Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Review
I just realized that i had created a Rotten Tomatoes account for myself three years ago. And three years ago i wrote this review for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. From the looks of it, i hated the movie so much i decided that i must create a Rotten Tomatoes account just to vote it down. I am sure the writing in this piece is Pulitzer worthy. Enjoy.
Posted on 5/24/08 08:54 AM
Disappointment. That is a word that kept creeping into my head while i sat through the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I spent the whole closing credits debating whether i liked the movie or not. It got the point where i gave up trying to sugar coat my experience.
I know what you guys are thinking. You are probably saying to yourself, Ralph, you are a Star Wars guy, not an Indy guy. The truth of the matter is, is that i love Indiana Jones. The very first score that i ever got was The Raiders of the Lost Ark. My mom bought me the tape when i was 4 years old, due to the fact that she felt i was too young to watch Raiders. I would sit there and listen to that cassette and draw pictures of Indiana Jones. I really love the character and i really wanted to love this film.
The movie begins following an army convoy. There are some teenagers hot-rodding around the convoy listening to a song from the 50’s that escapes me, but it was a really popular song. Anyway, the point is, It’s the 50’s! There is no title card for the film, which i suppose is there to unveil the big surprise that Indiana Jones himself is in the trunk of the lead military vehicle, which happens to be an undercover Russian military team, that just broke into Area 51. After a few old jokes, Indiana Jones is thrust into another adventure.
My problem begins here. After Indy has a conversation with Cate Blanchett’s character in front of a green screen , Indy is forced at gunpoint to help the Russians to find a mysterious box in a warehouse full of boxes (you know the place). Indiana Jones used the gunpowder from grenades to find the highly magnetic box. He throws the gunpowder into the air as they watch it fly across the warehouse. They follow the gunpowder and open up the box. When the Russians open the box, there is a sneak peak of what is inside. It looks just like an alien hand. There is no doubt about it. There is no mystery here, this is going to be Indiana Jones and the Men from Mars. After a quick escape on a rocket sled and a cutaway shot to CG gophers, Indy is on his way to his first adventure in the fifties.
I love, absolutely LOVE the idea of throwing the 30’s/40’s serial adventurer into a 50’s pulp science fiction adventure! My favorite shot of the film was seeing the nuclear mushroom cloud, with Indiana Jones standing right in front of it! As extreme as that scene was, it showed me that Indy was out of his element and i was along for the ride.
I love that Indiana Jones’ films take pieces of myth from history and turn them into a reality. I really like the idea of Indy living in the world where the aliens at Roswell exists! I accepted this world that was created. My main problem is that they show the alien way too early. You see the alien hand within the first ten minutes. The great thing about all the Indy films is that the power that surrounds the artifact isn’t revealed until the end. You sit through the whole movie getting caught up in the story so by the time you see the headpiece to the staff of Ra in action or see the lost Shankara Stones during a Thuggee cult ceremony glow with it’s mysterious power, you believe it!
There is no mystery to the crystal skull. They make allusions to the elongated skull and crop circles as if were didn’t see an alien hand at the very beginning. I figured that they may have not meant me to see as much of the alien hand at the beginning and that at the end it will be revealed that it was an alien race all along, But then they full on show the entire alien at the half way mark. There just isn’t any mystery surrounding the Crystal Skull. We know it is alien, so now we have to sit there and watch Indy try to figure out something about the origin of the skull, when the audience has already guessed it. It makes Indy look like an idiot. The mystery should unfold for the audience at the same time that it does for Indy! When Indy found out where the Well of Souls was, so did the audience. I should not figure out what is going before Indy does. It is just bad writing and directing.
The movie is just full of Bugs (literally and figuratively). I really enjoyed the concept of Indy vs. “Moon Men”, but i think that the script could have been worked on a little bit. I could go on and on about double agents and triple agents and old jokes, but i am going to give it a rest and get into some of the characters and their roles in the film.
Indiana Jones: Harrison Ford IS Indy! Not for a second did i think, wow, Indy is really old and he looks silly. I think that he was cool and played his oldness pretty well. He did not have too many stunts where i thought it was too fake.
Marion Ravenwood-Williams: Absolutely pointless. I have no idea why she was in this movie. Karen Allen is not a good actress and she brought nothing to this story. Absolutely NOTHING. She doesn’t even count as a love interest until the end of the film.
Mac: Ray Winstone plays a double/triple crossing sidekick to Indy. His character has no point in the film other than to make sure the bad guys know where Indy is at the end.
Professor Oxley: I like John Hurt as professor Oxley, but do we really need a fourth sidekick for Indiana Jones? FOUR! FOUR SIDEKICKS!
Irina Spalko: Cate Blanchett was pretty good. She was a really over the top Russian Psychic sent by Stalin to seek out the Crystal Skull. Irina Spalko didn’t have enough to do in the film, but thought she was a great big over the top villain!
“Mutt” Williams: I really liked Shia LaBeouf in this film. I think that all the scenes with him and Harrison Ford together were a lot of fun! I think he was a great sidekick. I think it was great to see his relationship mirror Indy’s relationship with Henry Jones Sr.. I think it would have been great if Indy just hung out with “Mutt” instead of the other THREE sidekicks. They go to great lengths to show how great he is with a switch blade, yet he never uses it once.I think that Mutt’s scenes during the Jeep chase were absolutely HORRIBLE! after a handful of CG nut-shots, he then makes friends with CG Monkeys and swings though the trees like Tarzan and catches up to three moving jeeps. Come On! really?
Back to the problems i had with the movie.
As I mentioned above Indy has FOUR sidekicks and for the most part three of them serve no purpose but to allow Indy to tag along as opposed to actually doing some detecting or research.
“Mutt” Williams, who is the biological son of Marion Ravenwood-Williams and Henry Jones Jr., is a great addition to the Indiana Jones mythos. I really like the interaction between them. It is such a cool dynamic that it made me want the entire film to be about Indy’s relationship with Mutt. I want to see the Jones boys on an adventure together. Indy has lost his father as well as Marcus Brody. Indy is all alone and probably has no real reason to go out and go on another adventure without the people that mean the most to him. But I thought that by having Mutt come into his life with an adventure to offer, that it would spark some youth into the old man. Even John Williams put in Henry Jones Sr.’s theme in when Indy was Contemplating, this, his final adventure. Williams seemed to understand how the movie should have gone.
I want to see Mutt bring out the Schoolboy in Indy.
I could go on and on about the problems in this film, but i don’t think i have the energy. I wish that Stephen Speilberg and Company could have taken a cue from Sylvester Stalone’s recent Rocky and Rambo films and played up the character’s inability to stay youthful as opposed to just throwing out a couple of old jokes and proceed as if 20 years have not passed. I understand that Serial Characters are not supposed to be filled with emotion, but there needs to be some heart in the film. I think that it is okay for Indy to be older. I think that it would have made Mutt a much stronger character, instead Mutt is no more than a sidekick to a fully capable sixty five year old Indiana Jones .
I will go ahead and give this movie a rating of :