Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Spoilers follow)

I wanted to like this movie. I really did. I love the other Indy movies--the old-fashioned premise, the artifacts full of mystical powers, the impossibly over-the-top yet still rooted in reality action sequences. I especially love that Indy's success isn't due to his fearlessness or physical strength (though he does manage to draw on those qualities when necessary), but rather his ability to solve riddles. Smart and sexy--there is a reason why I've long had a crush on Indiana Jones. (I also have a wildly inappropriate crush on 21-year old Shia LeBoeuf, so I was doubly excited to see this movie.)

Parts of "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" worked. It was great to see Marian Ravenwood again and she and Indy have just as much chemistry as ever. The movie had great and convincing fun with Harrison Ford's age. I also like that more screen time was given to Indy-as-college professor, though that may simply because I think college profs are cool. (By the way, where does Indy teach? The movie is set shortly after WWII, in the 1950s. There were women and black students on his campus.)

So much didn't work. The artifact in this movie, the crystal skull, which so obviously belongs to an alien (the movie pretends there is suspense around this fact, but there really isn't at all) is wildly out of place in the Indyverse. The last 30 minutes of the movie are like some weird parody of an Indiana Jones movie. The tone is cmpletely off and the very presence of aliens and their history with ancient people (they teach them how to farm, how to build pyramids, blah blah blah) undercuts much of the magic of the first three movies. I blame George Lucas. I have no particular reason to blame him, but I feel confident this is somehow all his fault.

Seeing the hat and the whip in action again was a thrill, but the movie was ultimately a disappointment.


Alison said...

Huh. I'm sorry you were disappointed, and I can understand why (the alien stuff was pretty goofy), but I really enjoyed it! I think I might have properly calibrated my expectations (they were very low).

I loved, loved the Marian Ravenwood stuff and was so glad to see her 1) looking her age (she didn't appear to be starved or botoxed), 2) being treated as a romantic lead on par with Indy, and 3) being an entirely competent action character--all that excellent driving! So I think everything else in the movie was just frosting for me.

Bob Rehak said...

Funny, I agree with both of you on this one! I share your misgivings about the film, Consuela, and in the light of day can certainly admit the validity of your criticisms. But like Alison, I dug the film overall -- in fact, I swallowed its tall tales hook, line, and sinker. I think for me the nostalgia factor won out over everything else (how nice to see Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, and Steven Spielberg working together again!). But I know it's by the same measure -- that is, fidelity to a shared past of moviegoing -- that a lot of people found the newest Indy chapter a letdown.

Conseula said...

I enjoyed the movie while I sat there. Nostalgia (and Shia) won me over while I sat there. It was a good $9 spent. But it's like watching any of the Star Wars prequels. The act of watching any of them in the theater on opening with a room full of fans of the originals was great. Seeing the crawl again, hearing the music, seeing little Anakin for the first time--all a great time at the moment, for all the reasons you both mentioned. Score one for nostalgia. But that feel-good viewing, sadly, doesn't make them good movies.