Friday, June 27, 2008

Film Review: Indiana Jones at the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I actually have several movies I could review, and three movies I got from Netflix with the intent of reviewing, but I thought I'd get back in the saddle after my inexplicable absence on Fridays by talking about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yeah, I'm a month late. I honestly don't get out of the house that often, and when I do, I don't like driving to the theater and spending all that money. As a result, even the movies I really want to see I end up putting off for weeks at a time. Well, onward!

I love Indiana Jones. That hardly makes me unique. I recently rewatched the first three movies, and I realized some things about the series. For one thing, by most objective standards, they're not good films. Honestly, the plots are nonsensical, and the action scenes are completely over the top. In Raiders and Last Crusade, Indiana could have stayed home and none of the bad stuff would have happened. Well, his father might have eventually died at the hands of the Nazis, but he seemed okay with that fate as long as the Nazis didn't get the grail. Anyway, that didn't make me love the movies any less. I just recognize them for what they are, accept that, and enjoy them (mainly because of Harrison Ford, I'll admit).

Having said that, I believe The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a pretty good installment in the series. There were a few things I didn't like. For example, I think there were too many new characters that didn't have the time/space they needed to become fully formed characters. This isn't a problem the other movies had. It felt like there were a lot of faces we never saw before and had even less reason to care about.

From here on in, there are going to be some minor spoilers. be warned if you haven't seen the film.

I like the parts of the movie that deal with characters and names we already know. Marian and Abner Ravenwood (and Mutt). I can deal with the introduction of John Hurt's character (and he did a great job). I feel like everything to do with spies and spying and double crossing should be removed. The more I think about it, the more I think Mac and all that had no place in the movie. Indiana Jones isn't a spy, and we never needed the added element of double-crossing to make the movies interesting. I know that thematically it played into the paranoia and fear during the Fifties, but hell, we already had Cate Blanchett's character for that, and her motivations. Having Mac just felt like lazy writing, which shouldn't surprise me said George Lucas is the laziest man alive and he did the story and produced the thing (as an aside, thank God for Steven Spielburg. I don't like all his movies, but at least he can keep a leash (and muzzle) on Lucas or George Mucus as I call him).

The action scenes were way, way over the top, even for Indiana Jones. I'm torn on them. I felt like they just went a little too far, but then, that's what Indiana Jones is all about.

I know lots of people didn't like the alien aspect, but I honestly don't find those any more ridiculous than a radio to God, a grail that grants supposedly eternal life, and a religion that includes tearing somebody's still beating heart and then showing it to him before he dies by fire. My husband and sister thought it was a little heavy on the "knowledge is power" theme, but isn't that the other point of Indiana Jones? He's not stronger than the bad guy. He's not bigger than the bad guy. He's not even faster than the bad guy. But he is smarter.

Overall, I give it a B. I think in the future people won't be as dismissive of it as Temple of Doom (which I actually love) but they won't love it as much as Raiders of the Lost Ark or even The Last Crusade.

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