We went to the 4:00 show at the Castro this afternoon. There were maybe 50 people in the theater with us.
But when we came out, there were long lines in both directions -- one for ticket holders, one for people waiting to buy tickets. We thought about walking down the line and making up things to scare people, like, "Man, I guess that they want to make sure there won't be any more movies, otherwise they wouldn't have had Indiana Jones die in this one." But we figured that that would be too mean (and possibly hazardous to our health).
We ran into a neighbor and chatted with her. A guy in the line, hearing that we had just come out of the movie, asked if they had opened the balcony. We said that there hadn't been any need to open the balcony at the show we had just left, because the main auditorium wasn't anywhere near full. He said, "Yeah, but this is kind of an old-style Saturday matinee kind of movie, and you just have to be able to sit in the balcony."
And I think that probably sums up a lot of people's attitudes about this movie. It represents old-style entertainment and a sense of nostalgia combined with the excitement of seeing something brand new. I think that a lot of people are predisposed to love this movie, and I doubt that many of them will be disappointed.
I don't want to give anything away about the plot (like there's really any way to give spoilers for an Indiana Jones movie in the first place). It's pretty much right in line with the other three movies. Its plot is pretty predictable. Its action sequences are entertaining. The special effects are grand and sweeping. They acknowledged early in the movie that Denholm Elliott's and Sean Connery's characters had passed away. But Karen Allen is back, which is welcome. Shia LeBeouf is well cast. And Cate Blanchett makes a great villain.
Despite what the NY Times review says ("...what’s absent is any sense of rediscovery, the kind that’s necessary whenever a filmmaker dusts off an old formula or a genre standard"), I enjoyed it. I think it depends on what context you view it in. The Times's reviewer seems to be viewing it in the context of "there hasn't been a new one for twenty years." But if you put it into the larger context of "go watch the first three and then watch this one and see how appropriate it feels in the sequence of things," I think it probably will fit pretty well. Maybe not perfectly, but well enough. In fact, watching this one, I recalled watching "The Last Crusade" for the first time and thinking very similarly that it didn't fit perfectly with the previous two, but it fit well enough. Once this movie hits the video shelves, it will just become another episode in the canon. As just another chapter, I think it's maybe not the strongest, but it's far from the weakest link in the chain.
Plus I'm glad we got to see it in the Castro. It really is the kind of movie that should be seen in a grander auditorium than you get at the Metreon.