Hello nerds! I assume we all saw the Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny trailer:
Want to know my opinion? Given that this is the Internet, where opinions last forever, and given that I might want to work for Lucasfilm one day—it is without a doubt the greatest trailer I have ever seen in my life!
The de-aging technology for young Indy (or who we used to call just “Indy”) is pretty impressive.
There does seem to be a general “video game” effect going on. Having been a kid in the analog world, it’s just different today. In the 1980s, they had composites and matte paintings—but everything was real. It had weight. This frame is, I am sure, 100% real:
What’s real in this shot from the trailer?
I don’t know. But given the peril of the actual stunt for an 80-year-old actor (or any human)—well, I would safely estimate it is far less than 100% real.
I don’t say these things with any kind of religious fervor. I don’t care! What’s “real” in this frame? Probably almost nothing. But it doesn’t matter!
That’s because James Cameron is a creative and technical genius who monomaniacally pays attention to every single little detail in order to create an immersive reality—and he obeys his own rules.
In most of these VFX-heavy films today, however, there’s a divide between the VFX guys and the director. The VFX artists are, of course, doing technical miracles. But I get the sense they’re just trying to make a bunch of ridiculous stuff work as best they can.
I think the real creative problem is at the writing stage. Somebody says, “I know! We’ll have Indy ride a horse down a subway tunnel! And the train is coming and he just barely escapes! Awesome!”
Well...that moment is in the trailer. And it looked stupid to me.
How the hell would you get a horse into the subway and what would actually happen? I don’t think that horse wants to go anywhere down there.
I remember Sam Raimi explaining that when they did the first Spider-Man, they tried having Spider-Man swing on his webs in actual Manhattan backgrounds. But it didn’t work. It looked fake to have a fake man in a real background.
When they made it a slightly artificial city—slightly fake—it matched, so it worked:
All this is to say—the movie has to be consistent. There has to be enough reality in any given moment so that we understand the stakes and the danger and feel the suspense, “How’s he going to get out of this one?”
But when anybody can do anything, when gravity and logic and reality have no bearing...it’s not exciting. To me, anyway.
My heart kind of sank in that last moment of the Indy 5 trailer. It’s a gag where Indy cracks his whip in a room full of bad guys to back them off. Then the bad guys all pull guns on Indy:
Okay, funny moment! And a call back to the classic Raiders moment where Indy shoots the swordsman.
But then: all 38 bad guys simultaneously FIRE THEIR GUNS at Indy—who ducks.
It’s a comedic moment. I’m sure it’ll get a lot of laughs. But I’m sorry to be a wet blanket, my writer brain was like, “Aw, nooooo.” As in, I would never write that.
Have Indy captured—sure. Maybe have him jump out the window to escape before the bad guys can grab him? That could work.
But to have them all fire their guns? It’s just stupid. I mean, none of them are worried about hitting each other, or a ricochet?
And what happens next, Indy crawls under the table to escape all 38 bad guys? And somehow nobody shoots him?
It’s so unreal that it deposits us in a land where nobody behaves like a real person, physics and logic have no meaning—so we’re just watching silliness. Sigh.
It’s really worth that one laugh to jettison all potential for suspense?
It’s also like the opposite of the genius moment in Raiders where the bad guys pull their guns on drunk Indy in the bar, and Sallah’s kids rush in to rescue Indy—that was so unexpected and clever and interesting, yet also believable, because it came from human behavior in a way that was novel but logical.
Anyway, if you’re wondering about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, there’s already a ton of chatter and rumors, a lot of it negative. Spoilers here. You’ve been warned.
However, most of the negativity seems to be coming from the same incel loser fans who always complain about female characters and are apparently up in arms at the prominence of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character.
Anyway, I have a policy to review movies after I have seen them, not before. I hope it’s great!
One last note...about the trailer music. The trailer uses the John Williams themes, but it’s obviously not by John Williams. It’s like a super simplified “memory” of the Williams themes in a modern style, which seems to be how all these “legacy” trailers are done: a celebration of the past.
Back in 2015, for the first Force Awakens teaser trailer, they actually had Williams score it. I loved that trailer score, which you can hear here isolated:
So weird and cool!
But for the second, longer Force Awakens trailer, they started the style of using “slow and simple” recitations of the Williams themes—and they’ve stuck with it. It must have tested better.
Far be it for me to argue with the marketing department!