Tag Archives: The Pelican Brief

News Flash: Real-life archaeologists aren’t like Indiana Jones

Not knowing a good thing when it lands in his lap, some archaeologist has gotten up on his hind legs in the WaPo to complain that the Indiana Jones movies give people the wrong idea about his field, and that he and his colleagues really aren’t swashbuckling babe magnets who can duke it out with platoons of Nazis and Commies while hunting for tchotchkes with supernatural powers. To which Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford can only blush, look abashed and say, “Gee, sorry about that.”

Reminds me of my bright college days, when I took a class in paleontology expecting . . . well, Christ in a sidecar, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I got was a stocky, Amish-looking guy who droned about cladograms for three hours a week while my brains gently dribbled from whichever ear was lowest at any given time. In evolutionary terms, his personality was perfectly adapted to the role of spending three sweltering months in the Wyoming hills gently scraping crumbs of rock from a fossil without losing his mind. The fun stuff was all in the Ray Harryhausen movies. And now you tell me archaeologists don’t use their bullwhips to swing across piranha-filled moats? Well, paint me yellow and call me a cab!

Personally, I was thrilled when The Pelican Brief came out, and I spent every week of its release hoping that people were getting the idea that being a newspaper reporter involved gun battles, car chases and making time with Julia Roberts. But that’s just me.

Meanwhile, everything I’ve heard about the current entry in the series, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Grecian Formula, only makes me gladder that I kept my butt out of the theater and my ten bucks in my pocket. Though I was ready to stand by the screen and cast rose petals into the air whenever the divine Karen Allen appeared, she apparently has virtually nothing of interest to do — she doesn’t even clock Indy on the jaw for old time’s sake.

But what really killed my interest, and killed it double dead, was the news that the film is loaded with computer effects — really crummy looking computer effects, from what I hear. Nope, uh uh, no way no how. The Indiana Jones flicks are about stunts and practical effects. Sure, there’s always a big Industrial Light and Magic blowout at the end, but up to that point it’s been armies of stunt men and women getting scuffed up. CGI ants? What is this, the Lost in Space remake? I ask you!

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