If George Lucas made Groundhog Day: An SFX Review

Dee and I managed to score tickets to an opening day showing of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (thanks for thinking ahead, Dee) and found ourselves immersed once again the world of Indiana Jones.

Now, storyline is not my thing to critique, but I’m a special effects and action glutton. Glutton, I tell you. As much as I absolutely loved the story A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury, I could not stomach the movie because the special effects were so bad. Mind-numbingly bad. Seriously. I haven’t watched it in over a year and I’m tempted to watch it again because I keep telling myself they couldn’t possibly have been that bad. But they were. Ok, back to Indy.

Because George Lucas was involved in this movie there is one thing you can absolutely bet on: there are many unnecessary special effects. Don’t take that to mean that they were bad because, to the contrary, they were quite good. But one of the great things about the Indiana Jones story was always that it was funny and filled with impossible action, but it at least tried to look grounded in reality. In this instance I have one word for you: Groundhogs. Yes, those furry little creatures that pop up out of the ground every February only to tell us we’ve got more winter on the way made a totally unnecessary and completely out of place appearance in this film. My theory is that George Lucas hates us all and is secretly trying to concoct a new version of Jar Jar Binks in every new movie he works on. In keeping with this theory I just have a couple of things to say to Georgy-boy:

As noted above, I love special effects. You show me a movie with lots of really cool explosions, fantastic special effects, and good action and I will miss plot holes you could drive a dump truck through. But even I have my limits. If the special effect doesn’t fit the tone of the movie I find myself picking at the movie, which I really don’t like to do. So please, for the love of all that is good and holy, please tone down the special effects. Oh, and never write dialog again. Thank you.

As far as the action goes, it was great. Was it the most action-filled movie I’ve ever seen? No. Was Harrison Ford as spry as his younger Indy self? No. So why do I say the action was great? Well, they took an aging actor who is playing the same character 20 years after the last time he played that character and actually allowed the character to age. Let’s face it, a lot of action that takes place in movies is totally impossible and would, if actually attempted as seen on the screen, result in severe injury or death. Making Indiana Jones move the way he did two decades ago would have been an insult to us all. I don’t care how well you’ve taken care of your body, when you hit your sixties you’re not going to be doing anything nearly as well as you used to.

Shia Lebouf, on the other hand, got to do a lot of jumping around and, in my favorite action sequence, stood atop a speeding jeep while fencing Cate Blanchett. That was definitely one of the better car chase sequences I’ve ever seen and also managed to play on something said earlier in the film which meant I also laughed (two for the price of one!).

Verdict: B. I would really like to give this a higher rating, but when I’m watching Indiana Jones and a groundhog pops out of the ground prompting me to think of Bill Murray reliving the same day over and over again, I just can’t do it. Part of the Indy charm was the humor, and animals making faces do not fit into that particular mold.

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