“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – 2008. Dir. Steven Spielberg

 


With Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, Shia LeBeouf, Jim Broadbent, with Ray Winstone and John Hurt

 

“Any last words Dr. Jones?” – Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett)

“I like IKE!” – Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)

So it is 19 years after Indiana Jones’ adventure to find the Holy Grail where his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery) was introduced, and the film also included franchise staples of Sallah and Marcus Brody. In the fourth film, we of course have Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) who we haven’t seen since “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

The film opens with a great scene of Indy and “longtime” sidekick George “Mac” Macale (Ray Winstone) being kidnapped by Russians led by Dr. Irina Spalko (Blanchett), and they take the two men to a remote military base in the dessert because Spalko wants something that’s inside this huge warehouse. She knows that Indy knows the contents of the case they’re looking for, and forces him at gunpoint to find the item she’s looking for.

Indy does find it, and Spalko has the Russian soldiers load the case into the back of her jeep and she scurries away. Indy then cracks his whip around, beats up a bunch of Russians and escapes. He escapes to a nuclear blast test site that is a mock suburban town, and as the countdown nears zero, Indy hides in a refrigerator and survives the blast.

Wow…

I mean, he’s not outside of the blast radius, he’s at the heart of the mushroom cloud.

As the story progresses Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) is introduced and you can guess his significance to the story… He talks to Indy on and on and on about how his mother Marion and his “mentor” and Indy’s old classmate Dr. Harold Oxley (John Hurt) were kidnapped by the Russians and taken to Peru to find the – wait for it – crystal skulls. Indy and Mutt travel to Peru to save Oxley and Marion.

They fight Russians, fight weird ape style natives and try and prevent Spalko from obtaining the crystal skulls because the skulls power is – wait for it – mind control. The crystal skull looks like an alien head. Seriously.

Give me a FUCKING BREAK!

Look. I love Indiana Jones. I grew up watching the films, and I love the series so much that I’ll defend “The Temple of Doom”. As for “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – I can’t even begin to defend the film, but what I do like to do is talk about how fucking terrible this film is.

The only other good scene is the scene that follows the opening, were Indy is being interrogated by two FBI Agents because his sidekick Mac was a turn coat and was working for the Russians. So Indy’s patriotism is being questioned. Indy explains that during WWII when he was an OSS Agent for the US Military he conducted a lot of covert missions with Mac who worked for MI6 and was a covert British agent. He talked to them about how many missions Mac and he completed – that short scene was so much more interesting than the crystal skull story line. I wanted to see Indy in WWII performing covert military operations, fighting Nazi’s once again.

First off, Harrison Ford isn’t believable as Indiana Jones. It breaks my heart to say it, but it’s true. It’s not because Ford is older, but because the story is so ludicrous, and the dialogue that Indy says (aside from “I like Ike”) is atrociously bad. Just because Ford is wearing a leather jacket and a fedora doesn’t validate anything. Nice try guys, B- for effort.

Cate Blanchett, who I love, is the best part of this film. The only down side is that she looks like Natasha from “Rocky and Bullwinkle”. The film does take place in the 1950’s – so naturally Indy is fighting the Russians. Cate Blanchett is wasted in this film.

Shia LeBeouf portrays Mutt who is Indy’s son with Marion. Yikes. I smell a spin off, “The Adventures of Mutt Williams” or “The Adventures of Indiana Jones, Jr.” Real nice. What’s even worse than this is John Hurt. He’s horrible in the movie, and has a terrible character. I strongly believe that Dr. Oxley was originally Sean Connery in the first draft of the script. You want to know how bad this film is? Sean Connery declined to participate in it. Double yikes.

What else de-validates this movie is the abundance of CGI. It’s disgusting how much CGI is used in this film. It’s fucking Indiana Jones! The first trilogy was filmed on location, featured miniatures, and a lot of camera trickery! Not fucking CGI!!!!! Triple fucking YIKES!

What made the “Raiders” and “Last Crusade” so good? There are a bunch of common elements: historical objects (The Grail, the Ark), took place in the dessert, had franchise staple characters of Sallah and Marcus, and fucking NAZIS!

What made “The Temple of Doom” mediocre? Aside from it being an EXTREMELY dark film (Lucas was going through a divorce while writing the script). It takes place in the jungle (Peru in this film), annoying characters (Willie Scott – Kate Capshaw), and in the new film Mutt Williams, Mac, Dr. Oxley. The artifacts are fictionalish – the three stones in “Temple” and the crystal skulls in this film. The crystal skulls are real, but they don’t look anything like they do in the film, and their authenticity is in much question.

