Sunday, June 15, 2008

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull - Full Review

I think it's good that Hollywood is running out of truly original ideas. In the not so distant future we won't have any original movies, we'll just have book, video-game, toy and comic adaptations for the big screen and remakes of existing movies (even black and white ones) using modern technology and fresh faces. We'll also have at least 20 sequels per movie if the franchise can support it like it has with James Bond. Of course you must have an extraordinary gap between different versions of the same movie for it to be sucessful say 20 years minimum, but a sequel should be in cinemas at most 4 years after it's predecessor. However, recently there's been a trend in Hollywood to create a fourth outing to a classic trilogy far in excess of that four years- Die Hard 4.0 was released last summer, 12 years after Die Hard: With A Vengeance and was one of the best action movies of the year. Sly Stallone resurrected John Rambo 20 years later for a fourth outing and God, Spielberg and Ford have got together to bring us a fourth Indiana Jones adventure.

I will say out of the three latest outings for these aged franchises, Indiana Jones is probably the weakest in terms of the original formula which made it a success. John McClane was still a wisecracking punchbag 12 years later and Rambo was still singlehandedly taking on entire armies 20 years later, but almost 20 years after we say him riding into the sunset, poor 'ol Indiana Jones was old, really, really old, and he needed a lot of help to get through a CGI infested Amazonian jungle.

As a result of Ford's age, this did not feel like a true Indiana Jones movie, it had to be set in the 1950's and unfortunately, that was some of the problem - because I missed the Nazi's too much. There was a lot of quaint references to the original trilogy in the form of name dropping-and photographs, it felt like Spielberg was attempting to remind us that this was in Indy movie with a rich cinematic history.

The McGuffin (as Lucas is so fond of calling it), The Crystal Skull is about as mysterious as Arthur C. Clarke would have made it sound and I wasn't impressed by it's origins in the end. In fact the whole end was seriously flawed. I don't think that that level of science fiction had any place in Indiana Jones as the franchise's previous success was based on religious mysticism.

I know it sounds like this is getting a slating, but these were my only issues with the movie and I'll not dwell on them anymore. The rest of the movie is fantastic. It's rich in the dialog and sense of adventure that is the staple of the genre. The chase sequences out-do anything that was done before namely due to the awesome leaps Lucas himself has pioneered, transforming modern cinema with convincing CGI and special effects over the years.

The characters and acting were top notch. It was great to see Karen Allen (for whom the years have been very, very kind) return as Marian Ravenwood and sill as feisty as she was in Raiders. The newcomer, Mutt Williams played by Shia LeBeuf was not a character I feared since LeBeuf's excellent performance in the greatest movie of the decade - Transformers and was a welcome addition to the cast. The remainder of the ensemble, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Cate Blanchett obviously had some serious fun playing roles vastly different from the norm, and it showed in the quality of their performances.

The Indiana Jones movies would be bland affairs were it not for the quality of their music. Star Wars composer, Maestro John Williams has achieved one of the crowning moments of his career by updating the music for Indiana Jones, but as he did with the recent Star Wars prequel trilogy, retained all the elements of what made the scores unique, yet familiar to fans of the franchise.

Unlike the Star Wars prequels, A fourth Indy was not a necessity for God to make but don't tell me you didn't think "Hell Yeah!" once Indy cracked his whip. You can't help but being impressed by the work of God.

Final Verdict: Despite being a bit loo long in coming with seriously flawed ending, it has secured a place in my DVD collection, surpassed the weakest of the original trilogy, The Temple Of Doom for sheer entertainment value and will no doubt be a highlight of the summer movie experience.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2


Anonymous said...

don't tell me you didn't think "Hell Yeah!" once Indy cracked his whip. Not all of us are into that sort of thing Lt.Col.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I totally thought that. I might have even said that. More in the "He's still got it!" sense of the expression. I noticed in the trailer he's shown with his hat on. Thus I was not prepared for when he took it off.

Douglas Kastle said...

Hmmm a little bit generous with 4 1/2 stars. There were some fun elements in the movie but I felt, for the first time, just let go (Indian, let it go!). While it is cool to see Ford back, and at times he really pulls it off. The story and elements let him down. Obviously starting with the fridge, followed by the monkeys, the tarzan bit and the waterfalls.

Also was it me or did hardly anybody call him Indy or Indiana! Who is this Henry dude!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this was less of an Indiana Jones movie than a movie with Indiana Jones in it. Could it have been a deliberate move by Spielberg & God?, by subtly playing down Ford's iconic character by minimizing the use of the famous name in order not to overshadow Shia leBeuf's character and the continuation of the series?

Lieutenant General Creedon said...

@ Civvy: Well I AM and you're missing out on a great experience :)

@ Constance: Oh, yes, erm... that what I really meant too. Yes... I was joking before. Heh!

@ Doug: As a basic adventure movie it may have gotten 3.5 for having a hokey plot but it being a Henry Jones Jr. movie, it had to get an extra star for nostalgia and coolness.

@ Civvy (again): Do you find conspiracy under your fingernails when you wash your hands?

Anonymous said...

Lt.Col, Yes and what have you got to hide?

Anonymous said...

He had to have more of a "Henry Jones Junior" persona because of the... progression of his character.