Nineteen years after he last rode off into the sunset, the man with the hat is back in action with the release of the first trailer for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” Great? Amazing? About darn time? Maybe. But no time for love, Dr. Jones — not when there are so many clues to figure out. We went through the trailer shot by shot to discover what it tells us about what is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated film in years. Have Lucas, Spielberg and company chosen … wisely? You decide.
0:06: A moving helicopter shot over a mountain forest (South America?) fades into the Paramount logo (a large, snowcapped mountain), which itself fades into the new logo for Lucasfilm Ltd., here a map image of some large continent. Lucas has made no bones about his feelings regarding the tone of the new film, telling MTV News recently that it was most like “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Here’s our first subtle and almost subconscious clue to that effect: The fade from logo mountain to real mountain (or, in the case of “Temple of Doom,” gong/mountain) has been a staple in-joke for Spielberg in the first three films. The second we saw it here we were already recalling the earlier flicks, even before the succeeding montage.
0:14: “He protected the power of the divine.” Several shots from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in quick succession, including Indy in the map room of Tanis, an over-the-shoulder shot of the ark’s power manifesting, Indy sifting through the wasted commandments, blowing sand from the map room markers, and finally a shot of diggers silhouetted against the desert sun.
0:22: “He saved the cradle of civilization.” Several shots from “Temple of Doom,” again in quick succession, including a shot inside the temple, brief looks at the three reunited Sankara Stones, bats and freed children.
0:29: “He triumphed over the armies of evil.” Our final montage — this time from “The Last Crusade.” Shots here include a Nazi book-burning rally, and Indy riding off into the sunset, entering the room holding the Grail and, finally, choosing the chalice.
Of particular note here: Throughout the montage, Indy is never actually shown from the front. His face is always obscured, silhouetted or otherwise not shown. It’s a subtle way to accomplish two things: First, of course, it’s a reminder of Indy’s previous adventures. At the same time, though — and perhaps more important — it’s a buildup to this adventure. By the 40-second mark, we’re dying with anticipation to see our hero.
0:37: The “Saving Private Ryan” shot: a pan up from a semi-translucent American flag to an Army convoy, driving through the desert to a military base. Area 51?
0:40: Overhead shot of soldiers surrounding an old car, Indy’s hat on the ground. How did it wind up there?
0:41: Indy is pulled from the trunk of the car and thrown to the ground.
0:48: Well, of course it doesn’t matter how his hat got to be on the ground next to the car while he was in the trunk, as the payoff is a classic Indy moment. Dr. Jones calmly walks over, grabs his hat, and is instantly silhouetted on the car door — all while John Williams’ music plays for the first time.
In a recent video on the Indiana Jones Web site, Harrison Ford spoke at length about the hat, specifically how he never loses it unless it’s done as a setup for some visual payoff or joke. Here the payoff is the first real money shot in the trailer (Ford’s face, seen for the first time a few seconds later, seems anticlimactic by comparison). Indy’s iconic status, of course, is underlined by this association, the way he’s instantly recognizable — and somehow more “real” — as a silhouette than a flesh-and-blood character. In fact, this has always been true. Recall the way he’s introduced in “Raiders” (from behind), or the way Marion recognizes him later on in the film (his shadow).
0:58: “This ain’t gonna be easy,” says Ray Winstone, who plays Mac, a character that producer Frank Marshall compared to Belloq and Sallah. “Not as easy as it used to be,” Indy replies.
From Jones the archetype to Jones the man, Spielberg and company are already showing us the second great identifying trait of Indiana Jones: his world-weariness, cynicism and casual attitude. It seems like every time Indiana opens his mouth, what he really wants to say is, “Oh no, not again.”
1:01: Indy runs through a warehouse away from gunfire. Again!
1:03: Our first look at Irina Spalko, played by Cate Blanchett. She’s the first element that looks out of place. Despite being older, Indy, to us, still looks like the Indy of the 1930s and ’40s. Blanchett, on the other hand, looks straight out of “Happy Days.”
1:04: Indy uses his whip to swing from the top of a stack of boxes to an Army truck — and right back into the windshield of the truck behind it. “Damn, I thought that was closer.”
One, the setup with Blanchett would lead us to believe that the enemies he’s facing are Russian soldiers, but the people he punches here are clearly U.S. Army officers. It remains a possibility that they are Russians in disguise, but it appears that, unlike the first film, Indy is now operating as a rogue agent.
Two, the Indy series has always prided itself on using real stuntmen for real stunts — with as little CGI as possible. This shot and the shot immediately following — of several large boxes getting blown up — are clearly CGI. While none of it looks slick and “modern,” in a “Terminator” or “Transformers” sense, it’s a bad harbinger for the film itself, in that the filmmakers chose to spotlight this particular sequence so early.
Three, when MTV News received a photo of Indy on top of several crates, we assumed it was the same warehouse from the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” That appears to be solidly confirmed here.
1:20: Our first look at Shia LaBeouf, as the greaser Mutt (Henry Jones III?). Our first glimpse of the character, and we’re already two-thirds of the way through the trailer. Good.
1:21: South American natives. Back in September, after LaBeouf announced the film’s title at the Video Music Awards, Harvard crystal-skull expert Marc Zender predicted that Indy’s journey would bring him back to the Amazonian continent. This is concrete evidence that he was correct.
1:24: More proof: The centerpiece of Argentina’s Iguazu Falls, known as “The Devil’s Throat.”
1:26: The biggest spoiler of the trailer: a shot of a box with the words “Roswell, New Mexico 1947″ etched on the side in white paint. Assuming that Lucas has decided to follow the tradition, here, finally, is indisputable evidence as to what the powers of the crystal skulls are. Again deferring to the expert, Dr. Zender posited that one theory on the origin of the crystal skulls was that they were ancient alien “supercomputers,” akin to modern-day silicon chips. After “protecting the power of the divine,” Indy is now after an even greater weapon — ultimate knowledge.
1:27: Indy and Irina play a high-stakes game of bumper cars above Iguazu.
1:29: Indy blows up a caravan with a rocket-propelled grenade as Mutt sits to his right.
1:30: The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull assembles around Indy and friends before quickly swallowing them up in some kind of quicksand. Among the party are Indy, Mutt, Mac, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), and an unidentified fifth member with long blond hair. Could it be Abner Ravenwood, Marion’s father and Indy’s former mentor? We think so.
1:33: Indy and Marion run from natives, an obvious nod to a similar sequence at the beginning of “Raiders.”
1:34: “You’re a teacher?” Mutt asks, as shots of Indy in action (including one of Mutt, Marion and Dr. Jones in a jeep) are interspersed. “Part-time,” Indy says.
Find out what it all means when the movie hits theaters May 22, and share your thoughts about the trailer with other Indy fans at the MTV Movies Blog.
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