What does Time Magazine’s Richard Corliss think of the new Indiana Jones movie? This is a more complicated question than you might think.
If you go to the Time web site, you can read a fairly lengthy review Corliss filed from Cannes, where the movie premiered. While the review is generally positive, it certainly falls short of glowing (a similar, albeit shorter, version appeared in the June 2nd print edition).
Some representative excerpts:
There are scenes in the new movie that seem like stretching exercises at a retirement home; there are garrulous stretches, and even the title seems a few words too long. But once it gets going, “Crystal Skull” delivers smart, robust, familiar entertainment.
Crystal Skull is intended, and works effectively, as instant nostalgia — a class reunion of the old gang who in the ’80s reinvigorated the classic action film with such expertise and brio. So don’t expect the freshness of the what-one-man-can-do plot in Iron Man, or the oneiric visuals of Speed Racer.
In fact, the movie is a little plot-heavy around the middle. It seems more determined to tell a complicated story than to use a story as the excuse for a convulsive, nonstop thrill ride.
We’ll see how David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson cope with middle age in their X Files movie later this summer. They may suffer from the occasional creaking joints of Crystal Skull. (And, truth to tell, there was more applause here at the beginning of the screening than at the end.) But they’d be hard-pressed to inhabit the sleek, satisfying adventure that three septuagenarians and their pals dreamed up here. There’s a moment in the film where Mutt sees Indy negotiate some really cool bit of action, and the kid can’t help mouth a “Wow.” That’s the right response to this inevitable summer blockbuster. Lucas, Spielberg and Ford ain’t the Over the Hill Gang yet.
In other words, a good, but not great movie, one you’ll probably enjoy, particularly if you liked Indiana Jones 1, 2 and 3.
But, if you happen to be flipping through the movie section of your paper, you might just stumble across an ad from Paramount for the movie and read a different opinion from the same Richard Corliss:
A sleek summer blockbuster. A nonstop thrill ride. Wow! The Crystal Skull delivers!
Thirteen words, four sentences, one continuous quote. The only problem is that Mr. Corliss never wrote it, at least nowhere that I can find. Instead, the quote appears to have been pieced together from words chosen from different parts of the review (in particular the words highlighted in red above), stripped of their context (which in some cases is opposite of their use in the ad) and recontextualized.
“Oh, grow up,” I can hear you saying. “Of course those quotes are bullshit. Everyone know it.” Yes, I know it and so I suspect do the studios, the critics and most everyone who reads them. I can’t find any indication, for example, that Richard Corliss is pissed about being misquoted so grotesquely. No thundering from Capitol Hill about an investigation into how studios and critics are conspiring to defraud moviegoers (though maybe when Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter gets done protecting democracy by investigating whether the NFL adequately investigated the New England Patriots’ taping of opposing coaches’ signals, he can spare some time here).
On the other hand, if they don’t work, why do the studios use them even when they have to reach into the dregs of the reviewer ranks for a positive one (“An edge-of-the-seat rollercoaster of thrills and fun!!!” Jon Austin, SRC Movie Reviews)? I’m guessing there’s a belief – and maybe some actual research – that “Amazing!” and “Sensational!!!” are worth real dollars at the box office. And, given that Indy 4 brought in an estimated $311 million worldwide in its first five days, we’re talking real money.
Surely, their impact – to the extent there is any – is particularly weak in the Internet age when anybody can post a review of anything (making you a “content creator” and a “social media” participant in Web 2.0-speak). Even so, this kind of extreme misrepresentation in other contexts would be grounds for lawsuits, regulatory action or even criminal prosecution. An earnings report that falls slightly below expectations is merely the raw material for “BlahCo Results Amazing, CEO Delivers Winner!” The war could be repositioned as “Mission Accomplished!”
Oh, wait a minute…
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