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Old 06-12-2008, 06:26 PM   #1
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Indiana Jones and the City of Gods

So, for those people who managed to download a copy of Frank Darabont's Indy IV script before LucasLegal made the website's face melt, what did you think?

Haven't finished it yet (just up to the bit where Indy's getting drunk and steals a few familiar artifacts) and while I'm quite liking it, I really do suspect that this is an early draft - I mean an early draft of Frank Darabont's version. There are a few moments that seem a bit unlikely or clunky, and Indy's best friend turning into an evil moustache-twirling villain in a minute or two is a bit rubbish. At least Mac feels guilty about his decision.

I'll give more thoughts as I go along, but I've already heard that this is the one before Mutt was introduced.

I definitely agree that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull could've been improved, preferably by cutting down some characters, but a fact of Hollywood is - Mutt was needed. There has to be at least one main character who is younger than 40, or kids won't want to see it, and then a lot of parents won't get to see it too. It would've been cool for us Indy fans, but it probably wouldn't bring in a new generation of fans.

Let's see now...

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Old 06-12-2008, 07:48 PM   #2
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Actually this was Darabont's third and final draft.

Some stuff was quite cringeworthy, as much as anything in the final film (Indy reusing Marion's first words from the Raiders script; "The monkey pooped on my chest"; a giant CG snake eating Indy, CMI-style; "Welcome to Earth!" BLAM BLAM BLAM).

Also, showing that Indy finally recovered the Raiders idol = excellent. Having Indy try to steal said idol AGAIN and then later having him use it as a football = not so much.

The first half of the movie has a very 1940's-ish noir tone (gangsters? seedy hotels? an abandoned bag in a train station locker? a vertiginous fight in a clock tower?), and I don't think it's at all what Lucas wanted, judging from how much he's been harping on 50's SF as his inspiration.

Finally, Darabont's draft has far too many villains. Let's see, there's Marion's archeologist husband, who it's plain is entirely amoral from the get-go despite the script's clumsy attempts to hide this; an escaped Nazi living among Peruvian natives, who never actually does anything villainous; the dictator of Peru, a horrible stereotype; a random Russian who has absolutely no character whatsoever; a US CIA operative who does absolutely nothing in terms of story advancement; and a mysterious scarred henchman who was set up as a major villain but died early in the first act.

Now Irina Spalko is perhaps rather thin, but she was clearly written to be THE bad girl, and the role was meant to have gravitas (which Cate Blanchett always succeeds at). Here I don't know who I'm supposed to be booing.


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Old 06-12-2008, 07:51 PM   #3
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Really? How do you know?

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Old 06-12-2008, 08:01 PM   #4
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The date on the script - the Complete Making book says that's when Darabont turned in his last revision.


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Old 06-12-2008, 09:56 PM   #5
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Yeah I believe ATM is right and that this is the last of the drafts that Darabont turned in. That's not to say that it wouldn't have had rewrites leading up to and during shooting had the stamp of approval been given, but this is it. (Also worth noting is that this leaked script has been retyped for internet consumption. I'm sure the only difference between this and the real deal are some spelling errors, but it's still worth noting.

There's some pretty lame stuff in Darabont's script (see: any Indy movie) but overall I find it so much better than the final product. It's more layered and textured, and it doesn't have that stitched together feel of KOCS. My hunch back in 2004 was that this script was rejected primarily because there was too much plot and character stuff for the likes of an Indy film, and indeed there is a pretty high degree of detail for a summer movie, but I thought Darabont nailed the set pieces pretty well too. (The extended biplane chase was pure win.) And when the movie hit the jungle chase, it was non-stop, breakneck action for awhile. It might be a little too talky (so was KOCS, only without any payoff), but I think there's a decent balance between show and tell.

I also caught the film noir and to some degree Casablanca-ish vibe of the beginning part. Indy's Bogart qualities were established in Raiders, and it's good to see Darabont give it some attention. I also want to point out how much I liked Indy's trek around town in pursuit of the skull - one of my major problems with KOCS is that it doesn't feel all that exotic and globe-trotting as an Indy movie should. The basic storyline in City of Gods is the same, with Indy just going to South America and staying there, but the city scenes just offered some welcome setting diversity, and was very Beginning of Fate of Atlantis to me.

Marion is infinitely better in this script. Her femme fatale introduction with her punching Indy was perfect. KOCS seem to think that her trading some barbs with Indy was good enough to make up for the fact they they still made her a damsel in distress with a mildly spunky attitude. The interaction in City of Gods is spot-on and she's actually an integral part of the story rather than resurrected for the sake of it and immediately made into a background character after her admittedly nice re-introduction in KOCS. She's much more resourceful and "in-charge" here, though I'm not sure how I feel about making her into Sophia Hapgood (she's basically an archaeologist here).

I actually really loved the large ensemble of morally questionable characters who share in the adventure - keep in mine that KOCS had as many - only here they're much more enjoyable. If you prefer the likes of Mac (how can an actor so good as Ray Winstone be given a character....but nevermind) to any of the gents here, well, more power to you. Also, I really loved the scene near the end where all the guys after the skull are forced to worked together to escape death. I love scenes like that, they're fun.

Regarding villains in general, they were MUCH more menacing and, well, villainous here. We've got a wonderfully sadistic ex-Nazi, and a Peruvian president who enjoys hanging people en mass as evening ballroom entertainment. I loved Cate Blanchett as Spalko, but she was the only one who put anything worthwhile into the role - the writing wasn't there. Spalko has magical psychic abilities that the movie introduces in the first ten minutes and then never builds on (much like the Crystal Skulls' magnetic properties, it's just there for the hell of it). Most importantly, Spalko never kills one goddamn person. Her goons shoot down some people off-screen, but that's it. Spalko was not someone who ever felt dangerous - she was Wiley E. Coyote and Indy was the roadrunner.

Which brings me to the main reason City of Gods is better for me - the world is actually dangerous. I know these movie's are ultimately pretty light-hearted, but KOCS was way too light. In the original trilogy and Fate of Atlantis, there's some dark, perilous stuff in those stories, and the characters face threats that feel threatening. It would be equally a mistake to make Indiana Jones some kind of horror show, but the opposite end of the spectrum that KOCS occupies doesn't do it for me - City of Gods doesn't skimp on the edgy stuff.

I've seen a lot of complaints about Darabont's having too many references and injokes, but note that there was no shortage of them in KOCS:

-The Ark's cameo
-Sankara stones on Indy's chalkboard
-Indy and Mutt's looks to each other after the Brody statue is defiled
-"Don't touch anything."
-"I've heard this bedtime story before"
-"This is intolerable!"
-"I've got a bad feeling about this." (Also in the Darabont script, but hey, they kept it.)

Also, some of the in-jokes in Darabont's were pure fun - Willie Scott going on to marry a big-shot Hollywood director? Also, I might be the only person who liked the drunken attempt to re-steal the monkey idol...but how Spielberg would have interpreted on film would have had a lot to do with how well it would have worked. Same deal with the snake - it could have translated cheesy, or it could have been awesome. We don't know. Indy's conversation with "Marcus" was silly but also felt genuine and emotional. At least his death wasn't handled in some throwaway line. As someone on another forum riffed on the scene as it was in KOCS: "First dad, then Marcus, then Short Round in that industrial accident..."

The most interesting question I think is why Lucas rejected this in the first place, when the core story and a lot of the set pieces (which on the other hand were probably Lucas and Spielberg's ideas anyway) were there. I guess not giving Indy offspring was the main reason? Also, KOCS is much less subtle about the alien stuff, which maybe Lucas wanted as well. (In City of Gods that doesn't really come into play until the end, whereas in KOCS we're given the mummified Close Encounters puppet from Scene One.) I think most likely is that Lucas wanted something more "light," both in tone and plotting, to what Darabont offered. Who knows, but this is an incredibly fascinating bit of Indiana Jones history for geeks like us, and I'm so happy it's now out there. Overall I liked KOCS, but I felt that there was absolutely nothing special about it. City of Gods had real potential.
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Old 06-14-2008, 01:51 AM   #6
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I managed to download it before it got taken down but haven't really given it a looking over yet. Sounds interesting from what you guys have posted though.


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Old 06-14-2008, 06:38 AM   #7
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Yeah I read it, I think it's definitely not as good as I assumed it would be when it hit the web that Lucas had rejected it, despite Spielberg 'loving' it. Like Jason said, it's not perfect either - but there is a lot of potential in it too. Lucas must really have been hot on the 'we need someone to make a spin-off franchise' idea.


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Old 06-14-2008, 07:02 AM   #8
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I think they definitely should've kept Darabont on the project, at any rate. He's an award-winning writer who has actually written for the character before (several Young Indy stories, if you didn't know, including arguably the best episode Phantom Train of Doom which co-starred Paul Freeman aka Belloq!). He must have really ticked off Lucas.

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Old 06-14-2008, 08:03 AM   #9
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From what I've read of the script so far (and I've only skimmed bits of it), the ending managed to be even cheesier than the one they used - particularly the really clunky dialogue. But there were also some great scenes that got cut.

Oh well. I enjoyed what got made, despite its flaws. I just hope that Indy 5 is better :P.


