Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review - Back for Another Fun Adventure!
by Alex Billington
May 20, 2008
Indiana Jones is back on the big screen for his first adventure in 19 years. Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and even George Lucas are all back, joined for the first time by sidekick Shia LaBeouf. The question on everyone's mind is whether this latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, still has the magic that the first three did. One thing is certain - Kingdom of the Crystal Skull definitely has the fun, entertaining spirit of the original three, but it also has its flaws. While not perfect, it is still one of the most entertaining adventures you'll see this year.
Twenty years after discovering the Holy Grail in The Last Crusade, archaeologist/teacher Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is roped into another adventure to uncover the mysteries of the world. This time, Indy is kidnapped by a Russian team led by Dr. Spalko (Cate Blanchett) and is forced to assist them in their search for a crystal skull. Once obtained, the villains hope to unlock the skull's powers, which can only be done if the skull is returned to the Lost Temple of Akator in the Amazonian jungle. Along the way, Indiana bumps into youngster Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who follows him to South America in search of one of Indiana's lost friends, Professor Oxley (John Hurt).
I grew up with Indiana Jones as one of my favorite cinematic heroes. Even after 20 years, he's still my hero. He can still kick ass, solve ancient mysteries, and charm women as well as he used to. Spielberg's and Ford's involvement in this guaranteed that the fourth film would keep the character true to its roots. However, the new script and story introduces a new character in LaBeouf's Mutt and ventures deep into the supernatural, which is where the problems lie. The story jumps over the top far too many times, including one scene with Mutt and monkeys, and loses steam near the end.
While I could dwell on how ridiculous some of Crystal Skull was, I instead want to commend Spielberg simply because he can still entertain as well as he did with the first three Indy films. No one makes films the way Spielberg does anymore: the action is genuine and realistic and the style reminds you of the days of old, where Luke Skywalker and Indiana Jones ruled the silver screen for many years. Spielberg's ability to create an adventurous, heroic, and above all fun film, is beyond compare. Most will be able to look past the somewhat shabby script and respect Spielberg for his true ability to create legends.
I won't spoil Crystal Skull, but with this film's ending I noticed a similar problem to Spielberg's other recent works, Munich and War of the Worlds. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ends abruptly without any real, meaningful explanation. The film never gives the audience the chance to contemplate the finale, epic and exhilarating as it might have been, and quickly wraps up before anyone can reflect upon what they're seeing. While the original three Jones movies never had this issue, Spielberg has recently lost his ability to craft a gratifying ending.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull far surpasses other similar blockbusters when it comes to action, adventure, characters, and entertainment value, but it is still troubled by its story. To truly enjoy it, you need to understand who Indy is and why the original three films became legendary. With that mindset, you'll leave Crystal Skull satisfied. This might even nudge out Temple of Doom in my own rankings. It's not perfect by any means, but it is fun, and with Spielberg and Ford, that's what counts the most!
Reader Feedback - 37 Comments
Sweet. I already have my tickets.
Dylan on May 20, 2008
Thank you for that!!!
REAL6 on May 20, 2008
I can't wait for the film. I know it won't be perfect...but I'll submerge myself in summer movie escapism again like I did when I was a kid in the 80s.
Kaiser Soze on May 20, 2008
An excellent, insightful review. Thanks for telling us what we need to know, and not ruining the movie by disclosing too many details that should be found out first-hand.
Jedi on May 20, 2008
Nicely written Alex. Excited for Thurs.
Ryan on May 20, 2008
same thing really that Ryan said...
Downey on May 20, 2008
is this going to be a worldwide release? :S
bltzie on May 20, 2008
how is it that every indiana jones movie must have germans and/or russians?
weas on May 20, 2008
Knudge Temple of Doom? I loved that one. Cant wait to see Crystal Skull.
john on May 21, 2008
Sounds promising - Is it a movie you'd go see again on the Silver Screen?
nha on May 21, 2008
The action is realistic? We weren't watching the same movie, then.
