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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted by martinteller on September 29, 2012

For four years I’ve heard about how terrible this movie is.  How it destroyed a beloved franchise, raped everyone’s childhood, et cetera.  Honestly, I wouldn’t have bothered watching it if it wasn’t part of the Blu-Ray set.  Although I figured a lot of the hate towards it was exaggerated (I couldn’t imagine it being any more than painful than Temple of Doom), I steeled myself for a miserable experience.  And guess what?  I liked it.  I’m not saying that to be contrarian.  I’m not like that.  I sometimes go the other way, but I rarely like something more than the general consensus.  Then again, I’m the guy who doesn’t think Alien: Resurrection is all that horrible, either.

I’ve heard the complaints.  The one I probably heard the most was about the “nuke the fridge” scene.  Sure, it’s farfetched to a ridiculous degree.  So is a lot of the action in the first three movies.  I didn’t love it — it felt a little out of place, for one thing — but I sure didn’t hate it.

I heard about the aliens.  Why is this supposed to bother me?  Are aliens any more absurd than a magic box that melts faces?  A man who can rip your heart out with his bare hands and leave you still breathing?  A cup that grants eternal life?  This franchise has a history of dealing with the fantastic, the unbelievable, the magical.  I don’t have a problem with aliens.  I thought it was kinda neat.

I heard about Shia LeBeouf.  This is my first experience with him.  Okay, I just lied.  Apparently I saw him in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.  I’ve forgotten him, as I’ve tried to forget most of that atrocity.  But I liked him just fine here.  Again, I didn’t love him, but he’s a likable fellow who seems like a decent actor.

Granted, I do have my own gripes.  The gags with the gophers are dumb.  The chase through the jungle has some terrific action, but parts of it look like a videogame or something.  Karen Allen is sadly underused, leaving Marion Ravenswood a pale reflection of her character in the first film.  The magnetic powers of the skull appear ill-defined and inconsistent.  On a larger scale, the movie sometimes seems to lose its bearings and doesn’t have as strong a plot propeller as any of the previous stories.

But screw it, I enjoyed myself.  It’s just… fun.  The action and adventure and mystery all strike the right chords.  Ford plays an older Jones in a way that didn’t raise any red flags for me, it felt right.  The nods to the earlier films weren’t too obnoxious.  Cate Blanchett plays her role with delightful Cold War camp.  Some of the visual spectacle is stunning.  Some of the humor is funny.  Some of the relationships are intriguing.  Not all of it works, but enough of it does.  My childhood remains non-raped.  I would watch this again, which is more than I can say for the second entry in the franchise.  It’s not a great movie, but I’d put it smack in the middle of Spielberg’s output.  Heck, I’d even be game for The Adventures of Mutt Williams.  Rating: 73 (Good)

IMDb
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6 Responses to “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

  1. Alex Thompson said

    Yup, good stuff. That picture you picked is as iconic as anything in the first three films, and for good reason. I wish Cate Blanchett had some more villainy to do, but these movies have always been about the adventure more than the bad guys. Plus, there’s plenty of Blanchett being delightfully over the top in Hanna.

    • Hard to pick an image because with Blu-Rays, I’m limited to what I can find elsewhere on the web. Seemed like a good choice, kind of ties in with the nuclear reaction people on the internet had to the movie.

      Guess I’m gonna have to see Hanna!

  2. I was a bit polarised with this. There were things I liked and things I really hated, Shia Lebeouf swinging through the trees with the monkeys being the worst culprit. But there is some fun to be had too. Nice write up.

    Plus, I didn’t think Alien: Resurrection was that bad either!

    • The monkeys thing really didn’t bug me. It went by too fast to annoy me.

      The only movie in the ALIEN series I really love is the first one, but to me RESURRECTION is right on par with 2 or 3.

  3. Totoro said

    Can’t believe you like this but hate Temple of Doom. I rather have a Chinese kid and a shrieking blonde over a catatonic brunette and a wooden college student any day.

    • Short Round’s problem isn’t that he’s Chinese, it’s that he’s unbearably annoying. I didn’t find LaBeouf all that “wooden” although I will agree it would have been nice to see more spunk from Allen.

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