I've had the unique opportunity to see this movie twice in 12 hours on opposite coasts. I watched it last night at 12:01 in the company of r_sikoryak , his wife (and co-director of The Bentfootes) Kriota Willberg, and loyal Wadpaw reader The Editor at the too-small, under-equipped City Cinemas Village East Theaters in New York City, then flew home to Santa Monica, picked up the kids from school and took them to a matinee show at the state-of-the-art Century City AMC 15.
Or at least the show at the Village East was supposed to start at 12:01. (To add to the excitement, jacksonpublick and date were seated the next row over.) Around 12:15 a burly man charged up the aisle carrying the huge spool of film on his shoulder, and about five minutes later the movie actually started. The sound was tinny and the projection substandard, as it has always been at that theater. I liked it just fine, R sent me an email saying he was conflicted, Kriota enjoyed picking apart the logical inconsistencies, The Editor seemed pleased but not blown away, and Mr. Publick was seen weeping softly for his ruined childhood as the lights came up.
I admit I was a little hesitant to see it twice in 12 hours, especially as I haven't slept in about a week due to traveling, but the sound and projection at the Century City AMC is astounding and I enjoyed the movie easily twice as much on the second go-around, with my seven-year-old son on one side, marveling at the ravenous ants and cheering the atomic bomb, and my five-year-old daughter on the other side, cowering in fear of the mummies and whispering to me that Cate Blanchett looks really good, both with her sunglasses and without them, both ways looks really good.
(Dad, by the way, agrees. And in fact I'll go one better -- Irina Spalko is my favorite Indy bad guy -- sexy, tough, resourceful, human, smart and funny. She has a good plan and her prosecution of it is logical and consistent. She's everything a bad guy needs to be.)
(When she meets her doom, Kit was a little confused and a little horrified. The following conversation occurred:
KIT: Dad, what just happened to her?
DAD: [gives an explanation of what happened to her]
KIT: Oh. That's okay, we hated her anyway.)
I will need to watch the movie again with a timer and a pause button to properly analyze the screenplay, but I will say that upon two viewings the script holds together as well as any of the Indiana Jones adventures do and better in some areas than ever. It is thematically rich and consistent, and the action is as fluid as we would expect from the director of Raiders and as complex as we would expect from the director of War of the Worlds.
The first time around, sure, there were some things that stuck out weird to me, but that effect came largely from my own expectations, not from what's actually in the movie. The second time around, with my Indy-loving kids by my side, none of that stuff seemed to matter anymore -- it was a much more purely enjoyable experience, visceral and effective, inventive, sly and affectionate.
I read about people saying that the first 25 minutes is great but then the movie loses its energy. That's not the movie I watched, it seemed to keep going just fine, keeping pace not only on its own terms but on the terms of its predecessors.
First time around, it was a little weird to see Indy have to drag four or five other people around for the last hour of the movie. Second time around I barely even noticed it.
Anyway, it's getting late and I still haven't slept yet so I'll stop here. It's a real movie, it's a real Spielberg movie, and yes, it's a real Indiana Jones movie. Which is not to say there was not some confusion in my corner of the theater, leading to these two comments:
1. SAM: I think it's set in 1957 because the actor playing Indiana Jones is just that much older. That's why he looks so old. They made it happen later because he's old now.
2. KIT: (pointing) Is that Indiana Jones?
KIT: Why isn't his hair brown?
Within moments of returning home, Sam found his brown fedora, a life-size plastic skull and a pillow case and was seen romping around the house pretending to be Indiana Jones in his latest adventure.
There are, of course, Spielberg references tucked into almost every scene -- too many to recount here, some of them very oblique and almost subliminal.