I had an idea of what the fourth film should have been. It’s in the late 1950’s, and the lingering remains of the Third Reich are held up in South America. They’ve been excavating in Egypt because they’re looking for the Staff of Ra (which the headpiece of the staff was used in “Raiders”). William Hurt (who previously worked with Spielberg in “A.I.”) would portray the Nazi who would be Indy’s nemesis in the film. The Nazi’s are looking for this staff because it would, in theory, gives them the supreme and divine power to once again rise to power. Since Indy is not only knowledgeable of ancient artifacts, but also was an OSS Agent during WWII, the American government would ask him for his assistance.

This would not only bring the Nazi’s back into play, but it would also bring Indiana Jones back to the dessert like “Raiders” and “The Last Crusade” – it would also allow Sean Connery to return, and also allow the return of Indy’s old friend Sallah. I think that sounds like a much more engaging story, and a story that remains true to the previous Indiana Jones films. Just imagine William Hurt in Nazi attire, the Nazi’s finally acquire the staff, he’s holding it – he’s about to activate the staff – and in comes Indiana Jones, he engages with Hurt, cracks his whip, fights Hurt, and somehow the staff destroys Hurt because the power it holds cannot be manipulated by just any man, especially such an evil man (much like the Ark and the cup of Christ did to the bad guys in “Raiders” and “The Last Crusade”) and Indy watches Hurt’s demise he smugly says, “Heil Hitler”.

I think I’m going to resume work on my “Indiana Jones 4” treatment; I promise it will not have “Mutt Williams” in it.

I know you have to suspend believe while watching Indiana Jones films – but when Indiana Jones is standing at the top of a temple, and watches a fucking UFO fly from the temple and into space – that is where I draw the line. Indiana Jones and aliens don’t mesh with me. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford should all be ashamed of this finished product. Thanks for keeping up waiting for 19 years guys. I think there was a reason the previous installment was titled: “The Last Crusade”.

Rating: 3.5/10

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Author: Frank Mengarelli

Everybody relax, Frank's here. After going to film school at Columbia College Chicago, Frank decided to underachieve with his vast knowledge of film into a career in civil service. Frank had a brief stint as a film blogger, and then he met the heterosexual love of his life, Nick Clement. The two instantly bonded over their love from everything to Terence Malick to THE EXPENDABLES films. Some of Frank's favorite filmmakers are Terence Malick, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Sylvester Stallone, Oliver Stone and Spike Lee. Some of his favorite films are THE TREE OF LIFE, STAR WARS (all of them), BAD LIEUTENANT, THE THING and ALL THAT JAZZ. Frank spends his free time with his dog Roger, collecting any Star Wars collectible he can find and trying to finish his pretentious, first person narrative novel(la), LARGE MEN IN SMALL CARS..

9 thoughts on ““Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – 2008. Dir. Steven Spielberg”

  1. Aliens weren’t the problem. As a concept, I can see that working. I’ve read Indiana Jones stories where he fights off against Sky Pirates, zombie nazis, and all kinds of wacky shit. Aliens just seemed like the next step up in his adventures of exploration.

    The problem was they were really, really, REALLY horribly done aliens. The “intrigue”, the suspense, the reveal, even the exposition is delivered painfully.

    A fine idea, really REALLY horrible execution.

  2. I don’t care, I enjoyed the hell out of this. Is it anywhere near as good as the others? No. But it’s fun for the most part. I just have to be up getting popcorn during the ant scene, the monkey swinging scene and most of Cate Blanchett’s scenes.

    It is notable for featuring an old school Spielberg feel, which hasn’t been around in his movies in a while. It confirms a suspicion of mine that he was actively avoiding making movies similar to his early stuff.

    And yeah everything you say about the abundance of CGI is true. It could have been infinitely better if there was a dedication to physical FX. The whip swinging in the archives especially bothered me because that should totally just be a stunt guy swinging onto a truck. That kind of stuff is the most annoying to me.

  3. I was just disappointed by the fact that this movie had to resort to the total craziness that never was the Indiana Jones series. Once you start bringing aliens into the story, you know it’s time to shelve the idea.

  4. This film broke my heart. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is my #1 favorite movie. Even when I try to be snob, it’s still the best movie-movie ever made. This film was truly a lesson in knowing when you should let sleeping dogs lie. I try to pretend it never happened. And Shia LeBeouf? I hate that guy!

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