Colin Boyd on May 21, 2008
Alex mentions this film may nudge Temple of Doom in his rankings. I'm curious to find out where the Indy films rank in others opinions... Personally, I loved the Holy Grail installment more than the others. My list goes as so: 1.) Holy Grail 2.) Raiders of the Lost Ark 3.) Temple of Doom I assume the new Indy will take over that 3 spot. I'm anxious to find out!
C-Young on May 21, 2008
I particularly liked the scene in Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail where the surly French knights catapulted cows onto Indy and the rest of the kniggets of the round table.
Colin Boyd on May 21, 2008
it seems like the recipe of a good Indiana Jones film would be 1 part Nazis and 1 part Biblical Artifact... the Soviet army does a pretty good job of replacing the Nazis, but the other ingredient...
patrick on May 21, 2008
100% with you patrick! I just saw this and that other "ingredient" felt so out of place! I mean I had to focus and say to myself "ok this is an Indiana Jones movie you're watching". I agree with you too alex the monkey scene was way far over the top and the scene with the ants and Cate Blanchet was just ridiculous! I really really really enjoyed the first 45 minutes of the movie, but then everything went down fast! I feel kinda dissapointed, guess I was expecting too much of the old movies. The action was not realisitc, and this movie didn't look 70% real deal and 30% CGI, try it the other way! Overall it has a 6 out of 10 in my book, it saddens me =( Sorry Indy
bltzie on May 21, 2008
what a big let down. so tried to love it, but couldn't. i'd give it a 5/10. story was pretty lame. nothing in the action was really exciting either. got to silly in places too. would rank this last in the series.
louis on May 22, 2008
Hey Alex, My two most trusted youtube critics just gave this fairly negative reviews. They said it did not feel like Indiana Jones what do you say to that.
Iron Man Fan on May 22, 2008
I can't believe I'm saying this, but The Temple of Doom is NOT my least favorite Indiana Jones film anymore!
Echelon on May 22, 2008
Ahh, the sad existence of the jaded modern moviegoer. Too much CGI, too much CGI! WAH! WAH!! 😛 I can't say I loved this film, but I really liked it alot. An 8.5 is just about dead on what I'd give it. Of course I also liked the bit with Shia and the monkeys! Even though the main plot line was kind of weak, the 'fun' elements more than made up for it. This was a lively film that fits in with the other 3 movies just fine. Sure the crystal skull concept was kind of hokey, but the Ark of the Covenant melting people's faces off wasn't?
kevjohn on May 22, 2008
Saw it last night and they should have called it Indiana and the Kingdom of the Crystal SKUNK. What a piece of crap. I want my 2 hours back. Way to go Lucas, get some medication and some rest. When a formula works use it. They blew it on all accounts. Saying the main plot was weak is an understatement. There were so many plot holes and things that were never explained. I wanted to love this movie but it just made me mad. I wish I could forget I saw it.
Mike Avallone on May 22, 2008
8.5 ARE YOU SERIOUS? That movie sucked. They just ruined the whole Indy Franchise with that piece of crap they called a movie. I want my money back as well. ALIENS!!!!! Good lord. Lucas and Steven Spielberg should be ashamed of themselves. I am guessing he didn't have a clue of what to write to they got together and took peices of movies they had done before and threw it in there. HORRIBLE. I give that movie a 1 outta 10
Tyler on May 22, 2008
This movie was horrible. Frankly, take Indiana Jonse away from the title and it would of been enjoyable. They used the name to make money and in turn ruined another franchise. Without spoiling anything, seriously "grab the snake," why the hell wouldn't he just use his whip more than once in this movie. Extremely dissapointed but not surprised.
Tom on May 22, 2008
This was one of the worst sequels I've ever seen. It shouldn't even be included with the Indy franchise. Short Round couldn't even save this movie. First half of the movie wasn't bad. Some parts were actually kinda clever. Second half was.......... ughhhh. It turned into a really bad version of the... X-Files. So far the consensus seems about right. Save your money. Wait for the DVD.
