Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

Midnight. The courtyard of Hollywood's ArcLight Cinemas is filled with people—a large percentage of them in brown fedoras. We're searching for the sign that says "private party," and someone finally spots it in the upstairs bar area.

My friend Suzanne has worked her magic to get us invited to a private screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls at 12:45 AM on Thursday, May 22nd. Not that we're at an advantage, every one of the ArcLight's 14 screens are playing INDY 4. They'll keep playing it all night long to meet the demand of generations of movie fans who want to be "the first" in their social circle to see Harrison Ford* resume one of the roles that made him famous.

Our difficulty in locating where we pick up our tickets is just another bump in the road. Suzanne ended up being unable to attend the screening, and after our group does finally get to cinema 11, we learn that it isn't a private screening. It's a semi-private screening. Nor do any of us win the raffle.

But the lights dim, the crowd applauds**... and a trailer for The Dark Knight begins. Suddenly, it's all going to be fine. The crowd cheers for (the departed) Heath Ledger, the batmobile, and Christian Bale. Usually this kind of enthusiasm is only seen in the Grauman's Chinese Theatre at Hollywood & Highland. Even then, not before the feature presentation and not after the opening credits.

But this is Indiana Jones, and Spielberg can weave a magic all his own over the audience. More applause—for the retro Paramount screen, the title credits, and the first glimpse of Dr. Henry Jones Jr. Laughter follows, cheers for when he delivers a punch and the first crack of the bull-whip. Because this is more than just a movie—it's a return to childhood. To when we still believed that archelogists spent their time in the field having adventures in the undiscovered places.

Is the screenplay brilliant? No. It has issues, but I maintain, those issue don't matter. It's Indiana Jones, after all, not Citizen Kane. Does the movie entertain and add to the franchise? Yes, it does. Do I regret the admission price or not getting home until 3:15 AM? No, I don't. In fact, I'd do it again tonight if someone asked me to.

Sometimes all a movie has to do is entertain.

*Is he really 65?

**Seeing a movie in Hollywood is like attending a play anywhere else.


Jamie Ford said...

65? That's amazing...

I skipped class with a bunch of friends in high school, to camp out for the premiere of Temple of Doom.

Such a geek-tastic thing to do, but there's nothing like seeing a much anticipated flick among fellow fanatics.

Rachel said...

Not with Indiana Jones, but with the other Harrison Ford biggie - Star Wars - I remember driving down to Seattle to see the movie at the Cinerama Dome. We sent a few people down ahead of us to get tickets for the entire group.

And when they showed Star Wars for the second time in theaters a few years ago you bet I stood in line to watch!

Rachel said...

Just read another friend's blog about the new Indy film. He's about the same as you - little hiccups, but great movie:

C. Leigh Purtill said...

Sounds like an amazing way to see Indy 4. Wicked jealous here on the east coast where there is NOTHING like Arclight! Glad it was a fun time for you...:)