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Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted by rapaleeman on May 28, 2008

Let me preface by saying that yes, I am an Indy fan.  Even with this fact out there this review is not going to be pretty.  Onward we go.

So this is the fourth movie in the Indy franchise (I refuse to re-type the title and I am too lazy to cut and paste, deal with it) and with that comes the typical swashbuckling crusade on dry land that Dr. Henry Jones Jr. is known for.  There is action, comedy, drama, suspense, well maybe not the last two.

The best parts of the movie are when Indy is on-screen being Indy.  He is and always has been a wise-cracking super smart professor that would get himself way over his head.  That runs true here and to be honest it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Sure there are some sweet action scenes and the stunt doubles do a fairly decent job, but the chase through the jungle is terrible and the pivotal scenes are just so far out there that it completely hangs itself with what little bit of Indy’s famous whip there actually is in the movie.

Without giving anything away this movie is out there.  Both literally and metaphorically.  This particular franchise has always suspended belief, but not reality.  Most of the ideas behinds the movies are soild facts with a paranormal-type of explanation.  It’s what made them fun (like the first National Treasure movie, but not the second, it was terrible).  Essentially you could legitimately believe what was happening in the film and play along with the Jones as he discovered what the hell was going on.

Not in this one folks.  I got lost about 20 minutes in and the opening of the movie is just crap.  It doesn’t even feel like an Indiana Jones movie.  That doesn’t start until almost a 1/3 of the way in.  Part of the issue is Spielberg and Lucas thinking bigger = better.  Not here it isn’t.  There is so much CGI that this is just unbelievable completely.  Did we need CGI in Star Wars and Transformers?  Yes since they were both fantastical (is that a word) franchises.  Not in Indy.  Practical has always been better (hence the Experience at MGM Studios) and when the stunt doubles are going at it I was glued to my seat.  When the waterfalls and random Mayan dudes show up I was counting down the time for the credits.

Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones.  No question how old he gets, he is the man.  Much like Stallone is still Rambo and Rocky, or Bruce Willis is John McClane, Ford pulls off the age well, though he does sound a little more cynical with his speach.  I swear I heard and saw Han Solo for a few minutes here.  Not a bad thing, but definately uneven for such a great actor.  Shia (however you spell his name, the kid from Transformers and I,Robot) is not that bad as, well I won’t spoil it but if you think about it, you already know who he is and why he is in the movie.  A few others make some good extended cameos from the previous films and some of their dialogue with the Jones is actually great.  The only problem is Cate Blanchett.  Great actress, terrible role.

I think that is the whole problem with this film.  There is so much you can do with this franchise and honestly they didn’t know what direction to take it in.  Do you stay grounded, or go bigger?  The dynamic duo tried to do both and in term almost ruined the film for me.  The last five minutes are epic (and they don’t have any action in it go figure) and will make you grin and at least feel somewhat ok that you just sat through one of the most ludicrous movies you have ever seen. 

If your an Indy fan your going to see it.  Shut up, you are.  I’m tired of people saying they won’t.  You will.  The question is should you?  The answer is yes definately since even though the chapter in this saga is really bad, the ending to the story (or is it?) is really worth it.  You learn about a few key characters and why Indy is who he is.  Also how much his father has actually impacted him in his present life.  It’s weird, Connery isn’t in the movie (not really) but his spirit and precense is all over Ford and his character.  Ultimately that is why you should see this movie.  Indiana Jones.  The man named after the dog.  Dr. Henry Jones Jr.  Part-time professor, full-time badass and explorer.  He as a character evolves here much like Rocky Balboa does in the movie of the same name.  Old, but not too old and never forgetting who he once was and who is now.

This is getting a Recommended for that fact.  Not because it is a good movie.  It really isn’t, but because of the spirit and characters it contains.  And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing Indy back for number 5 if only to allow for him to finish on a high note.  This franchise deserves that much.



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