The awesome: The cast and characters rocked. A couple of great action scenes. The bit in the diner was fantastic.
Everything else: Sigh.
Huge spoilers ahead.
I’m having trouble with where to start on the new Indiana Jones flick. Like I mentioned above, the cast is awesome, and the characters rock. Having Marion back was a joy, Mutt wasn’t irritating as he could have easily been, and Indy was great as usual. (Is there anything Cate Blanchett can’t do? I don’t think so. Someone needs to film her reading from a dictionary for two hours to test my theory. I might still buy a ticket. Then again, I really like words.) As with all the Indy movies, it’s a blast just to watch them do their thing.
Sadly, the rest of the movie doesn’t really keep up with them. I was initially quite happy that Lucas wasn’t writing the movie by himself, but, while the end result isn’t quite Episode II-bad, his influence is obviously still there. The movie is constantly referencing its predecessors (and there’s even a nod to Star Wars in there with the overused “I’ve got a bad feeling about this). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they didn’t bother adding anything new to mark Crystal Skull as continuing that legacy. It’s just sort of stagnating in the old stuff. Even some of the clues are stolen (hey, let’s stand up here and look down on the floor to see the clue…again).
The big event that leads our heroes to the lost city of the skull? Indy and the skull stare at each other for a couple of minutes. Yeah.
The time period is the ’50s, amidst the Red Scare. They start to really use the political environment at the beginning, but then just completely drop it. Much of the first fifteen minutes of the film is completely irrelevant to the rest of the movie. And I’m sorry, but communists just aren’t as great at villainy as Nazis. In general, American behavior in foreign affairs has been so terrible and shameful since World War II that we don’t really come off as much better than our enemies. So they don’t really work in the black and white world of Indiana Jones.
There’s a general lack of devious traps or clever machines. There is the very cool device that allows them into entry to the final set areas of the film, but that’s really it.
The skull itself looked like it was made of aluminum foil covered in Saran Wrap.
There are very few surprises or twists in the film. Almost everything is telegraphed long before you see it. And there are the Jar Jar moments – times where you just roll your eyes and pray this ridiculousness ends soon. There are a load of other things I could nitpick, but I’ll stop before it starts sounding like I’m bitter.
In a lot of ways, I guess this one isn’t that different from the previous installments. All the films featured, so some degree, the same basic plot elements (except Temple of Doom I guess…I really need to watch that one again, though). There’s a thing. Lots of people are after it. Someone trusted betrays Indy. Adventure and hilarity ensue. But this one just didn’t deliver it with the same gusto and presentation of the earlier films.
Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t hate it. It was okay. I enjoyed myself. If I were ten, I’d think it was awesome. But I’m not sure those ten-year-olds will be watching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in twenty years and still enjoying it the way we still enjoy Raiders and Crusade today.