I was down at the New Amsterdam staring at this
Mr. Jones strikes up a conversation with this black-haired flamenco dancer
She dances while his father plays guitar
She’s suddenly beautiful
We all want something beautiful
I wish I was beautiful
So come dance this silence down through the morning
Cut Maria! Show me some of them Spanish dances
Pass me a bottle, Mr. Jones
Believe in me
Help me believe in anything
I want to be someone who believes
First, I need to tell you this: a friend of Robbye’s and mine invited us to a sneak preview of the new Indiana Jones movie yesterday.
Second, I need to assure you that there zero spoilers in this post.
Third, I need to tell you that what I am writing here should, in no uncertain terms, be construed as a review of the film.
And finally…Fourth, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I would suggest you click away to some other site, like this one (cuteoverload.com). Spend a moment in your happy place. For, regardless of my assurances, if you read on, I believe that the experience of watching the movie could be spoiled for you.
That’s the last thing I want.
Okay…is the coast clear?
‘Cause if you’re not gone by now, I’m not gonna listen to any "Bill ruined the Indy movie for me" nonsense. Got it..?
For those of you left, I’m really not going to review the movie. That’s not my place. That’s for the likes of my friend, Colin, who covers that base quite superbly already.
This commentary, I would like to be clear, is a reaction–my reaction–to watching the movie. And I think that there is a more-than-credible argument for why that is different animal. I, for one, don’t care if you watch the movie. I, for one, am not trying to sway you either way. And I have no intention of supporting my position by discussing the relative merits (or lack thereof) of the movie in any great detail.
That said…anyone still here?
For now, all you need to know is this:
Did I like the movie? No.
Was I disappointed in the movie? Sorely.
Here’s why… It had less to do with the kludging pace and lackluster energy; less to do with the absolute lack of focus, much less story; less to do with sub-par special effects and editing than it did with the absolute lack of creativity demonstrated over the course of the 2 hours and 4 minutes of my life I will never get back.
Okay…whew! I can’t believe I just said all of that. Because I gotta tell ya, being more or less a newly minted professional screenwriter, I feel like putting an opinion like that out on these Internets for the whole world to see is, like, a possible career-limiting move. Like the title of this post should, more appropriately, be How to Ruin a Screenwriting Career in 1400 Words.
I am, however, trusting the movie gods. That they are just and forgiving. And that they will, somehow, appreciate my humble words.
Because I am not here to trash the gods. I am, actually, here to honor them.
But they need to know this…
Guys! 10 years..? 10…years? And that’s the best story you could come up with? That’s the best you could do? That hackneyed, bumbling affair?
I don’t know what to say. I mean, for Pete’s sake! You’re Steven Spielberg and George Lucas! And no offense to David Koepp, either, but…crap! If I had handed in a draft that rough, it would’ve been soundly and utterly rejected. Overall, I’ve seen better and more compelling storytelling from babes stumbling around in the proverbial woods.
I don’t get it. If I was them, I don’t know if I’d be able to sleep at night.
Good, bad, or indifferent, it doesn’t matter. Paramount and Lucasfilm and the other stakeholders will all be fine in the end. Per a story in Reuters today: "Even critics underwhelmed by the latest Indiana Jones venture conceded that it would make little difference in terms of box office, which they predicted would be strong."
And therein lies the problem. Not that I begrudge Paramount and Lucasfilm and the other stakeholders making money off the movie. God, no! Quite the opposite. And I pray with all my might that I do the same someday soon. The problem is embodied in a specific word in the Reuters article: venture. Not ADventure…just plain venture.
I feel like Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas lost their connection to the innovation, emotional center, and kinetic excitement that inspired people to gladly lay their money down time after time and place them atop Mount Olympus in the first place. It seems that it’s no longer about the music. It’s no longer even about the show. It’s about the venture–ergo, the transaction.
Well, don’t worry, Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas, we’ll show up again. We’ll lay our money down again for a few more moments with Indiana Jones, even if they are ultimately disappointing and unfulfilling. We’ll do so based on past merit alone–of past movies (even though many of them, quite frankly, faired no better than this one) and, of course, of yours.
We will climb in bed with you one last time and go through the motions because of our longstanding relationship. Because of our history. We’ll know, however, that you’re really not present anymore and that the whole affair is a hollow and empty version of what was. We’ll know we’re clinging onto thin air. And because we love you, we’ll do it, even though you’ve abused our trust. Because, quite honestly, we pity you, so we just sigh and tell ourselves it’s okay if your better days are behind you. Whaddya gonna do?
In the same Reuters article quoted above, Harrison Ford asserts that he won’t read reviews for this movie because, he says, "it’s for the people who pay to get in, and whether they are getting satisfaction for their dollars spent." If that is truly your assertion, Mr. Ford (because your very active involvement in this movie from its inception would indicate the contrary), would you please do us all a favor and tap Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas on the shoulder and clue them in, too?
Alright, enough grousing. I mean, if I was Messrs. Spielberg and Lucas, I’d be ready to throttle me by now and screaming, "We get it! But what do you want us to do about it!?!"
I think I have a very simple solution: stop trusting the opinions of the people immediately surrounding you.
Let me explain… Though I am certain the people immediately around you are great and talented people, I am assuming that they are either a.) your employees, or b.) people who want to impress you. That, and you guys are Steven-fucking-Spielberg and George-fucking-Lucas! Who is going to disagree with you, regardless of how lame your ideas may be? Gentlemen, I have lived in Corporate America; I know how the dance goes. No matter how much you preach "open door" and "okay to dissent", no one’s gonna do it.
It is, by the way, not their fault, either. It’s the way things are. I gotta tell ya, if I had to stand in front of either of you and deliver a critique of your work, I would be shaking in my boots. I’m not sure I’d be up for it. In fact, I am shaking in my boots simply for posting this commentary! For the possible backlash it might have on my own career.
You have to find some other way to test your ideas because the current way is clearly not working.
My suggestion? Listen to dissenting critics because they’ve got it pegged pretty well, I think. And more important, listen to your fans–the ones who have been there with you all along. We’ll guide you through.
Because we believed in you. We trusted you. The two of you are almost entirely responsible for creating the most important–screw icons!–idols of my generation and the next. For heaven’s sake, "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" was identified as the 4th largest religion in England’s and Wales’s 2001 census, beating out Judaism and Buddhism! Me thinks that says it all.
Just so you know, we’re not going anywhere. Again…no need to worry. So fuck the venture and return to the adventure. Go back to the basics of the game. Have fun again, and let us have fun with you. Get back in touch with us…us! We miss you, and our taste and our opinion, after all, paved your way to the top of the mountain. …Right?
That’s all we ask.
Because our belief in you inspired many of us to believe in ourselves once upon a time.
And we want to believe. …Again.
We need it, in fact. Now more than ever. Please don’t let us down.