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I can see why people don't like this film. Aliens are a silly premise. So are most of the action sequences. So is some of the dialogue. So is hiding in a lead fridge to avoid atomic fallout.
But then I thought about it and realized that going on a quest for a magic cup that grants eternal life is... kind of silly too. Along with freaky underground temples where you eat people's hearts, and a box full of soul-eating souls.
Which isn't a knock on the original series at all. It's a reminder that these are supposed to be radio-era adventure stories, where you encounter things in the jungle, bad guys with guns, and unusual landscapes. More Adventures of Tin Tin, less Lord of the Rings epic.
I enjoy Crystal Skull. Or I should say - it's enjoyable if you are willing to perceive it as a two hour popcorn flick to keep you entertained and then walk away from. It's not revolutionary or amazing, but it hits its beats well enough and knows what it is. There is some gorgeous scenery and some entertaining dialogue. It's not what I'd call timeless but I can enjoy its well, silliness.
Going for sci-fi was a smart move. Brilliant, even. It's twenty years later, so the idea that Indy would no longer be living a 30s adventure serial makes loads of sense and adds another internal conflict: on top of getting on in years, he has to cope with a genre he wasn't designed for and has no experience with. Throwing an Adventurer Archaeologist at a bunch of 50s aliens should be interesting, if nothing else.
The problem is that the movie has trouble sticking with this idea. It's too attached to what an Indiana Jones movie should be—exotic locales, evil Europeans, ancient artifacts, etc. Which creates a huge tonal clash: the movie expects the tropes of one genre to work, with minimal alteration, while inside another genre entirely. That's a lot to ask of the characters, let alone basic plot beats, and the movie flounders because of it, flipping wildly across the two eras while unable to plant its foot firmly in either of them.
And so the entire thing collapses in on itself, satisfying neither folks who wanted a nostalgic romp or a new take on the franchise. Just different enough to be irritating and just the same enough to feel repetitive.
I hated this movie. I hated hated hated it. I am a Huge Fan of the first three movies and saw this in the theatre. I wanted my money back.
The Aliens ending I mean come on what was with that. Indiana Jones should involve things with supernatural origins not science-fiction. So In the words of the scrubs Character Jordan Sullivan. I nothing this movie. This move never happened and there have always been only three Indiana Jones Movies.
The nuking-the-fridge scene is not only over-the-top-ridiculously-implausible even by Indy standards, but it's completely pointless. You could take that entire scene out, and it wouldn't affect the plot one iota. It's an unnecessary detour Indy makes on his first escape. Why did they even include this scene? Nothing about it looks right from any angle.
The other point that feels wrong in every way is the aliens. Lucas, why didn't you listen to Spielberg when he said the aliens were a bad idea?! It's the wrong genre! Indiana Jones has always been associated with fantasy, mythology, and religion, not sci-fi and aliens! It's like inserting aliens into an Avatar: The Last Airbender episode — it clashes too much with the established universe and its style for fans accustomed to this world to accept it. Too jarring — just way too jarring!
But if you ignore those 2 things, the rest of the film is... awesome! The performances are awesome. The action scenes are awesome. The music is awesome. Indy's and Marion's banter is awesome. Mutt is a surprisingly awesome character. The rest of the film is 100% true to the spirit of the first 3 films — the atmosphere, the tone, the dialogue, the comedy, the drama, the characters, the mystery, the pursuit of the clues, the villain who tries to loot the mind and insists on dealing with things they haven't bothered to try to understand, leading to their demise... it's all still there! Most of the movie does feel like watching a "classic" Indiana Jones film with all the things you loved about them. The action and chases and fights are exciting to watch, and the interaction between Indy and Marion and their son is also excellent to watch. It's an adventure you want to be on.
This just deepens the mystery why, when they got so much right, so many things went wrong — no, why a few things went so extremely wrong. Take out the nuking-the-fridge and the aliens, and I enjoy the rest every bit as much as I enjoyed Raiders, maybe even moreso. It's no Last Crusade, but it's better than Temple Of Doom. There are two things that make you wonder, "What were they thinking?!", but it's still definitely worth watching, and it definitely doesn't deserve to be rejected as non-canon or non-existent. It's worthy of being part of the Indiana Jones family.
It was just a shit film.
Even if it hadn't been an Indiana Jones film, with such a brilliant and well-earned reputation to live up to, it was just plain bad. The writing was very poor, the action was dull, there was no violence, the characters were derailed worse than Tara Gillespie would have written them, the atmosphere of the original films that made them so great in the first place was gone, and to top it all off it was turned into a big, dumb piece of Hollywood CGI fluff, when it could have been a much more noble and daring film, unlike the fucking bad fanfic it came across as.
This film would have been a mediocre Mummy sequel. MAYBE. Regardless it still would have sucked.
