A look back to 2008 and the magazine coverage of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL in the various British (and American) film magazines...
VANITY FAIR FEBRUARY 2008
Well, this was our first proper look at INDIANA JONES and the first part of LUCASFILM's multi layered promotional attempts for the film after months during filming in which so much had been successfully kept secret. Who better to launch the look and feel of the film to the public than VANITY FAIR, and who better to show it's first posed studio photography than the respected, legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, who also bought the same kind of visuality, style and gravitas to the previous STAR W ARS Prequels when they too had covers and features within the magazines pages.
From the all-important cover, we get our first proper glimpse of Harrison Ford in the film, back in the familiar Fedora and leather jacket we'll associate him with forever, and, for a 65 year old, I hope I look as good if I ever reach that age. The inside pictorials are also nice though they still don't reveal a lot (i wonmder just how much great photography Leibovitz took that we'll just never see!!). It's great to see Marion (cheeky Karen Allen) back in a terrific spread picture on a bike with Shia (is he or isn't he Indy's son?) LaBeouf as Mutt, and it's equally inspiring to see the first official picture of Cate Blanchett as the villainous Agent Spalko from the film. If ever there was an actress who can make a part her own, with a distinctive style of her own as well, it's Blanchett-the rapier hanging down by her side also promising some dangerous action involving her against Indy and the gang. We knew John Hurt was being kept secret, but where were the pictures of loveable Brit rogue Ray Winstone?
As for the inside feature article itself, well it's VANITY FAIR so it's a good one- detailed, complex, accurate, and written by someone who knows and loves his INDY lore. And it's intriguing to see where Lucas and Spielberg, as interviewed, will be taking this new, final INDY film as it enters the age of Russians, communism, the atom and flying saucer men- an interesting move on the latter that would elicit cheers from Ed Wood Jr if he were still alive today! Lucas already had worries during the interview (presumably conducted around late Summer 2007) that the film will receive a critical backlash upon it's release, but we all know, having seen the trailers, and the genuine feel that the film IS an INDIANA JONES adventure, that this ain't gonna happen.
REVIEW RATING: A tasty start to the main course- 8/10
EMPIRE MAGAZINE MAY 2008 ISSUE
Well, of all the UK film magazines unleashing their big gun cover and features on INDY, this one has to be the most in-depth and satisfying to read-primarily because of the huge access the EMPIRE magazine team have to the film-makers at LUCASFILM, DREAMWORKS/ AMBLIN, and their special relationship with Steven Spielberg (a big fan of EMPIRE since they did a major celebration of his work a few years back that he enjoyed reading). If anyone could have opened the doors to them for exclusive access to the cast and crew, escpecially with regards to a press loathing Ford, who really only does interviews when he really needs to, it would have been Spielberg.
The actual main feature article on the making of the new film, though ever enthusiastically written by STAR WARS/INDY/LUCASFILM resident EMPIRE expert Ian Freer, and carrying some nice factual quotes on the legends of the real Crystal Skulls located around the world, is really only very average, however, and bolstered out with speculation and quotes (EMPIRE have a way, whether you like it or not, of taking four or five quotes with someone on a transatlantic call or a quick hello on a soundtage/ backstage party and literally making a fifteen pages spread out of them with additionaly fan boy info and backgroud stuff), as is the unspectacular layout, which has very few exhilirating photos for such an exciting action adventure spectacle to come-most of which would have already been seen in European film magazines around the same time or several weeks beforehand due to their different release dates to the UK, of which newer images haven't yet been released from embargo by the time the magazine was being put together.
Bypassing the enjoyable but hollow cover feature, the real gem of this special issue is the exclusive making of INDIANA JONES diary/ supplement which has special photo shoots with many of the cast and crew who helped to make the trilogy the success it still is today (and they even managed to get an interview with comic illustrating legend Jim Steranko (who did the conceptual art), though, guys, where was Robert Watts? Y'know he worked on all three of 'em!!). The specially done photo shoots by EMPIRE are terrific, as are the personal remembrances by the behind the scenes-there's nothing really new on INDY's history here to be added, but the genuine love all these people have for the saga, as well as the hard work and dedication by the EMPIRE team in putting the supplement together (if only their STAR WARS ones had been as good!!), is there for all to see. It's a great celebratory piece- nicely designed, great photos, weighty text that means something-that booklet alone makes it an essential purchase.
REVIEW RATING: Whip-tastic, but only for the supplement- 8/10
TOTAL FILM - JUNE 2008 ISSUE
Great cover, eh? It certainly succeeded in getting me to buy it. But what about the inside, I hear you ask. Well, parts of it are better designed, and it has better stills within it's feature pages, than the previous month's EMPIRE special-obviously their having more time to get pictures in from LUCASFILM than their rival, but I have to say the same kind of access that EMPIRE had for their supplement sadly doesn't come into this teritory's inside features,and it all seems shorter than I was expecting. There are some good interview quotes, especially from the film's final writer, David Koepp, and the always friendly Producer, Frank Marshall, though you can also see that some quotes, for Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg, have been pinched from other sources like internet documentaries on INDIANAJONES. COM, rather than new material. But the whole thing just feels to me like it could have been better. More of a case of we've done the best job we can with what material has been made available to us, and in the time allowed. It's okay, but when you see that cover, I was expecting something to blow me away the likes of the magazine's previous CASINO ROYALE issue of 2006-now that really was a great magazine coverage wise, with photos and information I hadn't seen bfore or since.
REVIEW RATING:This is really for the cover (and the bonus DVD which has the first INDY trailer on)- 6/10
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY - ISSUE 988/989 APRIL 25TH 2008
Its that time of the year, when the popular film/TV and media American entertainment magazine brings out its legendary summer movie preview double issue edition-these issues are always keenly anticpated, highly sought after and soon sold out, its content brimming with new photos and tasters of the summer films, and presented with a nice easy to read style of prose that really makes you want to see the upcoming films. Great cover photgraphy is also a given and this issue is no excepton. You couldn't get a better movie for your cover than the KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL and the selected Harrison Ford image selected is of excellent quality.
Though there's nothing much actually new photo content wise, the article is nicely put together, doesn't rely on just a couple of quotes to string it out and the style is a good mixture of fan boy and professional journalism. And, being an American magazine, they have the best access to the studios, film-makers and stars that the other European titles just aren't able to get, though Cate Blanchett is strangely under represented (a deliberate decision by the chameleon actress, perhaps?) in most of the fim articles we've read regarding how she took on the part of Spalko. The feature artcle also delves into areas of the production I wasn't aware of, and, like some of the other magazines, talks about the development hell the film went through in order to reach the silver screen.
Additionally, there is a fun little Q and A interview spread (more of which can be found on the EW website) with Spielberg and Lucas discussing many topics, such as growing old disgracefully, the making of the film, and Lucas jokingly calling Spielberg "a Luddite" for not using digital technology.
As well as Indiana, there are also excellent feature articles and pictures for a whole wealth of movies I also plan to see this year (including IRON MAN, THE X FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, PRINCE CASPIAN, SPEED RACER, WANTED and THE HULK. Another busy year for the summer blockbusters (though the CLONE WARS movie is strangely under-represented-basically, only a half colum and no pictures!!) . Though obviously we're all buying the issue for INDY, this edition of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY is not only an excellent primer for the movie, now a few mere weeks away, but also creates a genuine fun state of mind for watching other blockbuster movies for the rest of the Summer. Let's hope they're all as good as our favourite Archeologist's adventures!
REVIEW RATING: Great fun!!- 7/10