So towards the beginning of the movie, Dr. Jones tells us:
Legend says that a crystal skull was stolen from a mythical lost city in the Amazon, supposedly built out of solid gold, guarded by the living dead.
But guess what? When they get to the city, it is NOT guarded by the living dead. Instead, it’s guarded by the cast of Apocalypto.
No, George Lucas! Bad Lucas! You do NOT promise your audience zombies in the first reel, and then flake out!
And If any of you are feeling generous towards Lucas, you might suggest, “Well, just because they don’t look like zombies or act like zombies doesn’t mean they’re not immortal, magical guardians.” But the official novelization of Crystal Skull describes these guys only as “Ugla warriors” (p. 272) and “tribesmen” (273). And more importantly, when Indy first mentions the legend, the novel entirely omits the part about the “living dead” (p. 86). (By the way, I didn’t buy the book. I just looked at it in a Barnes and Noble. I just want people to know that.)
Survey the damage after the jump.
Even worse, Indy’s line was actually featured in the Crystal Skull trailer, leading many fanboys to spend months anticipating an Indy/zombie showdown:
- From Slashfilm: “The coolest reveal here is that the plot’s plush Amazonian temple is said to be guarded by the undead, so on top of the rumored alien subplot, it appears Indy IV will be fencing off with that ambiguous X Files sequel for air conditioned supernatural kicks.”
- From Cinemablend: “Oh, and did I mention the skull is guarded by the living dead? That’s right: zombies!”
- And from the mighty BBC: “The film opens in 1957 at the height of the Cold War, and that the hero is on the search for a skull stolen from a lost city and guarded by the living dead.”
Seriously, why foreshadow something far cooler than what you actually deliver? My guess is, they were originally planning some manner of zombie guards. And then someone pointed out that, “Shucks, there’s a new Mummy movie on its way. And we sure don’t want to be accused to ripping off the franchise that ripped off us. So let’s lose the living dead angle.”
And I actually agree with that logic. As fun as it would be to see Indiana Jones whip a zombie’s arm off, that’s Brendan Frasier’s job.
But why, I ask, could they not change that line? Are they cynical enough to keep it because it sounded good in the trailer, knowing full well the film didn’t deliver? Are they sloppy enough that it didn’t occur to anyone that the “living dead” line needed a rewrite?
Sub-complaint: The natives are chased away simply by showing them the crystal skull, a trick that was:
- Already used on the CGI ants.
- So simple, it hardly seems worth it to introduce these guys at all. Guess Lucas thought they’d look good on the poster.