PG on May 22, 2008
For the first 45 mins this was a Indiana Jones movie. Okay, we expected that most of the main action sequences would be heavy CGI after all I'm sure Harrison's insurance company love 'live action' for the over 60s. All the characters played their respective roles convincingly, and with enough nods to the fans. Young Indy, Mud, was a great casting. Now to the flaming. Once the plot started to get going it became clear that the George and Steven had been sat at home watching old Stargate re-runs and playing Halo (end sequence) when writing the script. Since when have aliens EVER even been hinted at in a indiana jones movie. What I think we were all hoping for was a bit of fighting, some memories from the old films, and a bit of magic and mystery thrown in at the end. We would have been happy with that. Instead we were given STOLEN plots (see stargate), STOLEN shots and a truely horrendous ending with a space ship that Halo did first. I think that in an effort to make a cheap buck the two biggest geniuses in movies made a cheap movie. The cast saved the movie. Without them George and Steven would have been in serious trouble. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Indiana Jones the Quantum of Solace.
Lu on May 22, 2008
I totally agree with your last paragraph. The movie could not be any more perfect than it is http://www.yowazzup.com/2008_05_21/indiana-jones-and-the-kingdom-of-the-crystal-skull-movie-review.html
James Pong on May 22, 2008
I'm not a fan of the monkey scene. Folks were kickin' butt, then all of a sudden, we're in the trees...what the frell.
Bry from Chi on May 23, 2008
"You know how people say: You're okey in my book! Or - in my book that's no good! Well I actually have a book. And every movie I've ever watch goes in this book, and now I watched this one, so it's going in the book! But I'm afraid that I'll have to file it....under " Pity...
KaZet on May 24, 2008
I put your comment under chickenshit
Vega Bro on May 24, 2008
This movie was terrible. Remove the Indiana Jones from this movie and it would have been slammed by everyone. Typically, the indy franchise left the mystery and fantastic to a few sequences typically near the end. This movie had it going non-stop. Yes, there were a few interesting action sequences but I had some real issues with this film. *SPOILER ALERT* Indiana Jones was a super-spy during the war - Are you kidding? He was an archaeologist that happened to be badass. Not a secret government agent that would work as a 'double-agent' in Berlin. Um, I don't think so. Indy is badass for being badass, not for some made-up war record. The whole opening sequence was weak. He survives a Nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator. Thankfully our hero gets blown several miles away from the bomb site without being hurt. Are you kidding? The contents of the secret box at 'Area 51' are highly magnatized, ok, but somehow this item's magnatism only works sometimes throughout the movie (when the story needs it apparently). Random natives attacking, but apparently protecting the 'thing'? The tarzan act in the jungle was ridiculous. The ant scene was a steal from 'The Mummy' which hurts on so many levels. One word as a topper... Aliens. They should have stuck with the mythical religious slants they took in the previous movies, not the sci-fi version they decided to go with. Did you ever think you would hear the words 'inter-dimensional' in an Indy film... George Lucas is dead to me at this point. Spielberg mailed it in. FYI - I tend to be a pretty harsh critic of movies, but accept movies for what they are meant to be. I don't expect beerfest to be an oscar masterpiece and vice versa but this movie, on all levels, was just plain bad!
