Whilst in the area, I hit my favorite eating spots such as Original Pancake House (OHOP, Strawberry Crepes!), Corner Slice (house special, 2 slices and a drink!), Two Amys (the Two Amys pizza!), Cactus Cantina (MARGS!) and 5 Guys (bacon chee!). All were delish, as I remembered. Some friends showed up for Cactus and it was great to catch up with everyone!
It was super weird to be back in Bethesda. A lot is the same but some parts are super re-developed now, like the massive new apartment complex across from Giant! I used to work at the old Giant pharmacy and it was funny to see how different it looks from back then. It was also weird driving around going to and seeing all these familiar places but as a visitor rather than a resident.
On Monday my last day, I went with my mom and friends to see Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at this theater I used to always go to with my dad all the time when we lived in MD. Sadly, the movie was kind of terrible. It had some good parts but was by far my least favorite of the four. Here is my list of problems with it (I love lists BTW):
1. No tension/danger. I never felt like Indiana Jones might not win, which was always great about the older films... he's a good fighter but he always got kicked around A LOT before he could win. Like in Raiders of the Lost Arc when he's fighting that huge Nazi near the plane in Cairo, Or in Temple of Doom when he fights the guard on the conveyor belt but is being voodoo stabbed at the same time, or in Last Crusade when he is fighting the entire tank crew and Nazi general! There wasn't a moment in Crystal Skull in which I thought he or any of the other characters were in any danger from the Russians.
2. Cate Blanchet was okay but wasn't a scary enough bad guy. Compared to Toht (Nazi with the hot poker/burned hand in Raiders), Spalko is a joke. And the other bad guy Russian didn't even register. He just totally phoned it in.
3. Triple Agent Beowulf. The character of Mac (played by Beowulf's Ray Winstone) was so pointless it blew my mind. It seems like his character just got pasted in last minute because they wanted more twists.
4. Aliens. The movie was okay up until the whole alien/finding the crystal skull parts came in. The end made no sense (although the ship departing was the most impressive VFX shot in the film). I kind of wish they hadn't seen or shown any of the aliens.
5. Indians literally popping out of temple. Were they just chilling, waiting around for hundreds of years for people to come? Then they just get defeated by a handful of Russians with machine guns? DUMB.
6. SHIA SWINGING WITH MONKEYS....and then the monkeys fight the Russians.The movie REALLY lost me at this point. I just couldn't believe how dumb this was. This had George Lucas influence written all over it. FAIL.
7. No Sallah! It's bad enough they "killed off" Dr. Jones Sr and Marcus Brody, how did they not a least bring in Sallah ("INDIE!") for the (SPOILER) wedding at the end???
8. (SPOILER) The end where somehow Indiana Jones gets rehired as the dean of the school even though he got blacklisted and has no proof of discovering extraterrestrial life. How did he get rehired? If anything the FBI would have more evidence that he was helping Russians!
Overall I just felt this movie was just trying to go way too big and ignored the formula of a tighter narrative that first three films mostly delivered. In those pretty much everything (even the old knight in Last Crusade as silly as that was) was set up and paid off, in this the alien is never really explained (why melt Spalko and not others? Why did they even come to Earth? What are the powers of the Crystal Skull? Indians popping out of temple? The list could go on). If it was up to me I'd have them go in a different direction on what the aliens were because I thought the movie was fine up until they went to Peru. Really the best thing would have been to have made a WWII Indiana Jones movie like 10 years ago like they mentioned in the beginning of movie. Anyhow, the movie wasn't as bad as say, Star Wars Episode I but it was surely a let down. It felt a lot like Transformers where it had some cool aspects but overall they did a poor job making a good movie of what I loved in my Childhood.