Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hypocrites All

I don't know if anyone checks the link section despite the number of times I've asked people to, but you'll notice a link to a video site I've labeled as "The Nostalgia Critic."

The Nostalgia Critic character is caustic and obnoxious, but he is (with a handful of exceptions) fair with the points of his criticism. He's given negative reviews to many movies that I love, but out of the dozens of such films I only found he was unfair with two or three. The flaws are there and the jokes make sense. I still love the movies themselves, but I have something new to laugh at.

This week's review was of "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." I thought he was going to rip the Lucas hypocrites a new one, and he started to. However, very quickly he started to go back on himself to appease the hateboys.

First, a quick summary.

Like Episodes I-III (and in all probability because of them), "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" has been mercilessly bashed for "flaws" that were in full force in the other three films. Except "Skull" had alien technology instead of magic (oh noes!).

I don't consider myself an Indiana Jones fanatic by any stretch, but I do enjoy the movies. I think Raiders and Crusade are the best and Skull, though I've only been able to see it once, is very much a close third. The one I'm not very fond of is "Temple of Doom."

Let me make a few things very clear. First off, Temple of Doom legit scared me as a kid and I still get uncomfortable at much of the Thuggie Cult scenes (especially with the tearing out of the hearts and whatnot). Second, I would not go so far as to say I "hate" ToD, as I do appreciate the Lucasness and the Spielbergness of it, and it is an Indiana Jones movie for all intents and purposes. However, I don't get quite as into it as I do the other three and I usually do skip it when I feel like an Indy marathon. Indy himself does have a little bit more out-of-character moments, but then again I'm not the screenwriters so I'm sure it makes sense on some level.

But, much like IV-VI, Temple of Doom is placed on a high pedestal and Crystal Skull is knocked down in the dirt. In his review, NC start calling people out on this. I was elated to have them put in their place.

Then it all started going downhill.

It began when Short Round entered the picture. NC commented on how he was an annoying racist stereotype and proceeded to perpetuate the Great Jar Jar Racism Lie as a throwaway gag. Shortly after, a guest cameo stated "At least he's no Jake Lloyd." Let me tell you something right now: Jake Lloyd, for all his faults, still gave a much better performance than Jonathan Ke Quan. Quan, who NC himself criticises shouts all of his lines, and yet because of this and his role in "The Goonies" was listed on VH1's Top 100 Kid Stars.

On a similar note, you're going to call Jar Jar movie-ruiningly annoying but you'll let Kate Capshaw's "Willie" off the hook (NC doesn't, thankfully, but still downs the Binks)?

At the end of the review, NC gives in and admits that for all its faults, ToD was at least memorable, and states that "It's better to have bad things and be memorable [Tod] than be average and forgettable [CS]"

You're going to call Crystal Skull "Forgettable"? I remember more of CS from one viewing several years ago than I do from ToD after multiple viewings over many years.

Even then, I'm not going to "disown" Temple. Again, it's still an Indiana Jones flick. But the whole point of NC is to get past the veil of nostalgia and really take a critical eye to movies. Like Star Wars, all the Indiana Jones movies have similar strengths and similar weaknesses. You can prefer one to another, but it's the same 30's throwback in all ten cases and either you appreciate that or you don't. If you give a pass to an older installment that you don't to the newer one, then you're being just as blind as you call everyone else.


  1. I've never minded Crystal Skull, either, but the shift in homages is a bit odd (I get what they were doing with it, but I'd disagree with the approach anyways). As for memorability, I think that's very much a subjective issue- I saw ToD before I saw CS, and I saw the latter in theatres when it came out. I haven't seen either since then, but I remember much more of ToD then I do CS. I think it just has to do with personal preference on that point.

    As for the rest of your points, it just sounds like he sees the movie in a different way then you do- he might not find Capshaw annoying, he may actually think Lloyd is a worse actor than Quan, etc. That's really his opinion, I don't think he's 'blind' for having it.

    1. It just seems like he did it to avoid backlash and because its the accepted norm, and not because he necessarily believes it himself.

      He's gone on record as saying he actually likes a lot of movies he mercilessly tears apart. And that's fine too, but the anti-Lucas stuff has gone too far for too long and the vast majority of it doesn't make any sense.

    2. Understand also, that I really don't care about subjective disagreements. I like what I like, you like what you like, whatever. Art is subjective.

      It's just that the anti-Prequel/SE/Lucas stuff is so out of proportion and it's been dominating the discussion to the point where I spent the last 13 years of my life being bullied for liking the whole Star Wars Saga, as have many people. We're just fighting back.

      It's okay if you don't like something, just don't crap all over me for enjoying it. I have some pretty negative feelings about Twilight, but I'm not going to smack it out of someone's hand or berate them for finding value in it.

    3. Yeah, I totally get that. At the same time, though, it's also just a little rude to say someone is purporting an opinion purely to appease others rather than address the fact they might actually hold that opinion themselves.

      The prequels are such an odd set of films when it comes to criticism, because it's so hard to look at them dispassionately- you're either a Lucas-Basher or a Lucas-Lover, and anyone who likes or dislikes the films get grouped into either side. It's become a virtual war- probably just because of how Star Wars has imbedded itself in our culture, I guess.

    4. Again it's the way he does it that makes me think he's just playing it safe. If I were ever lucky enough (because I am a fan and I think he does have talent) to get into a conversation with him and he can tell me it's honestly his opinion, I'd be fine with that. It might spark a friendly debate, but it wouldn't bother me as much as repeating the hateboy doctrine for the sake of it.

      Long story short, it seemed knee-jerk, and that knee-jerk has caused a knee-jerk in me. If he can sincerely say it's sincere and not just appeasement, that's a different kettle of fish and I'll probably believe him.