Movie: "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull"
Genre: Action / Adventure
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Writing credits: David Koepp, George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson
Plot: Indiana Jones dusts off his fedora and bullwhip for one last adventure, joined by friends old and new as they track down a Mayan artifact that is also sought after by the Russians.
Review: Well, at least Cate Blanchett was hot.
I had debated making that statement my entire review, but a movie as insanely disappointing as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull deserves to be knocked around for a while. I went into this film with as few expectations as possible, knowing right off the bat that it couldn't possibly match Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade, but I figured if it was at least on par with Temple of Doom in terms of entertainment, I'd walk away happy. I ended up walking out of the theater with an empty feeling inside, the same feeling that I left the Star Wars prequels with. Don't worry, this movie isn't that bad, but they really should've left well enough alone.
The fact of the matter is, when you close out a series not just on a high note, but on a fucking perfect note, as they did with Last Crusade, you'd better not come back to the table if your next script idea isn't so good that Jesus himself doesn't ride down from the clouds on a chariot made of rainbows and give it his blessing, especially if you wait nearly twenty years to do it. If this film had been the third in the series and Last Crusade had been the fourth (story elements making the swap impossible notwithstanding), Crystal Skull would merely have been the low point in an otherwise-excellent series. As it stands, however, the new film is a horrible blemish that absolutely should not exist, and it forever ruins the perfect bookend that once closed out one of my favorite series of all time.
Without getting into spoilers, there's one scene involving a statue of a character from the previous films that the Russians end up defacing, and annoying newcomer Mutt Williams (awful name) laughs as he sees this, to Indy's chagrin. This brief moment in the film is perfectly symbolic of the movie as a whole and what it does to the rest of the series.
Don't get me wrong, the movie does have a few fun moments, but the whole thing feels so utterly lacking for an Indy movie that when you compare it to the original three it doesn't even come close to stacking up. One of the biggest things it falls short on is having any of the wonderful character moments that were so prominent in the older films (particularly the first and last). These characters are so busy rushing around on their wild goose chase that they never have a chance to really be developed at all. We have a new Indy here, with twenty new years of life experience under his belt, and instead of making his age a poignant, moving element of the story touching on themes like loss and regret (which, given one major revelation that everybody had guessed beforehand anyway, you'd think he should be feeling), we get a bunch of cheap age gags instead. What could have had some actual depth (and for all the fact that they are basically fun popcorn adventure films, the original films did have depth) was instead turned into a piece of mere fluff that will be forgotten by next summer, completely devoid of the elements that have made the originals endure for so long.
The film also relies too heavily on CGI, which seems completely out of place in an Indy film, and at the end of the movie, all subtlety is totally thrown out the window, showing us something incredibly inane that would have been far more effective if it had remained (mostly) unseen. The film lacks subtlety early on too: in the opening warehouse chase, there is a completely unnecessary sight gag involving something stored in the warehouse. Anyone who's seen the first film is fully aware of what's in the warehouse--they even play a familiar music cue from Raiders, which made me smile--right up to the point where they hit us over the head with it by showing it, as if to say "we think you're too stupid to figure this out on your own".
There's a scene early on where Indy lives through something that he couldn't possibly survive in the manner that he does, and Spielberg asks us to suspend our disbelief too far for no good reason, as there is a much more logical way they could have gotten him out of the situation, given that secret passages are kind of a staple to the series. It would have changed literally NOTHING in the story save for making it more acceptable and believable, so why they chose to handle it so stupidly is a mystery to me.
Even the most enjoyable parts of the film, like the jungle chase, went out of their way to add strong elements of Suck to them, just in case you might have actually been starting to have a good time. The jungle scene was fine right up until it got a bit too slap-sticky, and then the single dumbest moment of the movie (which I'm betting was George Lucas's idea) happened, which could not have been dumber if Jar Jar Binks jumped in front of the screen doing a song-and-dance number holding a hat and cane. The whole film feels dumbed down for modern audiences, and Mutt Williams, who is supposed to represent the next generation of heroes, with his lack of education and disdain for "smarts" reflects that all too well.
Indy film plots have always centered around McGuffins, but this one is so out of place for an Indy film that I would have known it was Lucas's idea even if it hadn't been confirmed in interviews. Word has it that this version of the story is far more toned down than his original "wackier" idea. I shudder to think what the film could've been if Spielberg and Ford didn't have enough collective weight to throw around to temper some of his worse ideas. I certainly can't blame Lucas for the entirity of the story, because it was a group effort, but there's no denying that the lamest elements of the story have his stink all over them.
I suppose what's most disappointing to me is that Indy himself didn't really do anything that awesome in this movie--he just kind of seems to be going along for the ride, almost bored with the events happening around him. I recently wrote a list of Indy's Top Ten Finest Moments, and I'm disappointed to say that nothing in this new film makes it onto that list. And for an Indiana Jones movie, that is a fucking travesty.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
Nick: I think this was a 'bridge movie' but unfortunately, they are going to use LeBeef as the "new Indy" AKA Indy Jr.
|I genuinely expected when the doors blew open that the blue shimmering ghost of Sean Connery would be standing there. And he say something hackneyed like, "Well done, Junior."|
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