Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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Published on: 2008.05.26

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starts off more slowly than the other films in the popular Indiana Jones franchise. There’s more dialogue, more explanation. But once it gets going, it’s as fun a romp as the others were.

There are the same mystical hieroglyphics that must be decrypted, the same reluctant heroism on the part of Jones (Harrison Ford), and the same clichéd love side-story.

There are a few nods to previous films, which some fans didn’t like, but I felt gave the movie a familiar feel. For instance, remember the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, when a character says the Ark is being guarded by “top men”? Then there’s the closing scene with the large warehouse full of classified boxes. This movie basically starts out in that warehouse (the same one that’s been parodied by both The Simpsons and South Park.)

Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Indiana Jones, now 20 years older than in the previous films, has been an Army officer and intelligence agent for the U.S. government during World War II. Russian agents are now in the U.S. to steal something from Area 51, and so they kidnap Jones and an old friend to help them.

He manages to escape them in the Area 51 warehouse, somehow surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator. He meets up with “Mutt,” who’s in search of his mother. His mother turns out to be Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s love interest in earlier installments. Predictably, Mutt turns out to be Indiana’s illegitimate son.

Another of Indy’s old friends is in South America looking for a Crystal Skull, where’s he been kidnapped by the Russians as well. (By the way, the Russians are no match for the scariness of the Nazis in the first three films.)

Anyway, Indy manages to keep his son and Marion safe, while rescuing his old friend, surviving the betrayal of other friends, and they eventually learn that the skull was from an alien (which was very strongly hinted at in the early scenes, starting in Area 51 … duh).

The plot kind of rambles along, without each part being tied to the last, and all of the characters spend quite a bit of time explaining each scene, as if the viewers can’t see for themselves. This part was unlike older Indiana Jones movies, where the camera tells part of the story, and the viewer gets to figure some parts out.

There are also quite a few trite one-liners, in a half-hearted attempt to match up with the first three movies. Several action scenes don’t seem to make much sense, and are apparently only included to keep the kids entertained. For some reason, CGI prairie dogs and monkeys are added in, giving the movie something of a Disney effect for the kids.

One reviewer on said it this way: “This movie could have stuck with the style of the other films, and turned out a winner even if it plagiarized the others heavily. Instead it eschewed the tried and true 1980s style (of) epic film-making and … tried to capture modern, presumably intellectually-inept viewers with big explosions, worn out lowbrow humor, cartoon animals, and a total disregard for physics or reality in general.”

It doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. It’s still Indiana Jones, for Pete’s sake. It’s still funny, and it still will entertain you. It’s better than 70% of the action movies made today. It’s just #4 in a ranking of the best Indiana Jones movies.

IMDb: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Wikipedia: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Rating: PG-13
(adventure violence and scary images)
Length: 124 min (2:04)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action / Adventure
My Rating: 6 of 10
Family Friendly: Yes.
Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Alan Dale

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