Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review by Cinema Guru Boy

You know what I always liked about the Indiana Jones movies? It was always this really cool action/adventure flick steeped heavily in religious mythology, fueled by Indy having to connect a series of clues to him to some archaeological artifact. The supernatural aspects were always rooted in religion; Christianity in the first and third ones, and that weird voodoo thing in the second. Indy always had to face this cool villain, along the way, the films always had this great sense of humor, yet never to eclipse the action pieces. This is what the foundation of the Indiana Jones was based in, what garnered such a rabid legion to make up its fan base. Why change all that?

The basic plot premise was probably the largest departure from the previous installments of the franchise. So, a bunch of Russian KGB nuts led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchette), who is riddled with penis-envy, are looking for some weird crystal skull because some ambiguous legend says it's the key to great power. They cross Indiana's (Harrison Ford) path, so of course he becomes involve by proxy. Apparently, by some coincidence, another side searching for the same artifact also seeks out Indy for help finding it, a twenty-something named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) because they've kidnapped Ox (John Hurt), an old friend of Indy's who also served as a father figure to Mutt. So this time around, Indy has no real interest in finding the Crystal skull, like he did the ark of the covenant, or those stones in The Temple of Doom, but this was more akin to The Last Crusade, how he was just trying to rescue someone close to him who had been searching for this artifact. Okay, so far, it's all fine and good, they had to find the clues and connect them to find Ox. Once they do, it all falls apart.

Minor spoiler alert
The first half of the movie is genuinely enjoyable and really feels like an Indiana Jones flick, but the second half becomes this eye-rolling marathon. Once they find Ox, all the clues come to a screeching halt. The only plot-advancement technique used from here on out involve: "Hey! The old guy who was driven insane has done this before! Let's follow him!" The fun ride isn't a clever plot-driven adventure any longer, it's just one action scene tacked to the next. And as it turns out, this is no longer the fantasy-adventure film that we've all come to love this series for, but rather, it's a full-fledged science fiction film. Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a proponent of sci-fi as anyone, I just feel that it has no place in an Indiana Jones flick. It just doesn't feel like one of Indy's adventures this way. The entire plot hinges on this aspect, and it just doesn't work.
End of minor spoilers

The action sequences are good enough for the most part. Indy and Mutt have a number of fun chase scenes and fight sequences to sustain the feel of the franchise, and I was very engrossed throughout the first act. But again, after finding Ox, and Indy and his group were racing the Russians to the Kingdom of the Chrystal Skull, things got ridiculously out of hand. The entire chase/fights throughout the Amazon got so cartoonish, it was insanely depressing to consider this movie as part of the franchise. My biggest issues, without giving much away, involved an army of ants, and the most disgusting scene in the history of Spielberg films, in which Mutt finds a creative way to catch up with the rest of the chase. I just don't get how someone could watch the dailies of these scenes and think that they belong in an Indiana Jones movie. You'd think Spielberg would have a pretty good handle on what should be in one. Go figure.

The comedy, however, was 100% spot on. Every joke throughout the movie worked. Every humorous facial expression, every one-liner, every sight gag. This was very much on par with The Last Crusade. They even threw in a nice little in-joke to another one of Harrison Ford's roles toward the end of the movie that got a real rise out of me. This was one aspect I genuinely appreciated from opening credits to closing credits, the humor was still there.

All in all, no real complaints about the cast. Blanchette was good enough, as I found her Russian accent impeccable, but I just didn't like the character. Even Michelangelo knew better than to sculpt David out of poop. You can't create a masterpiece if you have nothing to work with. So, whatever. Jim Broadbent replaced Denholm Elliot as Indy's dean and accomplice. He was fine enough, but wasn't really given much to work with. If you try to describe his character, all you have is that he's the loyal dean. Marcus Brody was so much more layered. Denholm is sorely missed. John Hurt was excellent, however, as I said, the character brought the plot down, even if the acting was great. LaBeouf was good, he seemed to fit in well, he pulled off both the action as well as the comedy. But the most pleasant aspect was Karen Allen. Her return was so welcomed, and her chemistry with Ford never missed a beat. They were every bit as good arguing as they were getting along, just like last time. So all the acting was great, even if the new characters weren't.

So, there were things I really liked about this flick. And there were things I hated. I'm talking complete despise. Well, a great philosopher once said, "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life." I think that applies here as well.

But, that's just, like, my opinion, man.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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