Hellbeast at the Movies: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

17 10 2008

Hi everyone,

Like many people out there on the interweb,  I am a person with a blog and an opinion– Which automatically qualifies me to be a movie critic.   Now I’ve had more training beyond that but let’s not get into professional pedigrees.  Speaking of pedigrees, here is movie franchise that has been beloved by many people for many years.  A brilliant creation borrowed from cassic serial adventures by a certain bespectacled man who seems to have caught lightning in a bottle when he created this beloved cornerstone of American cinema. Of course I’m talking about Indiana Jones.   Here is my review of the latest installment of the saga.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

*SPOILERS ARE A POSSIBILITY*

As is the case with the other movies in this franchise, the film starts off with the old style paramount logo of the mountain, which then turns into another, but in this case– the mountain is a mole hill… well a gopher hill anyway.  Sadly, this is a fitting metaphor for this entire film.   It is an undersized adventure with more style than substance.  While there are grand set pieces, (Indy silhouetted by a mushroom cloud is an amazing image) they seem pointless and unmotivated.  Whereas in previous movies, Indy travels the globe to unravel a great mystery,  in this film he goes to two locations in South America, neither of which are particularly interesting. He doesn’t have to work particularly hard to get the legendary crystal skull, and ends up keeping it for most of the movie.  Where is the peril in that? It was over-reliant on CGI. (C’mon, who hasn’t seen a character eaten by CGI ants before?).   None of the villain’s were properly developed.  The dialog was stilted.  And pretending to replace Indiana with a kid named Mutt?  Don’t even think about that! Finally, the religious themes of the previous movies that worked so well for the series as a whole were totally absent.  Indiana Jones is inherently about the conflict between science and religion.  When you have Indy (the scientist) going after space aliens (science), where is the conflict in that?  The faith element is gone.  With Indy having no where to develop as a character and nothing to believe in,  I was left with nothing to believe in with this movie.

All in all the script felt like it was concieved by kids playing in their back yard.  On the bonus features of the disc,  Steven Speilberg shares his reluctance to do this project and it is abundantly clear to me why.  This story needed more development work an probably the involvement of the original screenwriter for Raiders, Lawrence Kasdan.

I realize I am being really hard on this film and that it does have a lot of merits,  but I hold it up to such a high standard because I know of what it is capable of.  It is like the straight A student getting a “C”.  ‘C’ might be average, but to me that is unacceptable.


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2 responses

19 10 2008
James

Spoiler alert??… no… its spoiled all on its own.

I saw it for the first time last night and I was quite disappointed. I would agree on all your points. I will also add, all I could think of is “Indy’s going to break his bones doing (insert action shot here)”.

I like Harrison Ford and enjoyed his acting, but its impossible to watch the movie without the distraction of “omg, he’d have so many broken bones if he did that”…. and its an ongoing distraction.

Then of course the UFO business… It just went too far… ironically however the other movies were more far reaching in- said as a compliment.

I’m certainly not one to critique story but in countless shots I was spoiling the movie to say out loud what would happen next, or how that info or item would turn up later. It was sickening how predictable it was.

A crystal skull of that size would weigh significantly more than it appeared in this movie. Why didn’t the car love tap the motorcycle into the bus? And sorry but the villainess was NOT in her “30’s” (what an unflattering uniform too). Why didn’t the snake rip in half? Why was there a stain on the back of Indy’s shirt at his house… did a zit pop? The list goes on and on… I’m upset.

The post nuclear cleansing scene made me laugh. (+1 for that)

I didn’t like that it was so futurey, and like Prof Manticore, I was shocked how simple the discovery of the skull was. A lot of shots ran on too long too…. I was really bitching about this during the fighting across the vehicles. Did I mention I’m disappointed?

It was not worth the purchase price.

Phil, rewrite the movie would you? Tie in the amazing Mayan calendar somehow. Aliens can be kept in, but appropriately so not so Chris Carter. Maybe they aren’t even a character, they are left as a mystery get the audience to believe they were potentially involved, tieing in facts about the similarity of the pyramids of egypt and mayans, and other such things.

bah.

20 10 2008
Wolfgod

I would have left the aliens an ambiguity – maybe it was aliens or maybe it was ancient Mayans. You pick.

I agree this was a weaker Indy film than the rest of the franchise, but I think it was better than Temple of Doom. Or at least on the same level as. Raiders and Crusade I liked rather a lot. Doom is pulp entertainment, which is all I think Crystal Skull is.

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