Thursday, May 29, 2008

My 2 on Indy 4

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Release: 05.22.2008
Rated PG-13

2 hours, 4 minutes

***Updated Rating - 06.02.2008***
For Fans: Second-Run Seats ($$)
For Moviegoers: Full Price ($$$$) <> Matinee ($$$)


Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford), after a run in with the Russians and their leader Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, The Gift), is scrutinized by the government during the height of the McCarthy communist scare. While departing for greener pastures, a young greaser by the name of Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf, Constantine) brings word that two of Indy's dear friends, 'Ox' (John Hurt, Hellboy) and Mari Williams ( Karen Allen, Raiders of the Lost Ark), have been kidnapped to help the Russians uncover the lost Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; or what people know as El Dorado. Indiana changes course, with Mutt in tow, to save his friends and perhaps uncover the secret behind the City of Gold.

I've debated a dozen different ways of writing this review. I started to just read the myriad of other posts and simply highlight those with similar views to mine. However, the handful of you that come here come looking for my opinion, so here it goes:

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a satisfying installment in the life and times of Indiana Jones. By that I mean it satisfies the unspoken requirements of an Indy-level event; it's got the love interest, the sidekicks, the villains of the era, the larger-than-life action sequences inflated just beyond believability. These ingredients, plus his hat and whip, fuel another mystic quest of religious origin. Rumor has it director Steven Spielberg (War of the Worlds) even kept the quality of special effects in place so that Crystal Skull would feel more akin to its predecessors. That was problem number one for me. As an audience, our palates have seasoned over the last twenty years. Seeing an action film, especially one that thrives on being just on the outrageous side of plausible, is totally off-putting when it doesn't look real. As a viewer I can forgive a film made twenty-five years ago because its creators worked with what they had, but it's disappointing when the power is available and unused. I mean, damn, Lucas spent years polishing the old Star Wars, so why not give the Indiana Jones series a spit-shine?

I can forgive directorial prerogative and enjoy the spectacle and excitement. But what happened to the story development? The human element so familiar to the previous installments seems more of an afterthought. Revelations of, and reunions with, Indiana's past are squeezed into the crannies of the action, a complete detriment to the series's appeal. It's a shame because the actors are giving it their all. If you aren't going to give the character's history proper respect, then don't bother adding it to the story.

Dirty Undies
Over the years, the Indiana Jones films have gotten slimmer and slimmer in the categories of brutal violence and sex appeal, and Crystal Skull keeps up the kid-friendly trend. There's loads of bare-knuckle fighting and harrowing chases, but none of the associated bloodshed you'd imagine from the confrontations. It's easily the least violent and most chaste of the series.

The Money Shot
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
is a worthy addition into the annals of the Indiana Jones chronology. I know it doesn't sound like it, through my nitpicking, but I loved Crystal Skull from a pure summer-movie standpoint. The inevitable comparison of the film to its brethren exposes the mystery of the Crystal Skull to be a rather weak story with a glossed-over footnote of Indiana's personal history. Simply put, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull meets the expectations of those who grew up with Dr. Jones but it does little to impress a new generation of Indiana followers.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. You've seen my thoughts - I totally disagree on the final rating you gave this. So many people (not necessarily you) have given this a free pass as an "entertaining ride" - I guess I had higher expectations, despite my best efforts to temper them. I'll give it some time and watch it when it hits HBO or whatever, but I can't see my liking it any more then. We'll see...

  2. To add to my defense, I plan on seeing this again this weekend (time permitting) and it may stumble down the ratings block like Baby Mama did.

    Expectation plays hell on a one word summation, then again so does vine swinging Tarzan stunts...hmm, maybe I was too generous.

  3. I grew up with Indy and Crystal Skull did not meet my expectations at all. I saw both The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade in theater. Crystal Skull is not even HALF as good as the other films. Like you said, the human element was an after-thought and it showed.They could have thrown in a grown-up Short-Round and he would have been underdeveloped as well. It would have been cool though.
    Crystal Skull's poor quality is the major reason why I will not review it. That and my disappointment. 450 words is too much to waste on this film. I'd give this film a 3 out of 10 if I did review it, the lowest score I have ever given to a film. I give DOA: Dead or Alive a higher score than I would give to this film. I'll review Alien vs Predator: Requiem again before I review Crystal Skull. Besides, I wrote my major thoughts about this film in my post ( )already. :)

  4. I half-expected an adult Short-Round to appear, you know Indy's other wayward son.

    3 out of 10 and DOA is higher than Indy!? I enjoyed DOA, but Eric Roberts's Shades of Kung Fu Power trumps Indy's Crystal Skull?

    DOA did have better fights and hotter women, I'll give you that.

  5. I knew what DOA was going to be when I watched it. I expected FAR more from Indy 4 and was completely disappointment.

  6. I agree, I liked the action sequences and nearly nothing else and they were enough to satisfy me to some extent - they're just not enough to put this on par with the previous Indies.

    The final rating is a bit confusing though, it seems like you loved it dearly. Does your rating system have any other sort of explanation to it that we don't know?

  7. @film-book: So true. I expected little more than hot chicks kicking butt in DOA and goal met! I actually never expected much from Indy 4, so maybe that's why I was more forgiving.

    @anil: I admit my rating is confusing. While reviewing Sex & the City I've added more dimension to my ratings, one I've only used rarely. I think it comes in handy for sequels like S&C and Indy. I have updated the Indy review as well so that it makes more sense.

    I hope my fickle ratings can be forgiven.