one of my most favorite moments on the television program South Park comes in episode 609, “Free Hat,” when the children, despite the lack of the excellent Butters, attempt to stop George Lucas (though not Steven Spielberg, as he’s the more evil of the two in this episode) from messing with Raiders of the Lost Ark with a song, during which they change into sassy outfits for a musical numbers and then have a fight over whether they were going to melt his icy heart with a warm island song, or cool his hot heart with a cool island song. this always cracks me up (even without Butters), but it also reminds me that it’s been a little while since it became perfectly clear that, having lost their minds, George Lucas and, to a lesser extent, Steven Spielberg decided that the best thing they could with their time was NOT to direct or produce more enjoyable films, NOT to create their own studios and NOT to break technological ground in film making, but rather, to dig up the beloved corpses of my childhood memories and urinate into the eyes and mouths of said memories. well, in a proverbial way, of course; i have little to no evidence that Spielberg has LITERALLY used his excrement to defile corpses. George Lucas, on the other hand…
ANYWAY, i recently had the dubious “pleasure” of seeing the new film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth installment in the Indiana Jones series and what i can only assume was Lucas’ best effort to drag Spielberg into the dark realm of getting their filthy hands on my childhood … but that being said, it’s not like Spielberg himself hadn’t done so on his own. let’s examine my film-related misery, shall we?
ps. no one tell Roger Waters that i am making a reference to a song of his with the title there; people tell me he’s one of those surly British types (which are much less preferable than the friendly type of Brit personified by that chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins), and i don’t want to get sued.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (released in 1982; updated in 2002)
Spielberg and associates discuss the logistics of their prospective gangbanging of the beloved memory of E.T.
intent: to improve E.T. on its 20th anniversary, scenes with imperfect animatronics were to be fixed up with CGI (such as a shot of E.T. running at the opening of the film) and scenes shot but not included in the original film would be added. sounds pretty harmless, no?
execution: as far as improving the effects and adding those scenes, a success; Spielberg even declined to add some shot but not-included scenes for fear of reshaping the film too much, a solid notion. but in addition to the above, Spielberg made the infamous move of removing guns from the hands of FBI agent who sort of seem to kind of threaten Elliott and his friends and replacing them with walkie-talkies. apparently, he was more sensitive to this kind of thing because he had become a father in those 20 years … an explanation that continues to make no sense. i mean, let’s think about this: is it really unreasonable for FBI agents – who are commonly known to carry firearms for the purpose of handling unforeseen threats – to have guns when confronted with a mysterious alien incident they know nothing about? i admit that it’s been some time since i have seen E.T., and that i didn’t actually like it very much beyond the fact that it scared my sister when she was little (green sick E.T. freaked her out completely), but i don’t recall these agents screaming “WE’RE GOING TO BLOW YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF, LITTLE BOY, FOR NO REASON OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THE THRILL OF SHOOTING YOU WOULD GIVE US SEXUAL PLEASURE” or anything like that. am i wrong? and let’s go deeper: if you’re going to make a point about how the gun-toting adults don’t understand the message of love and peace brought to earth by a lovable alien, doesn’t removing their guns dampen that effect?
still, this maneuver gave us the sweet South Park episode i have mentioned, and the feedback seemed to be extreme enough to shame Spielberg and force him into recognizing the editing decision’s unpopularity by including both versions on the related 20th anniversary DVD (which is a solid move, even if you think he’s a prick and you want to free Hat, who only murdered those babies in self-defense). but then Lucas struck…
Star Wars Episodes I-III: the Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith (released 1999, 2002 and 2005, respectively)
the flowing hair means he’s a SERIOUS, DRAMATIC CHARACTER
intent: TO MAKE A DOLLAR AND A CENT IN THIS BUSINESS. no, but seriously, to release in film form the material that preceded Star Wars Episodes IV-VI, which had apparently always been waiting for the “first” films to make them whole..
