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“Indiana Jones and the KOTC” blu-ray/DVD details and cover art

Paramount Home Entertainment has set a blu-ray/DVD release date for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” for October 14th this year.  Is 50 GB of blu-ray disc capacity really not enough to contain its special features, that they need to resort to 2 discs?  Damn.  Perhaps Paramount can actually afford the extra production cost from the load they made off this movie.

Suggested Retail Price: 1-Disc – $29.99, 2-Disc – $39.99, Blu-Ray – $39.99

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 1-Disc Not-As-Special Edition

• The Return of a Legend — The evolution of the new film and a tribute to the legendary hero
• Pre-Production— Follows Steven Spielberg as he creates animatic sequences, Shia LaBeouf as he learns to swordfight and captures the reunion of filmmakers and cast on the soundstage.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 2-Disc Special Edition

Disc One

• The Return of a Legend—The evolution of the new film and a tribute to the legendary hero and his creators.
• Pre-Production—Follows Steven Spielberg as he creates animatic sequences, Shia LaBeouf as he learns to swordfight and captures the reunion of filmmakers and cast on the soundstage.

Disc Two

• Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
– Shooting Begins: New Mexico
– Back To School: New Haven, Connecticut
– Welcome to the Jungle: Hilo, Hawaii
– On-Set Action
– Exploring Akator
– Wrapping Up!
• Warrior Makeup
• The Crystal Skulls
• Iconic Props
• The Effects of Indy
• Adventures in Post Production
• Closing: Team Indy
• Pre-Visualization Sequences
– Area 51 Escape
– Jungle Chase
– Ants Attack
• Galleries
• The Art Department
– The Adventure Begins
– Cemetery and Jungle
– Akator
• Stan Winston Studio
– Corpses, Skeletons & Mummies
– Aliens & Crystal Skulls
• Production Photographs
• Portraits
• Behind-the-Scenes Photographs

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Blu-ray

Disc One

• Indiana Jones Timelines
– Story Timeline: Showcases the key events of the “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” storyline.
– Production Timeline: A Making-of chronology for “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.
– Historical Timeline: Dives into the real-world historical influences
• The Return of a Legend
• Pre-Production

Disc Two

• Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
– Shooting Begins: New Mexico (HD)
– Back To School: New Haven, Connecticut (HD)
– Welcome to the Jungle: Hilo, Hawaii (HD)
– On-Set Action (HD)
– Exploring Akator (HD)
– Wrapping Up! (HD)
• Warrior Makeup (HD)
• The Crystal Skulls (HD)
• Iconic Props (HD)
• The Effects of Indy (HD)
• Adventures in Post Production (HD)
• Closing: Team Indy (HD)
• Pre-Visualization Sequences
– Area 51 Escape (HD)
– Jungle Chase (HD)
– Ants Attack (HD)
• Galleries
• The Art Department
– The Adventure Begins
– Cemetery and Jungle
– Akator
• Stan Winston Studio
– Corpses, Skeletons & Mummies
– Aliens & Crystal Skulls
• Production Photographs
• Portraits
• Behind-the-Scenes Photographs

Dear George Lucas…PLEASE STOP!

In an recent interview with Newsweek, George Lucas spoke about his thoughts on Harrison Ford and the Indiana Jones franchise.  Here’s what he had to say:

He is Indiana Jones.  If Indiana Jones wasn’t in it, you’d have to call it ‘Mutt Williams and the search for Elvis.’ … Yeah, it’s ‘Mutt Williams and the Search for Elvis.’

He also added some insight on his plans for a 5th installment, with the following:

The franchise really depends on me coming up with a good idea.  And that series is very research-intensive. So we’re doing research now to see if we can’t come up with another object for him to chase … hopefully we’ll come up with something.

Yes, he was serious and I’m going to say this straight out.  George Lucas, you are wrong!  The franchise does not “depend on you coming up with a good idea.”  That’s Spielberg’s job, or at least it’s certainly appeared that way.  Spielberg was the one who prevented you from making a vomit-inducing atrocity of sending Indiana Jones to outer space.  Please, please wake up.  Either retire or come up with something new!  No more special edition, restored, remastered, digitalized, 3D rereleased Star Wars garbage.  Please stop.

I can honestly say that George Lucas has been the only writer-director who has made me wholeheartedly embrace his franchise with open arms and in the end, hurl massive wads of spitballs at it.  I remember completely loving Star Wars as a kid, watching all 3 Special Edition theatrical releases on their opening days, eventually buying the VHS box set with the Darth Vader cover slip.  I even had a box set of that Star Wars collectible card game with the Rebel and Imperial card backings and different planet packs.  Flash forward 10 years…now I utterly loathe Star Wars and can’t stand the sight of it.  “Clone Wars” simply looks like a rehash of the CGI-garbage we got for the prequel trilogy and it’s the last movie I’ll ever seriously watch (factoring in “Gigli”).  During my visit to Comic-Con, Lucasfilm had an enormous “Clone Wars” booth which featured life-size displays of some of the characters, a wide assortment of action figures, and giant, overhead screens that played fan-films.  I did not visit that booth once.  The reason: Mr. George Lucas.

