out of nowhere. And it seemed to dull the talents of them both: neither was anywhere near the top of their game with Crystal Skull.
Hierarchy on a movie project, we'd wager, is a good thing. And Indiana Jones is crying out for a single boss, rather than a committee...
3. An ending worthy of the name
I'm struggling hard to come up with a blockbuster ending that's been anywhere near as poor as the bizarre conclusion to Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Never mind the carnival of special effects that seized control once the film entered its final act (and, inevitably, we're coming to them later), the key problem was that the alien finale simply wasn't good at all. From the moment Indy and his followers enter the chamber, Crystal Skull is a dead film.
The series has always, to an extent, been built on some degree of 'fantasy' elements (the walkway in Last Crusade, the ark in Raiders), but it's been deep-rooted in the spirit of the early adventure films, and that's what was thrown out of the window with an ending that a) made little sense, b) offered little entertainment and c) was, if we're cutting to the chase, just plain terrible. Contrast it to the ending of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, or the saving of Sean Connery in Last Crusade, and it's barely fit to grace a straight to DVD sci-fi wreck, yet alone an Indiana Jones film.
Gents? You've had your fun. Can we have our proper endings back now, please?
4. Common sense
I'm all for a bit of escapist fun in the movies, but I'm not utterly stupid. My scientific qualifications are fairly weak, but I could comfortably predict that, were I sat in a fridge when a nuclear blast went off, I would not survive. I'm going to go out even further on a limb here, and suggest that even if said fridge wasn't instantly taken out by the blast that had managed to completely level everything else, I wouldn't walk out of it were it instead flung a great distance. Fridges are not superhero protective armour. They are fridges. I find them perfectly fine for keeping things cold, but that's pretty much it from where I'm sitting.
By all means be creative, and by all means have fun with the narrative. But please: don't rely on something so ridiculously dumb that it flies in the face of simple human common sense.
5. Put the computers away
The biggest plea of all. If I could get just one wish off this list, this would be it (although the knock on effect, of course, would be that the ending options would be altered). I recall much being made - and it may be my memory playing tricks on me - of the fact that with Indiana Jones films the action is primarily in the view of the camera's lens, and thus special effects were supposedly firmly off the agenda for Indy 4. Hmmm.
Granted, special effects were present and correct in the earlier films, but they were tightly woven, and for the most part hardly overt. But from the opening shot of Crystal Skull, through to the influx of bugs, the simply embarrassing snake sequence and the aforementioned denouement, this is a movie that feels like it was overtaken by effects from the off.
George, Steven: please. Leave special effects to Michael Bay. He likes them. Sometimes he slows them down enough these days so we can even watch them. Instead, can you not trust yourselves to make an old-fashioned action movie - the original thinking behind Raiders, after all - without the need to boot up your Apple Macs?