Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

October 27, 2009 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Breaking with the format a little but I felt like this movie deserved to be discussed. I heard all the bad reviews, some down right vicious against the 4th Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So I took the leap and thanks to a very reasonable price, I was able to complete my Indiana Jones collections and finally see what everyone was hollering about.  So, was Indiana Jones raped, as they stated on South Park? Raped is a strong word, although I loved that episode. I would say he was fondeled inapproprietely.

I didn’t hate this movie. And I will avoid spoilers. But then again, I am the last person to have seen this movie. Chances are, you have heard the same complaints I have about this film. I will tell you where they were right and where they might have misstep. The beginning with the nuclear bomb is ridiculous. Here is why. You can’t ask an audience to buy too much at once. In comedy, you can wear a funny hat and its funny. But if you put a funny hat on top of a funny hat, its too much. Can I buy that Indy can survive a nuclear explosion from hiding a fridge? No but I can forgive it, the same way I forgave Indy riding a raft off a cliff in Temple of Doom. What I can’t forgive is how he walks out of the fridge on the outskits of a nuclear explosion and looks at it. All they wanted was that image of Indy stand on the doorsteps of the nuclear age. Is it a great image? Yes. Is it neccessary? No.

The second thing people complain about that I agree with is the greaser monkeys and Mutt Williams swinging through the jungle like Tarzan. It’s a CGI, unrealistic looking mess. Why have monkeys with greaser haircuts? Do they have styling moose in the depths of the jungle? Do they keep up with current fashions? They are CGI monkeys! It’s just ridiculous! That whole chase scene bothered me. Marion giving Mutt fencing tips while he is straddling two jeeps.  It’s that unneccassary comedy that happens a lot in newer films that take away from dramatic tension instead of adding to it. The CGI in most of the chase seen bugs me because it’s like seeing the zipper on the back of the monster in the old days of 50’s creature features. Lord of the Rings did the best job of hiding CGI of any movie I have ever seen.  Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, it made me roll my eyes. The jungle chase scene was the one that really stands out in my mind where they just tried to do too much with the technology.

The last thing that I have heard mentioned a lot was the continuity on the Crystal Skull.  It seems to be magnetic only when it needs to be for the story. Right when we first see the skull, Indy finds it with gun powder. Smart. Then Indy is surrounded by communists. They fire at him and the skull seems to have no interest in attracting the guns and bullets that the communists are firing at Indy. It happens a lot in the movie but that first scene is a big hole.

What I didn’t have a problem with is the concept of aliens being in an Indiana Jones movie. The aliens are only at the end so it’s not like They Live or something like that, where Indy is fighting aliens around every corner. Mostly, Indy is fighting communists and tribes people. The first series of movies was a take on old 30’s adventure serials.  What they tried to do with this one was push it from the 30’s into the 50’s. The 50’s had a lot of science fiction, alien themed movies. So it only makes sense that since Indy is older now, we change the theme from the 30’s style movie into the 50’s style movie. From what I gather, the Crystal Skull is something of an old legend, so they based it on “real” myths and legends. Nothing wrong there.

I felt like the movie was its most effective when it was trying to be like an Indiana Jones movie. What I mean by that is when Indy is getting his ass kicked and cheated out of his rightful victory by the enemies, it works for me. I like how he finds victory in defend and uses cunning to live to fight another day or at least win in the end. When Indy is bumping around temples, solving riddles and puzzles, it works for me. That’s what I paid to see and that is satifying. And I felt that him going through all this with his own son, Mutt, was effective. It bookended, somewhat, with Last Crusade. Also, Mutt is a bright but inexperienced kid. So it is good in a story telling aspect that Indy has someone with him that he can explain things to and it doesn’t come off as exposition,even though thats what it is. I like hearing Indy’s explaination about what is going on but in writting, you have to be very careful about how you do it. I felt like they did as good of a job in this movie of feeding the audiene information as they did in the other ones.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull really wasn’t that bad. Is it better than Road House. Meh. Maybe right around the same level. I don’t know if I will watch this movie as often as I do Road House or any of the previous three films. I’m not part of the Shia LeBeouf hate club. I thought he did fine. Harrison Ford and everyone else did well. Other than some obvious and cheesy CGI, the movie works pretty well. I would have liked if the communists were as threatening as the Nazi’s were in Raiders and Last Crusade. But they were an ok villian. Maybe I have just seen a lot of really bad movies or maybe this movie isn’t nearly as horrible as I was lead to believe. It’s an Indiana Jones movies and outside of a couple of bad moments, I had fun.

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