the month of may has become the start of the summer movie season, where hollywood studios roll out their blockbusters one after the other every single week. already there was ironman, speed racer, and the chronicles of narnia. it finally took indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull for me to participate in this annual summer event. one reason was it just happened to be playing in harvard square, within walking distance from my house. i caught the 12:45pm showing. for some reason i expected there to be lines or possibly even a sellout but only about 2 dozen people were in the theatre. i thought the movie was entertaining, but definitely the weakest link out of the 4 indiana jones movies. first the good: the interaction between indiana jones (harrison ford) and marion ravenwood (karen allen), along with by their love child mutt (don't think i'm spoiling anything, it's been in the news for months). unfortunately there isn't enough of that.
now the bad: the storyline seems to have been lucasfied, meaning a potentially compelling narrative has been overshadowed by overreaching spectacles (very pretty eye candy, but rather pointless). the thing with indiana jones was despite his heroics, he was still human: he gets injured, loses fights, gets betrayed, makes mistakes. the indiana jones of this movie is more myth than man, taking all sorts of punishment (survives an atomic bomb blast early in the movie, nuff said) but keeps on coming back for more. not since wolverine have i seen such fast healing. it's not just indy, his whole gang is like that, especially in a lengthy jeep/duckboat chase through amazonian jungle and cliffs. there's one scene where mutt (shia labeouf) ends up in a tree and catches up with everyone by swinging through the vines like tarzan. they obviously dialed up the "suspend your disbelief" knob to eleven. another hallmark of lucasfication: gratuitous CGI. you knew it wasn't going to be good when the very first thing you see when the movie started was a CGI prairie dog. not even good CGI, but bad "i know this is fake" CGI. if it was just prairie dogs that would've been fine, but there are also CGI snakes, monkeys, and swarms of killer ants (all indy movies must feature a swarm of something: snakes, bugs, rats). the third bad thing about the movie is the plot itself, something about crystal mayan skulls. it's revealed that they're actually of alien origin. there was something about the early indiana jones movies that seemed to be rooted in reality (even if it was this quasi-religious myth/reality hybrid). once you throw space creatures into the fold, the story becomes too ridiculous.
so given what i just said, i have no doubt this movie will make a lot of money this weekend. but indiana jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull is not the great movie i was hoping it'd be.
my father dropped off his laptop at my place while i was still in harvard square, asking me if i could take a look at it, try to figure out the new bugs he'd discovered. sure enough, when vista wakes up from sleep, the screen begins to flicker so much that you can't see anything. sensing it might be a video driver issue, i installed the video driver from the dell cd-rom. the problem was still there. i then updated the driver for the integrated video card through the get info panel. after a few minutes, what used to be ATI radeon xpress 200 series was now ATI radeon xpress 1150. did i update with the wrong driver? but turns out after i installed vista ultimate, it never did have the right video driver to begin with. once the driver was updated to 1150, the screen glitch disappeared. as a matter of fact, graphics seem more responsive now than before.
i made fruited chicken salad for dinner, stuffed in pita bread, and watched game 2 of the celtics pistons series. celtics ended up losing in a close game. now they must win one in detroit if they want to make it to the championship finals.