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

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A little more rugged and world-weary but still as handsome as when we were first introduced to him in The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones is back in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Now a card-carrying member of the AARP, things run a little more slowly and the over the hill jokes are a must. I was hoping that the film would capture the magic of the previous three, but alas, it did not.

The film opens up with Indy being taken by the Russians to what will later be known as Area 51 (or so I assume). Indy is forced by KGB agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) to find an artifact for her located in the same warehouse where we last saw the Ark. This is where the inconsistencies start…

Indy escapes the warehouse and finds himself on Wisteria Lane. No, that’s not Teri Hatcher, it’s a mannequin – oh wait, same thing. Except this suburbia is a nuclear test site. Damn, they don’t make fridges like they used to…

indy.jpgMutt finds Indy on his way to London and tells him that Professor Oxley (John Hurt), a former classmate of Indy’s and friend of Mutt’s family, has gone missing down in South America on his search for a crystal skull. Mutt’s mom is down there and told her if she was in trouble to find Indy to help. Intrigued, Indy and Mutt venture down to Peru to find the two.

A college town chase scene ensues, followed later by a fun romp/chase through the jungles (reminiscent of the Endor speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi). These are the elements most like the old Indy films.

My main problem with the film were mostly with continuity. Indy and gang are soaked yet they seemed to be able to light a torch – with what? Waterproof matches? When were those invented anyway? Metal particles fly to to this magnet, yet other metal items don’t. What gives? Why is the TV on (or working at all?) in this nuclear surburbia? Were there such obvious inconsistencies in the previous three films? I may have to go back and watch them all over again with fresh eyes.

Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is back but with little to do. Her character was sorely underused in the film, but it was great to see Allen back on the big screen. Scrooged, Starman, Animal House — the freckled-face Allen was the Everywoman of film back in the '80s. Marion’s son, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), is a Marlon Brando wannabe but will he inherit the franchise? Mutt Williams and the Temple of Doom, anyone? Not so catchy. Couldn’t he have picked another state for his nickname? Nevada Williams, perhaps?

indy2.jpgWhile everyone, even myself, anticipated another Indiana Jones film after Last Crusade, I’m wondering now if the franchise was better left alone. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was, by far, my favorite film – with a far better story and a chemistry between Ford and Sean Connery that far surpasses the chemistry between Ford and LaBeouf.

It’s still a great popcorn flick, but so far Iron Man is the tops of my list of 2008 summer movies.

Grade C-

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About BeTheBuddha

  • pcta

    Actually, I was quite happy with this movie. Left wearing a big grin. You were worried about the continuity in this film??? He could light a fire tho’ wet??? But, in the first movie, we all bought that he could catch a ride on the top of a submerged submarine and live?? Maybe it is not the franchise but the viewers who have lost the wonderful magic of suspending reality and enjoying the ride.

  • Connie

    I was a kid when the first movie came out so I probably wasn’t aware of the word “continuity” much less any problems with it in the film!

    Guess I’m older and more jaded now. :oP

    I did say it was a good popcorn movie, which it is.

  • http://childoftv.blogspot.com Brent

    “Indy and gang are soaked yet they seemed to be able to light a torch – with what? Waterproof matches? When were those invented anyway?” Can’t find an answer to that one, though it was well before 1957. What’s to invent – dip the head of the match in wax or paraffin to make a thin waterproof coating. Or carry a Zippo lighter. If that’s the sort of thing you worry about, no wonder you didn’t like the movie – you failed to willingly suspend your disbelief even about things that are easy to explain.

  • C

    I willingly suspended my disbelief that the Peruvian ruins were really a UFO hangar…

  • Paul

    …or that the Iguazu falls were SO close to the Amazon forest…
    If you want to look for inconsistencies, you’ll find tons of them. Indy films are to be watched for fun, they are not meant for nitpicking.