Well, we kind of knew this was coming. Harrison Ford recently revealed that he, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had settled on the proper MacGuffin for everyone to chase in the fifth Indiana Jones film. (Apparently, once Lucas convinced them that aliens were the right way to go in Episode IV, everyone got a lot less picky.) Not only that, but co-star Karen Allen seems to think that the movie will be coming out in 2012. So this is happening. Indiana Jones 5 is getting made, assuming Lucas manages to get a script written before one or all of the principal players die. After the fridge-nuking, magic-negating ridiculousness that was the last movie, is there any way the fifth installment can be any good? Maybe. Here are some suggestions on how to make it less of a travesty.
1. No Aliens.
While we appreciate the appropriateness of a 1950s-era Indy crossing paths with aliens, having the crystal skull, an established mystical, mythical artifact, turn out to be a blatant E.T. bone kind of flies in the face of Indy's long-standing relationship with God. Not that God and aliens can't co-exist, but we would have been happy with more mysterious origins, and not the whole "put it back on the skeleton and let E.T. phone home" shtick. Indy's survived the opening of the Ark of the Covenant, drank from the Holy Grail, and even summoned the power of the Shankara stones -- this time, let's have him going after another man-made vessel of the power of God.
2. Show Harrison Ford a Mirror.
I love Harrison Ford in "Mosquito Coast," "Frantic" and pretty much all of his movies made before 1990. But the man is getting on in years, and while we still want to see him there, maybe it's time to let Shia LaBeouf's Mutt Williams take more of a central role, so he can do more of the literal heavy lifting. Granted, Indy will never back away from a fight, but maybe Mutt can be the designated brawler more often. Sean Connery was the second star of "The Last Crusade," but he rode in the sidecar, and there's nothing wrong with that.
U.S. & World
3. Make Mutt Williams Less Terrible.
When he's not screaming and running from robots or saying "Nononononono," La Beouf is a talented young actor, as we saw in "Holes" and "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints." So stop trying to turn him into a cartoon character, George. The hair-combing is a fun tic, but please don't make him such an unapologetic greaser this time, don't have him swinging through the jungle on vines like Tarzan, and don't let him run into any monkeys who have the same haircut as him.
4. Practical Makes Perfect.
Considering how long ago the third movie was made (1989!) one of the most noticeable differences between "Last Crusade" and "Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls" were the special effects. Obviously, you can do a lot with computers nowadays, but you can't get too ambitious -- if it doesn't look totally realistic, it'll jar you right out of the scene. For instance: the vine-swinging scene would have been slightly more believable if it had been done practically, as would the ant attack. (Half of the bugs in "Temple of Doom" were real. They had a bug wrangler.) The transforming temple with the sand and everything might have had to get cut for purely budgetary reasons, but there's also nothing wrong with miniatures. Vogel's death scene in "Last Crusade" was a great use of miniatures, and if you're trying to pay homage to a Golden Age of movies, better obvious miniatures than obvious CGI.
5. Bring Back the Nazis.
Granted, the drab Russians were perfectly serviceable in the last film, and Cate Blanchett's severe psychic/dominatrix character was kind of fun, even if her accent wandered. But as "Inglourious Basterds" has shown us, there's just something about Nazis. Considering that many still believe high-ranking Nazis fled to South America after the war, it seems like an easy leap to have a secret squad of Germans continuing Hitler's quest for artifacts, especially if one of them might bring back the Reich. Not that we want that to happen, we just want to see Indy (or Mutt) shoot three Nazis at once again.
Zach would also like to see Neil Flynn come back. Neil Flynn is awesome. What do you want to see in the next Indy?
For more from Television Without Pity: