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Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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I mentioned before my wait of nineteen years for a sequel to Indiana Jones. Last Friday, that wait finally came to an end. That said, I now have to write the review I never wanted to write.

I'm not writing this as a critic. I'll remove that hat for the purposes of this review. It would be silly of me to even pretend to be able to view this movie with complete objectivity.

I did everything I could to keep my hopes and my expectations as neutral as I could.

Even so… the nine-year-old self I wrote about previously, and the 28-year-old that I am now, had his heart broken.

If you aren't interested in reading this in its entirety – writing now I really cannot be sure how long it will be – I will spare you the chore of having to scan for my reaction (assuming you haven't guessed).

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
is in no uncertain terms a bad movie. It's a poor entry into the franchise and most certainly is the worst of the four films. I wrote before that this film will be the catalyst for my faith in George Lucas. He asked why I would blame him alone if the movie is bad. Let me answer that question.

The reason given for the length of time we have been waiting for this movie, at least from the point it was known it was officially in the works, was that all parties involved needed to agree upon the perfect script.

Last I heard, a script existed that both Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg agreed upon. If I am not mistaken, it was written by Frank Darabont. Lucas passed on this script, choosing instead to push his alien crystal skulls idea that he has had since 1992. My guess is that Lucas refused to do anything that didn't involve this story and finally Spielberg and Ford just gave up and let him have his way. So we get the sequel George Lucas wanted, further evidenced by giving him story credit. We get the sequel he wanted and it is a massive disappointment.

Let me say first that it isn't all bad. Harrison Ford is in perfect shape. He slips into Indy as if its been 20 minutes not 20 years. His chemistry with Shia LaBeouf is perfect. His chemistry with Karen Allen is still there. He was a sight for sore eyes — a little older, but still Indy.

For the most part the acting was fine. Everyone delivered solid performances with the exception of Karen Allen. I like Karen Allen but for some reason she was just not any good in this movie. She always seemed to have some silly grin on her face like she was just too happy to actually have work to try to do anything else in the movie except smile. Granted, some of the back and forth between her and Indy was reminiscent of Raiders, but she never really fell back into Marion. Her character felt really tacked on also.

Shia LaBeouf was a welcome addition. He was funny and serious and put everything into his character. My money is on him returning for the next one. Cate Blanchett was fine as usual. I don't think she is capable of giving a bad performance even if she is playing a completely useless character.

Let's tick off a couple more good things:

  • The chase scene through the college was classic Indy, exciting, fun, funny. Perfect.
  • The quicksand scene. Silly, I'll admit, with a hokey rubber snake but funny and again a peek at the classic Indy we all missed.
  • The very last part of the last scene in the movie. I won't spoil it but I enjoyed it.

The bad pretty much amounts to everything else.

I pretty much felt my heart hit the deck when the nuclear bomb went off. Yes a nuclear bomb goes off in an Indiana Jones movie. Apparently, Lucas wanted to cram every possible thing he could into this movie. The worst thing is I never really felt like I was watching an Indiana Jones movie. I felt like I was watching a movie which shoehorned Indiana Jones into it.

There was no heart. No soul. It was just a film. It wasn't an adventure. I didn't have that excitement I had when I saw, when I see, the other movies. At two hours and 15 minutes, I would say there is about 15 to 20 good minutes in this movie. The rest is drivel.

Again, I don't want to get too far into spoiler territory but I will say that the climax of this movie is so ridiculously stupid that I wanted to weep. I wanted to scream at the screen: What the hell is this?! What have you done?!

The bottom line is that it is a silly, pointless movie from a bad script and a terrible story with brief moments of goodness thrown in. Lucas isn't responsible for ruining the franchise, not for lack of trying, but he did deal it a good blow to the gut.

The film has made over $150 million dollars domestic already and by the time you are reading this will probably surpass $300 million worldwide. It is certainly successful, meaning that we'll get a fifth Indiana Jones as originally planned back in the '80s. I can only hope Lucas is satisfied and we can get a real Indiana Jones movie.

My nine-year-old self survived Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, albeit barely, and despite it all, I can't wait for Indy to get back on the screen. I just hope we get the movie that Indiana Jones deserves.

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About Garon Cockrell

  • http://www.zomboscloset.com ILoz Zoc

    You bring up much of what I found lacking in the movie. The CGI also gave it a “neat” look, and neat and Indiana Jones don’t quite fit together. The script framework is good, keeping in step with the time period, but you’re right about the scaling of events and Jones being shoehorned into them. The climax was anticlimactic and just happened. No suspense at all.

    Spielberg’s direction seemed casual, possible due to all the CGI action, and you zeroed in on the main flaw, there’s no adventure. It just all happens. But the cemetery scene is good, the chases fun, and seeing Ford handle the role again is priceless. I also would love to see more about the war adventures he received lots of medals for, as alluded to in the film.

    Lucas does seem to have a knack for killing a good script. Hopefully he’ll butt out of the next one enough to let a solid movie happen.

  • ANGEL BURGOS OLIVEROS

    ‘DR. JONES': IN THE SAME UNIVERSITY CAMPUS WHERE YOU ARE ‘PROFESSOR’,YALE UNIVERSITY, WHERE IN YOUR LAST MOVIE YOU APPEAR RIDING A MOTORCYCLE, YOU SHOULD TRY TO FIND SOME INFORMATION ABOUT THE INCAS EMPIRE, I’M SURE YOU WILL FIND A LOT OF INFORMATION IN ORDER TO NOT MAKE RIDICULOUS PLOTS ANYMORE. IN YALE UNIVERSITY IS ALL THE TREASURE SOME ‘ARCHEOLOGIST’ STOLE IN MACCHUPICCHU, CUZCO,PERU.
    ONE MORE THING PANCHO VILLA NEVER SPOKE QUECHUA, HE SPOKE SPANISH, HE WAS A GREAT MEXICAN LEADER.
    SPEILBERG YOU HAVE DISSAPOINTED ME.

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