I have listed all my problems previously, but my biggest complaint is surely the way this film doesnt even feel like Indiana Jones. Where is the gratuitous violence? Where is the Body Horror inflicted upon the villian at the end? What, she turns sparkly and... floats away?! WHAT?! How does that even begin to compare with an asain guys face melting off?! Indy is barely ever called Indy in this film, which is fitting because he is a totally different character. Is his personality supposed to have aged? Because if growing old makes you lose your wit and half your IQ kill me now. The overuse of CGI is so disgusting I nearly cried. The new characters are... not worth mentioning and the old ones are uneccessary. There are some superficially Jones-esque scenes, but they are pumped up with needless fake-looking CGI and bad obnoxious acting by the stuck up Le-Bouf kid that Speilberg adores so much. By the way, he's Indy's son. Big suprise, huh? Totally matching the elegant, pitch perfect writing of the original series, right?
Also, I have no problem with Aliens. Aliens would fit perfectly in an Indy movie... but the way they are done in this piece of shit. My god. Speilberg and Lucas think we're so dumb that the reveal (OMG, ders, lyk, aliens? wtf!?) will be a shock, even though we spend the whole movie wondering how Jones is such a dumbass he cant figure it out. The aliens look lame and the entire story behind them is lame. The skull isnt even Crystal.
Dont see it. Watch the three great original films. They are really good. I love them to bits.
I understand that people hate the fridge scene. I find it ridiculous too. And the mere presence of good ol' Shiah causes major annoyance.
But as the Angry Videogame Nerd has pointed out, the Indiana Jones movies have done many ridiculous things before without casuing a fan uproar.
I think this film fell victim to unrealistic expectations. People expected another Raiders of the Lost Ark. If this was the 80s that would have been reasonable. All I went to see was a fun tribute, which is exactly what I got.
The movie is fun and has pretty good action scenes, though not the best. The plot does something a little different, veering from the strictly supernatural, while still hitting the expected notes.
Just like you would not expect Independence Day to be anything more than an awesome popcorn flick, expecting this to reach the full height of the Indiana Jones franchise would have been impossible.
That said, I still feel that this is the easiest one to rewatch after the original. Speaking of which, I should rewatch that again. Henry Jones jr. still shoots first!
1. I don't know what the plot is supposed to be. Too much (or too little?) of the film focuses on Indy's trials and tribulations at his university, and the Red Scare sweeping the country. None of it pertains to the titular skull or the upcoming quest, and Indy could have embarked on the search for Oxley whether he were employed or not — or even whether he had run into Mutt or not. Oxley is, in my opinion, a wasted character; I suspect the screenwriter was going for a neat "Stanley and Dr. Livingstone" vibe, but this was lost in the shuffle. There is just so much extraneous nonsense going on, including the mummified Spanish conquistadors (?), Blanchett's psychic powers (which do nothing) and the fat pig Mac who keeps dogging everybody around. He's about as useful as Tim Curry was in Congo, and equally greedy; if his aim was just to collect treasure, he could do it without switching sides constantly. Finally, the ending reveals that there was never any danger from the aliens or the Russkies to begin with. When your CGI reminds me of the ending to Mission To Mars, it's bad.
2. It pales in comparison with past Indy films. Five words: Law of economy of characters. Fan opinion seems to be split on Mutt. I found him out-of-place, cryptic, and bland. Can you believe it? A greaser with no discernible personality! I think the machinations of the plot became transparent for me in the scene where Mutt reveals that he's an aristocratic preppie with a knowledge of fencing. Indiana Jones ends up becoming a supporting character in his own film. I don't remember him doing that much; he just reacts to his surroundings and tries not to die.
3. Fails as a standalone film and a nostalgia film. If you take away the Indiana Jones mythos, this is a very mediocre family-friendly romp that could easily star Nicholas Cage or The Rock. Factoring in the nostalgia, however, I couldn't connect with Indy because he only vaguely resembles his past persona. Not just his age and weather-beaten behavior, but his whole character. Granted, Indiana Jones is not exactly Hamlet. But Indy seems like he'd really prefer to just kick back and retire, and while this is an interesting starting point, I kept waiting for the old Jonesian audacity to flare up again.
I really enjoyed this movie when I first saw it in the theaters. I had no idea about how much hate there was towards it for several years. (Yeah, I don't get out much.) It's not without its flaws, but some people way over emphasize the negative in this case.
I might as well start with what I liked. Setting the movie in the fifties not only covered for Harrison Ford's age, but allowed for a distinct feel to this film as compared to the previous ones. Indy's entrance in silhouette and the majority of the opening sequence culminating with the rocket car was great fun and excitement. In fact, the action scenes were great all around. Indy getting blacklisted made for an interesting scene or two, even if it ultimately had little bearing on the plot. The callbacks were pretty good, especially the part about getting out of the library. I felt the Russians made for great bad guys, and that Colonel Doctor Spalko's plan of mind controlling and brainwashing vast numbers of people was probably the most nefarious plot in the series, since it entails far scarier concepts than Nazis being generally evil. Mola Ram's plan of conquest comes close, but lacks the true horror of being changed against your will.