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Old 06-14-2008, 02:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tingler View Post
He must have really ticked off Lucas.
He didn't "tick off" Lucas, but his vision for Indy was obviously not in-line with what Lucas' was, and since he created the character (though arguably Spielberg, Kasdan, and Kauffman have as much if not more of a hand in shaping him into what he became), he won. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if hiring Darabont in the first place was Lucas' idea, since as you said that two worked together on the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. I know Darabont did some uncredited scriptwork for Spielberg as well though, so it makes sense either way.

According to the story behind this movie's development, the era of the Darabont draft was the one in which Lucas was the least involved - and he was very involved during pretty much every point in the project. It was him long before Ford and Spielberg who really wanted to get an Indy4 made, and kept pushing his general story, which would repeatedly get turned down by Ford and Spielberg. Adamant about his idea (reportedly the alien stuff) he simply put the project on the side and went head on into the Star Wars prequels.

Then, Ford just suddenly decided that he really wanted to do another Indy movie, which kind of got the ball rolling again, and made Spielberg (who admitted until the end that this movie was never something he was particularly obsessed about making) start to work on finding an agreeable script again. I think it's around that time that Lucas came up with the idea for Crystal Skulls, which made the alien stuff more digestible to Ford and Spielberg since it tied things into traditional archeology. But the thing about Darabont's draft is that aside from being given an outline, Lucas wasn't really involved (because he couldn't be) and it was really a collaboration between Spielberg and Darabont. After Lucas rejected Darabont, he reportedly wrote a draft all by himself, or at least spent a bunch of time by himself reworking the story, before more screenwriters were hired and things got back on track, finally leading to KOCS.

My point is, I wonder if Darabont's sin was simply to get the job while Lucas was doing the Star Wars prequels? Maybe Lucas was simply going to reject anything that he couldn't contribute to hands on (from the sounds of things Indy4 from the beginning was Lucas' brainchild), and Darabont was simply of victim of bad timing? Maybe if Lucas had been available to work personally with Darabont the way Spielberg did, a version of Darabont's work would have been what was shot? In short, maybe it was partly an ego thing? A lot of speculation there, but it's nonetheless something that's hard not to think about.

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Old 06-14-2008, 03:00 PM   #11
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Lightbulb

Sounds about right.

The Crystal Skull idea was going to turn up in an episode of the cancelled third series of Young Indiana Jones, and was also going to introduce young Belloq. When that was stopped, Lucas kept hold of it and studied the mythology and he knew he wanted it for Indy IV. However, he wouldn't really start pressing for it until after the very early scripts.

You're right I think - if this was 2004 he'd still be working on Episode III, and probably wanted as much control over Indy as possible. Darabont is a very high-profile filmmaker and not someone who will back down easily. Definitely an ego thing.

Saw it again today. Wish I hadn't. The sound was broken and my movie-going memory of Indy IV will now be tarnished by my last ever viewing of the movie ending with some little kid walking out and saying "That was crap, Incredible Hulk would've been much better".

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Old 06-14-2008, 03:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Tingler View Post
Darabont is a very high-profile filmmaker and not someone who will back down easily.
Okay you lost me there. What do you mean?
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Old 06-14-2008, 03:05 PM   #13
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If Lucas changed anything and Darabont thought it wasn't any good, he'd tell him. I think Lucas doesn't like that type of person. See Star Wars Prequels.

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Old 06-14-2008, 08:13 PM   #14
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Nonetheless, I don't think personal issues are involved with the fact that when Darabont's draft was rejected, it was rejected - any animosity between he and Lucas probably had nothing to do with the fact that he was replaced. After all, Jeb Stuart and Jeff Nathanson were taken off the project, and it doesn't sounds like there was any bad blood about that. Darabont sent in his final work, and Lucas didn't approve it, so they moved forward with someone else. Not that Darabont wouldn't have been given the opportunity to do some more iterations after its approval (supposedly Koepp's script was worked on through shooting), but it wasn't like Lucas would have been willing to iron out the issues in Darabont's screenplay if they were still on good terms. City of Gods' problems were, in Lucas' eyes, fundamental.
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Old 06-15-2008, 07:22 AM   #15
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I suppose it would be quite damaging to the City of Gods script to force a younger side-character in there.

And unfortunately, dumping scriptwriters is just what happens in Hollywood really. Standard practice.

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Old 06-15-2008, 06:14 PM   #16
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darabonts script

hey guys. im sure there must be some legal issue or sth about posting a link here where you can find darabonts script.
still, im very interested in it, wondering what indys adventure could have been in the hands of a great writer like darabont. so in order to avoid any trouble for you, if anyone wants to send an anonymous email to langwilli@gmail.com telling me where i can find it, id be very thankful
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Old 06-16-2008, 11:38 PM   #17
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The script in the final product is better in all facets...good movie and it's even better because it doesn't use this script...



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