Archived: Review: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) - archived

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It’s been nineteen years since Indiana Jones’ last adventure and it was a long wait. Stephen Spielberg and George Lucas created Indy on a break from their other projects, looking for a classic hero character. After the original trilogy they always said they’d only do another if the story was right, and nearly twenty years later, they believed they had it.

Indiana is an older hero, still played by Harrison Ford who does still have everything that made Indy the hero he is. Set in the 1950s with making colouration we open with Indy still in trouble having been kidnapped by Russians and ordered by Col. Dr. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) to take them to a government secret, kept hidden in Area 51. Indy manages to escape, not helped by his supposed friend Mac (Ray Winstone) but only to a atomic testing ground. Later he is met by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who needs Indy’s help to track down his mother Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and friend Professor Oxley (John Hurt) and what ensues is an adventure to find the lost city of Eldorado.

Wines tend to get better with age, unfortunately this isn’t a wine. From the overly long title even the most hardcore Indy fan had to have doubts on if the fourth instalment could hold its own and whilst it is a myriad of high energy set pieces it doesn’t have the spark that its predecessors had. Whilst the original trilogy did deal with religion and had crazy situations that needed the suspense of disbelief I find it hard to apply the same logic to Crystal Skull. We’re treated to a more sci-fi based story this time around, which whilst is fitting for the time the movie is set, asks you to suspend your imagination beyond belief and it’s a struggle to do so.

As I mentioned, the previous movies had Indy stopping a mine cart with his feet, and jumping out of a plane in a dingy, perhaps it was because I saw them when I was younger, when I was able to imagine such things but even upon revisits I can still enjoy them. Yet on repeated viewings of Crystal Skull I’m finding the story to resemble more of a farce than action adventure. From the “rope” Indy must grab to save himself from the sinking sand to the “Tarzan” swing through the jungle I’m just left open mouthed in confusion as to why this was considered a good idea.

If Lucas and Spielberg would only consider Indy 4 if the story was right, how many scripts were wrong before they agreed to this? It’s not that I’m not a fan of science fiction stories, I feel it fitting for the 50s setting however I can’t cast Indy with the sci-fi stick. Indy is not Hans Solo and whilst he’s not exactly flying around the galaxy the introduction of alien life forms made this ridiculous. It’s all very well alluding to the fact but tell, not show.

Whilst it does have its flaws and sometimes over uses the CGI even though both Lucas and Spielberg were confident this would be old school film-making, it doesn’t detract from the fact that this still is Indiana Jones. Ford hasn’t lost it twenty years later and whilst the all star cast around him may not have a lot to do (aside from Blanchett and LaBeouf) they all carry the film at a pace and there is no denying this ride isn’t closing. It is action followed by action and it all holds up really well. It’s an adventure story that’s full of the excitement and wit of Indiana Jones but just slips in terms of plot.

Archived: Review: Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) - archived

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