Jungle Jim on May 26, 2008
I totally agree with Jungle Jim. The movie was terrible. Why did it take 19 years to bring this dross to the screen and how the hell did it get a standing ovation at Cannes? People must be so desperate for fun and have such low standards these days. The first Raiders is a classic for me, a 10/10 movie, and the mystical elements were handled well. The climax of Raiders is still terrific and very creepy. Temple of Doom is next, I'd give that maybe 7.5/10, then Last Crusade with maybe a 7/10. It was at this point that the Jones movies started to get silly, with the 1000 year old knight. This fourth movie is a travesty I think, I'd be very hard pressed to even give it a 5/10. It is to the first Raiders what T3 was to the first two Terminators. *** SPOILERS *** I was squirming with embarrassment during the opening sequence where Indiana survives a nuclear blast by locking himself in a fridge, AND he gets out without a scratch. Things just got worse and worse from there, with the most ridiculous climax to any movie I've seen in a long long time. The action scenes, especially from the truck-hopping get-the-skull scenes, were just ridiculous to watch. Why does Hollywood think fun = stupid these days? Check out the original Raiders with the truck/horse chase scenes, for example. Were they not fun and incredibly exciting and well-staged? You can't say the same for the action scenes in the latest one. It's almost like George Lucas himself directed this crap. Why do action scenes these days have to be so unbelievable and far out these days? Hollywood, take note, you DON'T have to keep topping action scenes, just do something DIFFERENT or the same thing in a different way to make it fresh. Die Hard still has some of the greatest action set-pieces ever made, and T2 is probably the king of the action movie, and not a silly stunt in sight. They are 'old' movies now but still look as fresh today, and beat the hell out of the current crop of Hollywood blockbusters. I hope that they do not make any more Indiana movies. If you love Indiana, just keep watching the first three. They'll only try to top the ridiculously overbloated action and you'll probably end up with Indiana in space or something ala Moonraker.
Richy on May 27, 2008
(CONTAINS SPOILERY STUFF) Well, I took the kids yesterday to see this. The kids loved it (8 and 10). I give it a 7 out of 10. I, too, was disappointed with the lack of whip use. However, I think what really detracted from the 'fun' of the old films was that there was no real love interest. Sure, Marian was there. Lovely. But she barely had the spunk of the old Marian. There must have been something lacking in the direction here, because her acting was just not as good. What the film needed was a young love interest for Mutt. That would have helped. Some cute banter between the two, a kiss or something fun. Just because Indy was a little too old for that kind of thing. Ah, for the days of shirtless Temple of Doom hotness. The thing that was hardest to take was seeing how aged Indy has become. I want him to stay in his 40s forever. And seeing him so grizzled was really hard to watch. Things I would have liked: 1) more whip...either having Mutt try it out and make a mess of it, or Indy using it more. 2) the traditional intro scene with Indy. Where did that go? The opening scene was always about Indy and typically something unrelated to the story at hand. Why change that? 3) some kind of hot girl romance for Mutt. There needed to be some fun sexual tension and there really was none to speak of. 4) less Temple of Doom and more Raiders. One of the problems with Temple of Doom was the ridiculous plane crash, raft slide, water adventure at the beginning. Same was true in this film with the multiple waterfalls and monkey swinging. It was too perfectly executed rather than realistic and messy. But I still enjoyed it. It just could have been better. Which is what hurts.
Movie Lover on May 28, 2008
I have read where george argued with writers . they disagreed stories one to anothers. that wasted alot of times .. they should share thoughts and blend it in to make stories better and outline the ideas to summary some points.. like try out let some people in his companies to say to like idea or not like vote or whatever.. knowing to me ..its indian jones lite.. if next movie .. will it be kool he use wheelchair on mine tracks and a wild ride if he broke his ankles while use it in indy 5?
pauly on Jul 8, 2008
I wanted my rental money back
lando on Jun 16, 2009
...and my childhood memories...
lando on Jun 16, 2009
It's been what? - a year on now and it still hurts. I am not going to desect this piece of trash as it has been done quite brilliantly above, but I just wanted to say that the wound is still raw and very, very deep. I hear that a fifth one is planned. I hope the 2012 apocalypse predictions are true and we are all saved from Mutt and his old man taking off in Apollo 11 or whatever nutzo idea Lucas has buried in his beard. Speilberg, do us all a favour and tell The Chinless One that this time you are writing it.
Hated this movie on Jul 14, 2009
Lots of action, great movie! Karen Allen looks the same, only a little older, but still beautiful!
Artur on Apr 23, 2010
This movie is garbage. End of.
Nico on Jun 29, 2010
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