Quelling the excitement

This has happened before, I realize. This excitement welling up inside me, refusing to be quelled with objectivity or realism or cynicism or any of those fundamental critic qualities. You see, I was 11 when Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace hit theaters with the force (and destructive capabilities) of the Death Star’s superlaser, obliterating the hopes of excited nerds worldwide like so many Alderaans.

We were all excited, the fans. I believe ecstatic would be a fitting term for the unbridled elation that we felt in the days, weeks and even months leading up to Episode I. It had been over 20 years since “Star Wars” was unleashed, changing the face of cinema. We were pumped.

And then the film sucked and we weren’t quite sure what do with ourselves.

But it’s happening again, the excitement. That same uplifting happiness I felt nine years ago. On Valentine’s Day, the first teaser for Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull debuted online (you can catch it at www.indianajones.com if you haven’t already). It was one minute and 51 seconds in length. And it was fantastic.

The trailer opens with a sweeping shot of a misty jungle, followed by the iconic Paramount logo and a nifty new Lucasfilm opening with a sepia-toned map in the background.

We move briskly through the previous adventures: we’ve got Indy in the famous map room, the ark and the beautiful sunset dig shot from Raiders of the Lost Ark, saving the mining children from Temple of Doom, and finally, Indy grabbing the Holy Grail from Last Crusade.

Alright, alright, we’ve seen all of this, Spielberg. Bring on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull footage. Us fanboys are hungry!

We see Indy getting roughed up by Soviet foot soldiers, thrown to the ground (his hat even falls off—classic). And then the words, “On May 22, the adventure continues” flash across the screen and there’s the infamous fedora sitting there on the ground. John Williams’ legendary theme kicks in, that familiar brass section fading in gloriously. Indy plucks the hat up and we see, through silhouette, him tugging it onto his head.

And now the trailer really begins.

Ray Winstone (who’s playing Indy’s sidekick, Mac) says, “This ain’t gonna be easy.” And Harrison Ford, in his signature gravel, says “Not as easy as it used to be.” Commence 45 seconds of awesome.

We’ve got car chases taking place in the warehouse from Raiders, on sheer cliffs, across ruins. There’s Indy with an RPG launcher on his shoulder, shots of the villain, played by Cate Blanchett. Indiana punching, kicking, whipping, swinging and just generally being a badass.

There are also a few shots of Shia LaBeouf, who is (reportedly) playing Indy’s son. And the whole thing ends with LaBeouf’s character saying to Indy, “You’re a ... teacher?” And Indy, quite seriously, responds with, “Part-time.”

The teaser trailer is just under two minutes in length, and only a minute of that is new footage from Crystal Skull. But it still delivers in spades, and you can bet this Indiana Jones fan is excited.

The visual style is consistent with Indy’s previous adventures, and there’s a refreshing lack of CGI used in the stunts and special effects. Blanchett looks great as the films villain, and it was cool to see Karen Allen return to the role of Marion, everyone’s favorite Indy girlfriend.

This flick is making me feel warm inside. Memories of sitting cross-legged on the living room couch and stuffing great fistfuls of popcorn into my face while watching Raiders of the Lost Ark religiously flash through my mind as I anticipate that day, not three months away, when the great Harrison Ford will once again grace the big screen as that most celebrated action hero, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr.

I’ll reserve my supreme pre-judgment for a full-length trailer. As a film critic and Jar-Jar Binks survivor, I realize that I should probably maintain a sense of disparagement with this. I don’t think my fragile cinephile psyche could take another letdown in the vein of Episode I. But I can’t help it.

For now, I’ll simply say that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull looks very, very promising. And you can bet that my butt will be in that theater seat come May 22.

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