May 16, 2010

LaBeouf Surprisingly Candid About 'Indy IV'

I'm a huge fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I eagerly waited for a fourth entry in the series following two sequels in 1984 and 1989.   After many rumoured false starts (including versions that would see Sean Connery return as Henry Ford, a version with Kevin Costner joining the cast as Indy's brother and adventures that would see Indy head to Atlantis, the Lost World or Camelot.  When they finally did make a fourth installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, sadly the plot involved aliens, the cast included Shia LaBeouf and the film was the most disappointing sequel since Blues Brothers 2000.  I wasn't a fan of LaBeouf's work before this film, but after it, he rocketed up my list of least favorite actors.   I'm not sure if there's a word to describe the lack of charisma he displays for me as an actor, and while I definitely had issues with the screenplay (and the needless sea of computer generated imagery) his lousy character and perofmance certainly played a big role in sinking this film for me.

LaBeouf is currently in Cannes pimping another sequel he's made to a film he didn't appear in with Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and he spoke very candidly about the disappointing fourth Indiana Jones.  "I feel like we dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished."  Among many scenes in the movie that left me staring at the screen in disgust was a moment where LaBeouf's character was swinging on vines with a bunch of laughably poorly rendered monkey's in a sequence that looked like a low-end video game.   Apparently LaBeouf was also aweare of what an unconvincing and and unintentionally comical moment this was in the movie: "You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven (Spielberg, the film's director.) But the actor's job is to make it come alive and make it work and I couldn't do it.  So that's my fault.  Simple."  The movie, when it was released made boat loads of cash despite lousy word of mouth, and LaBeouf could easily have hidden behind the massive earnings of the movie and never acknowledged it's failure to deliver to the fans, so  I defintley respect his candidness.  He continued: I think the audience is pretty intelligent. I think they know when you've made....   And I think if you don't acknowledge it, then why do they trust you the next time you're promoting a movie?"   LaBeouf went on to say that Harrison Ford, who's spoken openly about his interest in making a fifth Indiana Jones film, was also unhappy with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; then turned his attention to his mentor, Steven Spielberg, who has produced several of LaBeouf's movies.  "He needs to hear this.  I love him.  I love Steven.  And believe me, I talk to him often enough to know that I'm not out of line.   And I would never disrespect the man.  I think he's a genius, ad he's given me my whole life.  He's done so much great work that there's no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film.  But when you drop the ball, you drop the ball."

It's funny, the Indiana Jones series is so dear to me, that I did have an irrational feeling of betrayal by how lousy the fourth movie was.  I remember sitting in the darkened theatre, moments before the movie started and being genuinely excited that I was about to see a new chapter of this beloved series.  My wife turned to me and said "I just hope this doesn't suck."  I remember responding that no matter who bad it was, there was going to be, at the very least, a ten minute stretch of pure awesomeness where I would have an ear to ear grin, Indy would be doing something amazing and the iconic theme music would be booming and that alone would be better then the bulk of my action movie going experiences.  Sadly, I didn't even get that.  It wasn't that long into the movie where I turned to her and simply said "This sucks."  When it was over, with a look of disgust on my face,  I truly did, ridiculously, feel like I was owed an apology for how bad it was.  Amazingly, with LaBeouf's candid remarks, I got one.  LaBeouf also recently spoke candidly about his disappointment with the Transformers sequel as well.  This doesn't make him a better or more charismatic actor to me, but I do respect him more for speaking so honestly about his work.

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