Monday, May 26, 2008

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Well, Indiana Jones definitely returned to theaters last Thursday. My plans to take in the picture on opening night fell through, so I didn't view it until Friday night. I really enjoyed the movie.

I admit to feeling a slight degree of trepidation before the opening credits rolled, largely because of the mixed reviews that Indy 4 had been garnering, but here is what I liked:

1) The Cold War setting, with Soviets in place of Nazis, worked equally as well as the German villains often did in the earlier Indy films.
2) The casting was much better than many reviewers indicated. Blanchett, Broadbent, Winstone, Hurt AND Shia LaBeouf were terrific additions to the Indiana Jones mythos and they all turned in standout performances. Plus, it was great to finally see Karen Allen back with Harrison Ford after all these years.

3) I'm not delving into plot issues in order to avoid spoilers, but the "supernatural" elements in this movie, while certainly different from the previous three films, DID NOT detract from this movie, DID NOT render it hokey in any way, and DID NOT seem any more far-fetched than the Biblical stuff that was used by Lucas & Spielberg in the older movies.

I felt like Crystal Skull was a very worthy follow-up to the original trilogy and I certainly do hope that we get another Jones film .... sooner rather than later. Although he was in fine form here, Harrison Ford isn't getting any younger.

The critical nitpickers online who took this film to task for, let's see: Psychic-stuff related to Blanchett's Agent Spalko character, they way over-exaggerated how much of this was actually incorporated into the movie. They also made way too much out of age-related jokes that were directed at Ford within the movie. It really wasn't at a level that would have been noticed, unless you were nitpicking for instance. And the CGI-stuff. Yeah, it was there, but I don't see that it mattered that much. This kind of thing was impossible to do in the earlier Indiana Jones movies, but again, this DID NOT detract from the movie.

I go to films like this one for fun, nostalgia and escapism and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivered all three. In spades!


Karswell said...

Well count me as one of the critical nitpickers because I loathed Crystal Skull... practically ever second of it felt tedious, rushed, over written and completely lacking in the rediscovery of what made the other Jones films so great. There was an honest heart at the center of the original 3, not only from the acting but also from the filmakers themselves. This time you could feel it, or not feel it, the cold detachement, worn out concepts struggling to entertain with ridiculous, poorly staged action scequences (how many times did they have to go over the waterfall?) and poor characterization (did you really think Karen Allen or John Hurt were used to full effect here except to stumble around behind Ford like a couple hobos?)

When I watch the original 3 I get the same sprawling epic feelings as watching the original 3 Star Wars films. But Crystal Skull feels like Phantom Menace in comparison, and it's not a nostalgia thing, it's probably more about example: filming the exciting truck chase in Raiders on location vs filming it inside a computer or against a green screen in Crystal Skull, etc... that is to say, Crystal Skull has been LUCAS'D. Too much time in between, technology is the killer, another franchise ruined.

Chuck Wells said...

Karswell, I would genuinely like to know if you thought that all of the action sequences were poorly staged.

The entire film shoot took less than 80 days, and I thought the escapism of the films action sequences at least matched Indy & friends bailing out of the plane in Temple of Doom with an inflating life raft ultimately saving them - - - only to then sail over a very high precipice. C'mon, man, it's the same type of stuff here AND nobody blinked an eye when that mind-blowing stunt was featured in Temple.

If in your opinion, Allen & Hurt weren't used to full effect, I thought both brought quite alot to their admittely limited roles.

Lucas'd or not, apparently Spielberg had a script doctor dramatically rewrite the originally approved shooting script. That's what prompted Lucas to downplay expectations prior to the films test screenings.

I don't feel like this franchise was ruined anywhere near to the extent that Star Wars was, but most fans really don't realize how far Lucas deviated from what was intended within his own extended storyline - beginning with Empire Strikes Back.

I'm sorry that you didn't like the film, but still I respect your opinion. I just don't agree with it!