Now, my issues with the film are fewer in number. I'll start with a small one. The fridge is a flaw, I'll admit, but for different reasons than most people put forward. It comes after the awesome rocket car scene which was a great climax to an epic action sequence. It just feels out of place and it wasn't necessary to go so over the top when the rocket car scene was over the top in a completely awesome way. Another problem I have is with the character of Mac. We know nothing about this guy, and very little of his history with Indy. He turns evil way too soon, something which would have been more effective with a character we already knew. The double agent bit just came across as plain lazy writing to me, which only compounds the problems with the Mac character.
I'm fairly neutral towards Shia La Boeuf. I'm not a raving fan, but I think he gets an unfair level of hatred. The aliens I have no problem with whatsoever. The focus of the series has always been on archeological mysteries, and the ancient astronauts theory fits in perfectly. Look it up.
Overall, it's not as good the first three, but still a fitting entry in the series.
While I never thought the Star Wars prequels were as bad as people made them sound, I could always understand why the franchise's older fans didn't like them. They weren't terrible, but there WAS a noticeable drop in quality. The fourth Indiana Jones movie seems to have gained similar reaction from much of its fanbase, but here, I honest to God don't understand what they're complaining about, because I think Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an awesome movie, and certainly a much nobler effort than the Star Wars prequels. I actually think some people just hate George Lucas so blindly that no matter what he does, if he's involved in ANYTHING, it automatically sucks.
I'm not bothered all that much by aliens in an Indy movie. I mean, sure, it wasn't what I was expecting when I stepped into the movie theatre, but they don't even show up until at the end, and up until then, they might as well have been looking for anything. The main plot of the movie isn't the aliens, it's the relationships between the main characters, Indy, Mutt and Marion. The TV Tropes page may finger Mutt as a Scrappy, but I disagree. I found Mutt to be a likeable character, and as someone who needs to get accustomed to adventuring outside the big city, he was certainly much better pulled off than Willie Scott from Temple of Doom (not that I would really want to see a spin-off featuring him, though). One of the things I like most about the movie is that I feel it made for a satisfying ending to the films as a whole, what with Indiana and Marion reconciling and getting married.
I do have some problems with this movie, though. Aside from nitpicking single scenes like the fridge-nuking scene or the monkey-swinging scene, I found the character Mac poorly characterized. When he betrays Indy, Indy is clearly hurt since he and Mac have been friends for so long. But the audience has never seen Mac before, so his betrayal has no emotional impact whatsoever. For the rest of the movie, Mac doesn't seem sure whether he's a Jerk With A Heart Of Gold Anti Hero or a backstabbing Jerkass. I'm not even sure whether his death was supposed to invoke Redemption Equals Death or not.
Overall, I still think the films ups easily outnumber the downs. It's not perfect, and it's not exactly Indiana Jones at his best, but it's still enjoyable, and a worthy conclusion to the Indy films.
Hearing John Williams’ seven-note trumpet theme and seeing Ford back in that creased leather jacket, battered fedora and wielding a bullwhip after so long is exciting to almost anyone, since the character is such a pop culture icon. A strong point is that film acknowledges the passing of the years, with Grail-hunting Nazis giving way to Reds seeking power over minds.
The cast generally appears to be having a blast. Karen Allen's return as Marion helps maker stronger connections to the original, Cate Blanchett relishes the chance to be an excellent Large Ham and Harrison Ford's constant "here we go again" expression is sure to put a smile on the faces of audience.
For those who remember the era, the flick has a wonderfully nostalgic 50's flavour, what with McCarthyism, old-fashioned diners and greaser gangs, nuclear testing and the fascination with science fiction that’s more “fiction” than “science”. It’s also excellent exposure for today’s generation to peek into a time when muscle cars, leather jackets, pleated skirts and knitwear sweaters were all the rage.
Even though most of the stories in the Indy franchise are rather far-fetched, they are still somewhat built upon historical relics or well-known legends. Any reference to ancient civilizations in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is simply cleverly-conceived conjecture. This makes the movie decidedly, as my Dad so put it so succinctly, “un-Indy” for me.
Famous for overusing computer graphics imagery (CGI) in the much-derided Star Wars prequels, George Lucas does the same here, despite earlier promises that the movie would be an old-fashioned adventure yarn. While it is not as noticeable as in The Phantom Menace, the use of CGI is almost just as excessive - what made the first three movies special were the innovative effects in an age before CGI, and spectacular sequences that still hold up to scrutiny today.
All in all, the film is a fun ride that never lets up and has many enjoyable instances. As a big Indy fan, it pains me to say this: but with just as many a weak moment, it’s not the 65-year old Ford that buckles at the knees, but the story’s core that does so instead.
RATING: 3/5 STARS
By Jedd Jong
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