The original Indiana Jones venture managed to be original, while also paying homage to 1930s serials. It was tightly wound, witty, and even thoughtful. We could learn something from a movie like that and about why movies like that are great. That movie, was created in 1981 by men with something to prove. Those men, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, became legends, and it's an incredible mystery that the same minds could hand us this 2008 wreck. I doubt if Raiders of the Lost Ark could even be made today without UFOs, or product placement, canned lines, or stock characters. Hollywood would never let it escape in such sincere form.
Crystal Skull is the 2008 version of Indy and it's a bloated mess, amped up and hyped out. Tired, formulaic, and interminable. It's modern, sloppy, lifeless summer schlock, and on that level it does just fine, but Brendan Frasier belongs here, not Harrison Ford. It's not a bad movie because it's no Raiders, it's just a bad movie, and compared to this movie, Raiders seems as rare and untouchable as the lost Ark itself.