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Showing 1 - 1 of 1 Reviews for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Posted on 5/22/08 11:39 AM
Like everybody else, I've been waiting breathlessly for this movie. I wanted tons of action, unrelenting set pieces, critters, mystical objects, derring-do and, of course, Harrison Ford in the jungle with a bullwhip.
And, like everybody else, I wanted this to be an Indiana Jones movie.
I got a lot of what I wanted. But by no means everything.
Oh, there was action galore and set pieces that defied belief and mystical objects and Harrison Ford with a whip in the jungle. And I ate it up. And the Ark cameo.
But surprisingly, the one thing that I thought they'd nail is the one thing that made the movie fall short: acting. The entire RAIDERS series has over-the top acting, but when watching it, I bought that the characters believed every word they were saying. Not here. Harrison spouted some dialogue that could easily have been imbued with some care, but he phoned it in. I didn't believe that Jim Broadbent was actually an "old friend". The snake scene could have been great, but the danger wasn't there and Harrison played it campy instead of true terror.
And while I love Marion, why was she smiling in every shot of this movie? She exited a Russian tent in the jungle smiling. What?
And the reviewers who claimed that the best performances were from wasted actors were right: John Hurt was left murmuring senselessness (which is fine, but don't cast JOHN HURT) and Ray Winstone shines, but doesn't do nearly enough.
Here's the shocker: Shia LeBouf gave the best performance in the picture. He was dead-on. I'll forgive him the monkey-swing through the trees and simply blame Lucas, but otherwise, Shia I believed. I could complain about CGI gophers (and I guess I just did), but the biggest problem was the tag ending.
Not only do I not believe a 65-year-old Indy getting married to his ex-sweetheart that he just saw for the first time in 25+ years, but it goes against his character- or rather, it goes against what we want. We don't want to know about Indy's real life. We don't care. Giving him a wife and settling down is killing him, essentially. Indy perpetually lives swinging from things and fighting bad guys in the safe confines of our memories and DVD cases..... he's not real and he doesn't get married and settle down. This was a case of one of the three (Spielberg, Lucas or Koepp) hoping the whole "Dad" thing from LAST CRUSADE would work with a "family." It didn't. Yes, Indy has some very funny lines about Mutt going to school, etc., but it doesn't work.
All that being said, I still had fun. The warehouse chase was great fun (I could have done without the nuclear test scene which pushed it a bit too far), and as soon as they hit South America, it was ON. It's ironic that I didn't believe small intimate things Harrison Ford said to other characters but I completely bought every word he said about Crystal Skulls, mythical kingdoms, and crazy theories. Probably because Indy never really believes those stories in the first place, so Harrison and Indy's tongue is firmly in cheek, finally.
I was more than willing to buy the skull bit, and the myriad of cool set pieces like the sanatarium, graveyard, Conquistador's resting place, jungle, Akator temple....... loved 'em. The ant scene was great! I was even willing to buy the various effects that the skull had on different things. But if it told Indy that it wanted to go home, I want to see that shocking realization in Harrison Ford's face for a few scenes. And with a great chase scene from angry Incans, I don't want it quickly interrupted by Russians calmly killing them all. They could have been used to much greater effect toward the end of the movie.
I even liked the alien section at the end. The saucer rising from the ground, on the other hand, not so much. And I'm a bit concerned that the "compromise" that Ford and Spielberg made with Lucas for including aliens was the tossed off line by Hurt about them being "from another dimension" and not "from space" (rather: "the space between spaces.") - at that point, why do we care? And Spalko.......... I understand what they were doing with her dying because of her selfish quest for knowledge, but that could have been much better handled.
Last but so not least, the wedding chapel doors magically blowing open and Shia about to try on the hat? No. Another way of him trying on the hat at the end? Okay, but not that way.
Overall, this didn't feel like an Indiana Jones movie - it felt like all the people who did the Indiana Jones movies got together and made an homage to the Indiana Jones movies. Was it bad? No. But with Spielberg and Indy, any single moment of real disappointment (and this had a few) is the same as a regular movie being bad. The filmmakers bring a great resume with all A's (well, mostly) and they turn in a C+ paper, albeit written on brilliantly-colored paper.
A few more viewings and I might be at least okay with this movie. But so help me God, if Lucas finds a way to make another one, I may kill myself. It's not worth it.
ADDENDUM in June 2009. Have seen this a few times and have decided officially that even the few good things don't equal anything of quality. It actually gets worse the more you watch it. All the problems I mentioned above still apply, but after reading the original screenplay, this thing fails even more. If it didn't have Harrison and the words INDIANA JONES in the title, it might have been okay, but really, it's like the MUMMY 2 in a cooler jungle location. And the blurry camera style gets annoying really fast. Great set pieces that are wasted in the story. Great characters that get wasted. The Alien thing? Cool idea.... now tell a STORY. Just drop 10% from me.