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Published on May 27th, 2008 | by Erich Becker

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Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Nineteen years of waiting, waiting for all the stars to align, waiting for a script to get approved, waiting for what seems like forever, and this is what we get: a huge resounding relief that the movie has finally been released followed by unbridled disappointment in the finished product. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will no doubt go down as the biggest disappointment of the summer for many, this reviewer included, as the film loses most of, if not all, the fun of the original trilogy and what we are left with is a CGI mess with a weak story, weaker acting, no resounding villain, and the feeling that maybe we shouldn’t have hoped over the years for a fourth film, just like Star Wars fans today wish the prequel trilogy had never materialized.

 

The film was supposed to be foolproof, a script by David Koepp, approved by George Lucas (as much credit as that really is), directed by Steven Spielberg, and starring Indy himself, Harrison Ford. Unfortunately no matter of critical pedigree and talent was going to be able to save this film from the aspects which doomed it.

The setup is interesting, although drastically misleading as Indy and a group of communist era Soviets visit a very familiar looking warehouse with a giant “51” painted on the door. Here we think they are going for the Ark, only then do we find out what they are really after, and that’s where the wheels begin to fall off as the MacGuffin here just isn’t that interesting with so many more choices on the table. Everything from Atlantis to the Spear of Destiny was suggested by the review party who attended the screening only to be left with, well, to keep this as spoiler free as possible I won’t say, but you can put two and two together.

 

From here we are subjected to one outlandish display after another until the movie concludes with the biggest one of all. The origins of Indy are based in the radio and early TV serial dramas like Buck Rogers, so the outlandish has to be expected, but the suspension of disbelief only goes so far. One can explain away Indy hanging from a tank or being dragged behind a truck in the original trilogy, but we’ve now devolved into being propelled miles in a refrigerator (lined with lead) after a nuclear blast, or the ability for a teenager to swing like Tarzan to catch up to cars going 50 mph or faster? You almost have to laugh because it’s so bad at times.

The only thing that saves Kingdom is those involved and some okay scenes between the aging Indy (Harrison Ford) and Mutt (Shia LaBeouf). The inclusion of Karen Allen as Marion seems almost forced as she isn’t present in the first half of the movie and has little to do in the latter besides forcing some really bad dialog and giving us a groan inducing ending.

 

George Lucas’ CGI stained hands are all over this film, whereas traditionalists, and even just fans of the franchise would have liked to see the live action stunts, here a lot of the film is handled by computers, taking away some of the awe and fun of the original trilogy, when you knew that was a real person being dragged, or a real person fighting those battles.

 

In the end, everything combines into a merely mediocre package that is sure to disappoint anyone who holds a fond place in their heart for any of the original films. You can see sparks of enchantment once again throughout the two hour running time, but in the end, you really wish things had been much different, and maybe we shouldn’t have clamored as much, or as loud, for a new entry in the series.

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About the Author

Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!



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