Thursday, July 31, 2008

In Other Action-Movie News...

Stephen Rowley explains why Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is his favorite of the series.

I've already said my piece about why I love this movie (and, yeah, I think it's the one in the series that I return to most often) several years ago. The only thing that's changed since then is that it's no longer possible to consider Doom the weakest link in the Indiana Jones series. (It's a bit like Return of the Jedi breathed a silent prayer of thanks in 1999 when a new movie came along to prove it wasn't so bad after all.)

I also think that Doom and Gremlins stand together not only in that they jointly helped create the PG-13 rating, but in that they both show Spielberg reacting against the success of E.T. Spielberg produced Gremlins and encouraged Joe Dante in making it dark, and what Gremlins basically is, is an open parody of E.T., where cute merchandisable creatures are going to multiply and destroy us all. Doom is the nasty flip side of the sweet E.T., a movie where kids don't have wonderful blissful adventures, but instead are beaten, enslaved, rejected by their father figures. Spielberg always had a mean streak, but here he combines that mean streak with kid-friendly elements (including the gross-out dinner scene, which is definitely aimed at kids). After this movie he retreated from this kind of nastiness, but I find it more interesting than most of what he's done since then. The niceness and goodness of Last Crusade, where bad things only seem to happen to bad people, is very bland by comparison.

3 comments:

Stephen Rowley said...

Hey, thanks! I'd also recommend Alexandra Du Pont's defense in this article: http://tinyurl.com/32zyq9 . She makes a lot of similar points a little less long-windedly.

Anthony Strand said...

Isn't it possible to consider Temple of Doom as the worst of the series? I, for one, thought Indy IV was a lot of fun.

J. J. Hunsecker said...

I always felt that Gremlins satirized E.T., too. In fact, one scene directly parodies E.T. -- when the gremlin leader Stripe openly hides on a toy shelf in a department store. It recalls the scene in E.T. where E.T. hides in Gertie's closet, surrounded by her toys. In the Gremlin scene, after Stripe's ruse works he knocks over an E.T. doll as he leaves the shelf. It should be noted that the director Joe Dante got his start in the film biz by shooting a parody of Speilberg's Jaws, titled Piranha.

Dante not only seems to subvert Speilberg's films, but also Frank Capra's. In Gremlins it's like cartoon characters from a Clampett cartoon invade the town from It's a Wonderful Life.