Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Reviews
Though arguably ruined by a dumb twist and a rehashed storyline, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is still a lightly entertaining throwback to its vastly superior predecessors.
There are certainly things to enjoy here. Once again, the action scenes are creative and interesting, even if they are overly reliant on CGI. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen return and revive some of their chemistry from the first movie. The rest of the cast is also pretty great. Shia LaBeouf, whatever your opinions on him are as a person, can be a damn good actor when he needs to be and this movie is elevated by his performance. He manages to bring a genuine vulnerability to his tough guy persona that's very endearing. Special mention should also go to Cate Blanchett as Soviet spy Irina Spalko. Hamming it up but also injecting a true sense of menace, she creates, I believe, the most memorable villain in the franchise.
One of the two biggest issues with this movie stems from the overall story. The choice to set it in the late 1950s and have Indy fight the Soviets is a novel idea worth exploring. Plus it conveniently matches Harrison Ford's actual age. Where it begins to stumble is with the alien plot. Kingdom has two distinct styles (swashbuckling adventure serial and science fiction B-movie) going on at once which, more often than not, clash in a very blunt and awkward way. Indy, with his usual look and speech, feels very out of place in this story and it's very distracting. If the filmmakers had commented on this a bit then it might have worked but it's played mostly straight so it tends to fall short.
The other major issue is the overall "tiredness" of the whole production. This isn't to do with the actors but more with the directing and technical feel of it. Steven Spielberg reportedly didn't want to make this movie and it shows through his flat directing and overuse of CGI effects, although I have a sneaking suspicion the latter was George Lucas's doing.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not a bad movie by any means but it's certainly a disappointment. You can check it out and have a good time but don't expect anything worth writing home about.