So to Mr. Lucas, please put an end to Star Wars.  I assure you, it’s better off dead at this point.  I am sick and tired of seeing fans dressed up as Jedi Knights, desperately clinging on to a franchise that has been threatening suicide since Episode 1.  They don’t deserve this.  You don’t deserve this.  Please stop.

One more thing, let Spielberg take over the next Indy film.  You will be the demise of Star Wars and I seriously do not want that to happen to the Indiana Jones franchise.  “Crystal Skull” was an apocalyptic foreshadowing of the tragic events that are to come if you do not let this franchise go.  I cannot ask for anything more.

Signed,

Disgruntled Ex-Star Wars Fanatic

What if all games were created in LEGO?

We all know that games like “LEGO Star Wars” and “LEGO Indiana Jones” have been enjoying incredible success and the upcoming “LEGO Batman” game is sure to be a hit. But not all franchises can be converted into LEGO format. Fortunately there are people out there with the time to devote to give us an idea of what some games might look like if they were created with plastic blocks rather than CGI. HERE are a few samples ranging from “Katamary Damacy” to “Metal Gear Solid”. Enjoy!

Indy’s back! But not really…

Let’s face it. It’s been 18 years since “Last Crusade” and the whole gang’s now 18 years older: Spielberg, Lucas, Ford. So now that the long-anticipated 4th installment to the franchise, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, has been released, the big question on everyone’s mind is: Does it live up to the hype? My answer is straightforward: No.

First off, let’s talk about the good points of “Crystal Skull”. The movie starts off with a bang in an action-packed thrill ride through an Area 51 warehouse in 1957 Nevada. These first 15 minutes had already proven to me that Ford’s age was certainly no hindrance to what Spielberg was able to accomplish on film. They really pulled it off and what we see action-wise is most definitely an Indy film. The death-defying stunt sequences, fiery explosions, exhilarating chase sequences are all there accompanied by the classic John Williams score.

The sets and various locations are quite impressive, as Indy ventures through Mayan temples, Amazonian rivers, and the jungle. What I was excited to see again was Barnett College where Indy teaches at and a classroom scene reminiscent of “Raiders” and “Last Crusade”. Indy’s home has been reconstructed to look somewhat similar to the earlier sets as well. I was also happy to see distinct references to museum curator Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) and Indy’s father, Henry Jones (Sean Connery).

Onto the bad points. Removing all of the action sequences, “Crystal Skull” does not look like an Indiana Jones movie, but rather “Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow” with Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Shia Laboeuf, and the rest of the cast slapped onto it. What bothered me most was that the movie looked artificial. I couldn’t help but notice this odd bleach filter effect that was added onto the film to make it look like some classic 50s detective movie, rather than the natural, vibrant colors used in the first 3 movies. I felt like the entire movie was taking place in a giant, white cloud or that I was still asleep the night before, while watching it in a muddled dream.

Although the acting is convincing, we do not see Harrison Ford behaving like Indiana Jones or Karen Allen like Marion Ravenwood. One reason for this is the dialogue, or lack thereof, in David Koepp’s screenplay. Harrison Ford’s dialogue is, at times, excessive, while Karen Allen just smiles widely into the far distance and the camera cuts. Character development is scarce in this film as we learn little to nothing about any of them or what has happened between the supposed 15-year gap from the last film.

From what I can recall, the exposition in the previous films was never so convoluted as “Crystal Skull”‘s, to the point where the audience easily becomes lost in the details. As for Karen Allen, it seems as though she’s simply having the time of her life with this one, as in the entire time. She fails to slip back into the feisty, hard-edged character of Marion Ravenwood from “Raiders”, and rather comes out acting like…well, Karen Allen. The exchanges between Ford and Allen are brief and subtle, and it appears as if they’ve lost some of the chemistry they had in the first film. I will say that Shia Laboeuf does a fair job as Mutt Williams and I didn’t really have many complaints there. However, Ray Winstone’s character of Mac is utterly pointless and unneeded throughout the entire film. He’s good. He’s bad. The exchange happens constantly and he just becomes an annoyance who never should have been included in the first place. I can’t say a whole lot about John Hurt’s Harold Oxley, or Cate Blanchett’s Irina Spalko characters because, once again, character development is scarce.

George Lucas, why? A major issue I had with this installment was the overuse of CGI. The ending comes entirely out of the blue of what’s considered an Indiana Jones movie and is primarily a special effects extravaganza used to appease child audiences with a final bang. For those of you wondering whether aliens are in this movie, the answer is yes. Let me get this out. Aliens do no belong in an Indiana Jones movie. Lucas seriously needs to get his head straight if he’s thinking of doing a 5th one because this clearly did not work. What concerned me most was that Lucas would attempt to modernize the franchise with an embellishment of special effects and CGI like what he did with the tragedy that were the Star Wars prequels. I believe Lucas also switched from film reels to the digital format, vowing never to switch back again. “Crystal Skull” proves that newer is not better, and I think Indy fans would have far more wanted to see a movie that was more down to earth and practical like the first 3 films.