execution: …by adding garbage. seriously, i don’t know a single fan of the original trilogy that doesn’t feel it was damaged to SOME extent by the addition of episodes I-III. and the notion that this current generation of children will be able to watch the series in chronological order and appreciate it all as a full, rich story seems to be entirely based on the hope that all children are RETARDED. and hey, maybe most of them are, but i have to think that i myself at age 5 would have pitched a fucking fit over Jar-Jar Binks and Hayden Christensen’s inability to act and all those problems of logic (how can C-3PO know everyone but not remember them when he’s a robot? where did R2D2’s jets go?). maybe i’m just too serious of a proverbial child. but anyway, you’d think Lucas would have learned from the success of the original series that he didn’t need EXTREME CGI to sell a film (he didn’t), and that he should get help polishing his scripts (he didn’t, and no, i don’t consider Johnathan Hales helping on one of three scripts to be real help) and directing his visions (he didn’t). also, i would have thought that Return of the Jedi would have taught him that Ewoks suck it hardcore and you shouldn’t fill a movie with aliens that you think will help sell toys, but then again, Jedi made a shitload of cash, so maybe i’m alone on this one. i can go on and on about the specifics in each film that suck, but it’s been done, so i’ll just say this: i thought the Phantom Menace sucked, but then Attack of the Clones made me realize it could have been worse. and when i thought Attack of the Clones sucked, Revenge of the Sith made me realize it could have been worse. “I HAVE THE HIGH GROUND!” christ almighty, the thought of that film alone makes me want someone to R2-45 me and exteriorize my thetan. i mean, do you know how sick a film has to make me to get me talking like my arch-nemesis L. Ron Hubbard? ugh.
ANYWAY, Lucas apparently refers to all these films as “a long poem that rhymes.” i can thus conclude that Lucas himself is retarded, which explains why he thought all this nonsense was a good idea. and that explains…
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (released in 2008)
a well-aged Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones striking a blow against making movies that don’t make me vomit
intent: TO MAKE- no, i already did that joke. well, then, to continue the zany but sort-of-realistic adventures of Indiana Jones.
execution: i really wanted to like this film; after all, i’ve long said this film could have been done, and done well, with Ford in the Connery-in-Last Crusade type of role, and someone (please let it be Short Round) having taken HIS place as the younger, adventurous professor of anthropology. and the original trilogy, for all my sass talk about the Last Crusade (easily my least favorite of those films, though i admit i have such a soft spot for Temple of Doom), is a great trilogy of fun films. they’re not ART, you know, but they’re FUN. they’re like a more fantastic version of Die Hard to me: yeah, there’s always something ridiculous going on (terrorists take over Nakatomi Plaza, an Indian village has magical stones), but the universes are consistent and the heroes not so unrealistic. so despite some misgivings, i tried to have positive vibes here. and what happened? well, for everything that was done right, they turned around and did some dumb shit. for example, made the USSR the new evil villainous nation (good)… and then made their leader be a rapier-wielding, psychic-loving idiot (bad). and i’ve said it many times before, but here’s the deal: i don’t care if you tell me that a woman is a hero or a villain, if she weighs 110 pounds, i don’t believe she’s beating the shit out of everyone in creation. it’s not happening. hey, i even refuse to believe that 141-pound Gina Carano can beat ME up, and i KNOW that i’m made of feathers and wind, so what can i say? or, another example: they call back the original film with Karen Allen playing Marion Ravenwood (good)… and then have her either be a comic foil (meh, but not bad) or having her be smarmy and do retarded stunts with a miniature duck-type vehicle (bad). so, okay, fine, i don’t like the film, but does it rape my childhood? well, yes, in the way that Live Free Or Die Hard ruined that series: by taking a series with a generally realistic hero in a consistent universe and undoing both of those things. if you’ve seen the film, me saying “that nuclear blast sequence was retardedly unrealistic AND could have been removed without losing anything” and “the skull’s magnetism was completely inconsistent” will both make sense. if not… eh, i’m not really recommending this film.
about the best thing i can say here is that they DID run with the solid formula of Ford-as-Connery, LaBeouf-as-Ford, but the execution of this formula… well, it ain’t good. oh, and apparently it makes Russians currently freak out because the film is supposedly insulting to Russia, so that’s funny as well.
fuck you, Lucas, and fuck you, Spielberg, for ruining my films. it’s not like the former couldn’t just stick to his CGI games and latter to making competent films and leave me alone with my childhood dreams. sorry if that sounds bitter, but don’t you guys recall that Raiders of the Lost Ark post? insert my melancholy sigh right here.