Well, I saw it.
Apparently, a few others did, too. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull made $126 million over Memorial Day weekend, and for its first five days (it opened last Thursday), it's brought in $151 million, give or take a few dollars.
I won't bring up any plot points -- in other words, no spoilers here -- but I just thought I'd give my quick commentary on the movie, since the reviews have been decidedly mixed.
Every dollar this movie earns, it deserves. Moreover, I'm never going to say a bad word about a sequel again.
Not that I'm suggesting that all sequels are good -- as in, of good quality. It's just that I recognize that there's nothing wrong with Hollywood giving its audience what they want.
We all know that many critics decry movies that churn out sequel after sequel. Police Academy, for instance, was a fun movie and a big hit when it came out in 1984. It spawned six more sequels, each one, I'm guessing, since I gave up watching them after the second film, of lesser and lesser quality than the previous one. And we all know that critics complain that Hollywood has lost its creative license when they make movies out of TV shows, and the list of the TV-to-movie incarnations in almost endless -- but Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, The Flintstones, The Beverly Hillbillies and The Addams Family are a few that come to mind. And Sex and the City, of course, with the original TV cast, is coming out any day now.
At any rate, before seeing this latest Indiana Jones sequel, I rolled my eyes, too, when I learned of the latest movie sequel or the most recent TV show to become a movie. I mean, did we really need a film about Alvin and the Chipmunks last Christmas? I'm sure I'll find out, since my six-year-old has been asking and asking for me to get the DVD.
But I've decided that I can no longer make fun of Hollywood for making sequels. For starters, it's futile. Hollywood has been making sequels for years. Even Birth of a Nation (1912) had a sequel, Fall of a Nation (1916). Mainly, though, all I know is that I was euphoric when my wife and I drove over to the multiplex to see Indiana Jones over the weekend. You'd think I had just been told I was going to play the Powerball lottery -- and the Powerball officials had rigged it so I would win.
I watched enthralled, extremely happy to see Indiana Jones back, knocking out bad guys, cracking his whip and unearthing ancient artifacts. Was every part of the movie as good as I had hoped? No. But was watching the movie fun? Was it worth my time? And am I glad the film was made? Absolutely, absolutely and absolutely.
Not that everyone will agree with me. We all have different tastes and different reasons that we like what we like. I for one am thrilled and grateful that Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Lucas and Mr. Ford decided to get together and do another Indiana Jones movie. For two hours, at least, I was suddenly an excited 11-year-old boy again, just as I was when I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark. And I probably sound like an 11-year-old right now, the way I'm carrying on about this film.
But that's really the point of sequels, isn't it? To go back in time for awhile, to recapture how you felt when you enjoyed the first film. It's depressing to have a lousy sequel follow a wonderful movie (think of Jaws 2 and Poltergeist 2, sequels to two Spielberg directed films, for instance), but when it's done right -- wow.
Besides, it's a free market and a free society. For instance, last year I saw Rocky Balboa, the probably last film in the Rocky series, and I thought it was great. Earlier this year, what's probably the last Rambo movie was released, and I passed on that. We may hate some of the movies that are offered, but it's not like we're forced to go watch them.
And what's one person's Indiana Jones might be another person's Rambo. Or even Police Academy 5. Or Police Academy 6. If someone ever makes a movie of the 1960s series My Mother, the Car and people want to see it, whom I to criticize?
Granted, by comparing Indiana Jones to My Mother, the Car, it's sort of like comparing steak to Steak-umms, but you know what I mean.
So if Harrison Ford wants to pick up his whip and wear his Fedora in 2038 when he's 95, and shoot a film about Russian spies or Middle Eastern terrorists infiltrating an underground temple under his nursing home, I'll be there. I'll pay the $30 for my ticket, and by golly, I won't even complain.
Geoff Williams is a business journalist and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale).
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Well-Deserved Cash