The Ark of the Covenant, the Sankara Stones, the Holy Grail, and the Crystal Skull. First off, I can’t say much about the Sankara stones as “Temple of Doom” is considered even by Spielberg to be the least favorite in the franchise. However, when comparing how the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail were depicted in “Raiders” and “Last Crusade” to how the Crystal Skull was presented, I couldn’t help but notice how less amazing the skull looked than the first two artifacts. Not only does it show up halfway into the movie, but it looks like a block of ice or one of those cheap, plastic toys that roll out of a vending machine for 25 cents. I still remember the scene from “Raiders”, where Indy and Sallah raise the Ark out of its box and how glorious it looked, golden rays of light illuminating the entire room. Even the grail looked convincing as this brown, rusted metal cup that Indy plunges into the fountain and takes a drink out of. The skull, on the other hand, is just found behind a corpse (I won’t reveal any spoilers) and carried around in a bag by Huxley throughout a large portion of the movie.

One last thing to note was that “Crystal Skull” lacked any stakes that were at hand for the characters. Although it’s mentioned that the “Skull” brings ultimate power and knowledge, we never get a sense of any of the character’s motives and there’s a lack of twists. In “Raiders”, Indy was hired by the museum to retrieve the Ark before Belloq, while having to save his love interest, Marion Ravenwood. In “Temple of Doom”, Indy had to bring back the Sankara stone to a destitute village that was undergoing a famine and whose children had been kidnapped by an evil Thugee cult. And in “Last Crusade”, Indy had to find the Grail before the Nazis did, while having to rekindle his relationship with his father and save his life. What did Indy have to do in “Crystal Skull”? He had to return it to the temple it was taken from. There’s nothing really in it for him and there aren’t any stakes at all. None of the main character’s lives are ever seriously at risk, despite how unbelievable (literally) some of the scenes are (cough*waterfall*cough).

Anyways, if you’ve been dying to see this, I say just go ahead and watch it. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. But don’t expect anything like “Last Crusade”. My grade for “Crystal Skull”: B-.

Close Encounters of the Crystal Skull: Indy 4

From the entertainment desk: Save your $10.50. I had a chance to see “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in the early hours of the weekend, and I only enjoyed the early minutes of the film; specifically, the first 5 minutes. Sensing his end, Spielberg took elements of some of his highest-grossing and classic films and spliced them together to rip-off the minds and hearts of moviegoers around the world. Without revealing too much, the rest of the film, all 1 hour and fifty-five minutes of it, is a “spliff” of “Indiana Jones”, “E.T.”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “American Graffi”, and the “Ghosts of James Dean” (played disastrously by the “Transformers” golden boy turned delinquent Shia Lebouf).

Harrison Ford dropped the bar and lost the “true grit” of the original “Indiana Jones” trilogy with the apparent loss of vigor that his bare-minimum performance engineered. The basic premise is that its 20 or so years after the original trilogy, Indiana Jones is drawn into a cat-and-mouse game with the Ruskies around the world revolving an odd-looking skull and ancient and lost Mayan civilizations. Along the way, Indy must reunite with an old flame, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen from “Raiders”), team up with a new “Short-Round”, rescue a fellow archaeologist made insane by the skull, and battle an evil, but quirky Red scientist played by a post-partum Cate Blanchett. However, this all-star cast is only half of the film, literally; Indy 4 is yet another in a long line of CGI spectacles replacing the classic Visual FX in the first 3 films. It was watching the travesty that is Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong all over again.

Additionally, it is thrown in the audience’s face that Ford cannot do all his own stunts anymore with his gray hair. Scenes showing his face are often scenes where he performs the stunts, but most of the scenes show Indy without his face and, as a result, without Ford. The action, including a fencing duel while standing on two parallel jeeps and three long falls off of three waterfalls, makes Indy 4 the “kiddie” version of the Indiana Jones trilogy. Technically, the lighting and photography were the best parts of the film. Spielberg manipulated the lighting in a fashion that made the movie seem like an old “black-and-white” but in color. In the end, do not hold to the reviews in major publications such as Time, Newsweek, N.Y. Times, etc. praise of the film, reject their presumptions that it is “magnificent”, and don’t waste your time seeing this film. In fact, it is so bad that reading this review informing the readers of this gaudy monstrosity is itself a waste of time.

New “Indy” pics released

4 new, hi-res production stills of “Indy Jones and the KCS” have been released. Take a gander…

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” hits theaters May 22nd.

New pictures from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” released

4 images from Indy J and the KCS (that saved me a whole 15 seconds) have been released from an unknown source. Oh yeah, you slap that biatch, Shia!