Review Detail

8.9 26 10
FanFix August 12, 2012 8862
(Updated: September 05, 2012)
Overall rating
 
8.0
Audio/Video Quality
 
N/A
Audio Editing
 
N/A
Visual Editing
 
N/A
Narrative
 
N/A
Enjoyment
 
8.0
January 18, 2012

Review of Raiders of the Lost Skull by NVJC

I haven’t watched the theatrical cut in a couple of years, so I wasn’t able to fully compare this to the original. On the other hand, this allowed me to watch this film in it’s own right, without constantly noticing what was present and absent.

On the whole, this greatly improves on the original, which I never hated but thought had some pretty major weak spots. Removing of the ‘nuking the fridge’ scene was excellent, nothing appears to be absent, and while I initially missed the iconic mushroom cloud shot, I was very happy to see it incorporated later.

The first half of this film is very much tighter than the original. The warehouse, the interogation by the FBI, and the scene in Indy’s house all run much smoother now. Also, the use of Raiders score definately helps the film! The motorcycle chase definately benefits from a lack of library, which always made it seem silly to me. I would have preferred a different piece of music to the one used here as it feels a little goofy (although I understand your reason for using it).

Once the adventure gets going, the absenses are once again for the better. I can’t remember preciely what was missing from the various tomb raiding scenes, but I remember disliking parts of them while now there was absolutely nothing to dislike. Mutt and Indy’s relationship is nice, it is reminiscant of his relationship with Short Round (which many hate but I consider to be fine) and the parallels with his own relationship with Sean Connery play out nicely (they were always there, but there’s less distractions now). The only problem is these scenes feel a little light and go by too quickly… but that can’t be helped and the original had the same problem. Trimming the fat is only a good thing.

At the half-way point when we meet up with Cate Blanchet again, the editing continues to be good. Marion is less annoying, Indy is less goofy. Returning to what I said about the skull scene and the overlaid montage; this is really excellent. The use of watchmen was very good, and this really addresses a major criticism of the film (later addressed by Red Letter Media), the Russians pose absolutely no threat. You also use the footage from the end of the the film excellently, the CGI alien is horrible but it works well as a sillhouette, and the flying saucer is nicely used also.

The quicksand scene is marvelous and beatifully cut, it simply appears that Mutt thorows them a rope, they are then recaptured by the Russians. Well done, you have gracefully fixed one of the worst scenes in the film.

Now, the jungle chase scene. This was the only part where the edit loses its way. I’m not sure if this scene *can* be fixed, and maybe you’ve done the best that can be done, but it still doesn’t work. Its messy, Spalko keeps popping up in different places and its not clear what she’s supposed to be doing, Mutt dissapears for half the scene then reappears at the end. The original is terrible, but IMO this cut is quite messy and is the lowpoint of the film.

The car tree/cliff scene isn’t great but is a massive improvement over the original. The waterfall scene is greatly improved by being reduced to one.

The scenes in the temple are fine. The original material isn’t great and there’s not much you can do.. I dislike everyone being casually hit with bolas and not being injured but again, what can you do.

The final scene with the skulls works a lot better now. The original film has a generally poor climax so there’s only so much you can do, but it is still vastly improved. Removal of the CGI aliens makes the ending far more watchable (although why can the skeletons talk/think, Mr Spielberg?) and Mac’s death is greatly improved. I thought i’d miss the saucer shot (I’ve always liked it) but having placed it in the flash forward, the ending where everything has collapsed actually works even better. The wedding at the end is still far too white and glowing, but meh.

One big problem I did have, however, was the sound. The music is far, far too loud! I had to literally halve my volume when it came on, then turn it back up so that I could hear what was being said in the next scene. While I do like music to be cinematic, overly loud music is a common problem now. Spielberg may have made a dud movie but he’s still no Michael Bay, and I’d rather Indie felt like Indie and not Transformers.

After watching Red Letter Media’s review, for a while I thought he might be right: the problem with this film is that it exists at all. But watching this edit reminded me that there is still a lot of decent ideas in Indie 4:

- Despite what RLM thinks, the film really does focus on character. There is a genuine love for Indie in this film, a sadness at his ageing, his acceptance of death, the mirroring of his relationships between his son and his father, and just how his character has changed over time.
- The use of the 50′s setting, Indie looking out of place, the changing roles of society, the contrast between the pre-WW2 and post WW2 world, between the USA and Russia; all of these are wonderful aspects of the film.
- Spielberg is still a damn fine director and a lot of this film is beautifully shot
- And of course, some really classic Indie. Without the distractions, you can see how nice it is to watch him crawl through tombs, caves and temples, to retell old legends and travel through exotic lands.

There is a lot to love about Indie 4, and NVJC has succesfully highlighted them. I can’t say whether this will be my definative cut, as 1) I haven’t seen any other IJ4 edits, and 2) I need to rewatch the original again, but its prospects are certainly good, and I’m pretty happy to consider this film a legitimate part of the Indiana Jones franchise.

8/10
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