Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

What’s so wonderful about Steven Spielberg is that he can enjoy a twenty year pause in between Indiana Jones films and then make a new one without missing a beat. This new film, made by a man in his sixties that still proudly views himself as a young boy with gray hair, has all the excitement and fun of the original trilogy, with a plot that starts off fairly ridiculous and works its way farther and farther away from sanity like a good movie should.

One obvious difference in the series is that star Harrison Ford has visibly aged since the original movies, and as a result the film is now set roughly twenty years after the older movies. Thus, while the old movies featured standard pulp adventures from the 30s and early 40s, like Nazis, voodoo, and evil Asian tribesmen, this one is firmly entrenched in the stories of the late 50s: evil Russians, government conspiracies, aliens, and greasers. The plot has Indy getting caught up with a young James Dean wannabe (Shia LeBeouf) in a race to a hidden kingdom in Peru to rescue Shia’s mother and professor from the KGB, who are trying to unlock a secret that would theoretically give them control over the entire world! Much like the earlier films, it’s pretty much just an excuse to string along action sequence after action sequence, each one more absurd and delightful than the last. There are times when it does get a little bit overdone, such as when Shia starts his Tarzan impression, but it’s still pretty fantastic all the way through.

If there’s a real problem with the film, it’s in the form of the villains. Cate Blanchett, surprisingly enough, does a pretty weak job as the heavy, giving us a Ukrainian that is a failure on pretty much every level: she has supposed psychic powers that are hinted at once and then never brought up again, she’s an expert swordswoman that can’t defeat a young punk with only a little formal training, and never once comes off as intimidating as, say, the creepy bald Nazi in Raiders, or the voodoo priest in Temple. I think she can safely be chalked up as the big victim of the film’s numerous rewrites.

Even with these flaws, though, the film is every bit the rollercoaster ride that the first three films are. If you have a fondness for the old movies, and there’s something wrong with you if you don’t, then you should enjoy this movie as well. If you happen to not like those old movies, then I can only assume you are also opposed to kittens, roses, and sheer human joy, and will as a result not find it within your heart to enjoy this movie. If such is the case, then you may want to go see something else. Perhaps Prom Night or Baby Mama might be more your speed.

Rating: *** ½

1 comment:

katsucurrys14 said...

i thought it was the weakest out of the four. although to be fair, it had its high note with raiders and has gone steadily downhill ever since. for example, the reintroduction of marian should've been heavily nostalgic. instead, i found it really jarring; especially because her character seemed so superfluous to the movie.

what really killed the movie for me, however, (and by killed, i mean brutally murdered with a rock to the face), was the last sequence where you actually SEE an alien scowling at the screen. imo, that would have been the equivalent of moses stepping out of the ark in raiders, or shiva popping out of those sacred stones in temple. these mysteries only work if you leave in some element of mystery.