Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…a second opinion

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…a second opinion

Ah, expectations…they can be a funny thing sometimes. A cruel temptress to be sure. How many times has someone disliked a movie simply because it didn’t meet the impossible standard of there expectations? I have been guilty of this too many times to count. So many times, when a movie I deeply look forward to and have a strong personal connection with is released, I find that first viewing to be somewhat…confusing, and well, yeah…a little disappointing. Deflating even.

In the case of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I had monumental expectations. Rightfully so, I still maintain, and the film never really stood a chance on meeting (or surpassing) them. Of course, that last admission and insight comes in hindsight. Back in May, when the film was released, I was incredibly nervous and excited. Afterall, in the past decade George Lucas gave us the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which had its moments (The final duel in Episode I, about 1/3 of Episode II and most of Episode III), but was also unlike what anyone was really hoping for or expecting.

While those films did have a reason to be made, to complete the story of Star Wars, a 4th Indiana Jones hardly needed to be made, and I just hoped the film wouldn’t deminish the memory of the stellar classic trilogy from the 1980s. I mean look at the last scene of The Last Crusade, Indy and the other heroes ride off into the sunset with the fantasic Indy march blasting in the background. It was perfect, and Steven Spielberg himself brings this point up in a Disc 1 documentary on the Crystal Skull. Still, a well made new Indy adventure is all we can hope for. Upon its release, there weren’t too many people on either extreme about this film. Most people, myself included, found things they both loved and hated about the film. As a result, and with much stronger films released this summer (The Dark Knight, to name one…which also did meet and exceed expectations), Indy and company just sort of drifted along into apparent obscurity.

Yet, dispite such a luke-warm response to the film, I was still very excited for the DVD. With good reason. After all, this is Indy we’re talking about. Upon the second viewing, this past week on DVD, I really had a lot of fun watching this movie. The flaws that seemed so apparent my first viewing (see the link for my full review at the bottom) didn’t bother me at all. The first act, which seemed like it dragged the first time, shot along and a great pace the second time. Everything seemed so much better. The character was back to me, and I loved every moment he was on screen. Is it on par with the older films? Heavens no, not even close. But, as Spielberg notes on the DVD documentaries, it is “a close blood relative,” and thats fine with me. While the older films were newer versions of the old school 1930’s action serials, this new adventure is nothing more than a newer version of the 1950’s style science fiction-action-thrillers. When you realize this (and it is explained quite well by Lucas in the same documentary I’ve mentioned a few times now), the film really does crystalize (forgive the pun) in your mind a whole lot better.

The film is a fun, fond return to a classic big screen hero, and it is done really quite well. Does it have its problems? Yes. It does have very exciting moments though as well. Its our choice which we focus on, the negative aspects of the film or the positive, fun aspects. I chose to focus more on the film’s flaws, and why it didn’t meet my expectations the first time, and the second time I just sat back and had a great time watching a very good story, well told and with great characters and a great old school feel to it. Also, I think (ironically) the film is better served on a small screen and on DVD than it was on the big screen. Indy has never had as many visual effects as he does in this new film, and on the big screen they were blatant and glaring. On the smaller, TV screen, the effects are still mostly noticable, but not as distracting.

Overall, I am pleased to have enjoyed the film as much as I did the second time. I would recommend anyone who had a similar, disappointing reaction to this film the first time, to give it another honest try. It can’t be what we all want it to be, and yes it could’ve been a lot better than it is, but it is still one hell of a fun ride. Lets be thankful for that.

Link to my original review back in May:

4 thoughts on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…a second opinion”

  1. Glad you changed your opinion. My second time watching it, really helped me love it to death, even though I enjoyed opening night. People complaining have no clue as to what they are talking about or any historical perspective on the 1950’s. The originals were set in the 1930’s when Nazis were alive and kicking, the 1950’s was at the height of the Cold War when the fear of Atomic weapons was real and the B movies playing constantly were about aliens invading, which of course was just taking place of the real life fear of the Soviets and the “Red Scare.”
    The crybabies bitch about Indy with aliens, yet a guy removing a still beating heart in “Temple of Doom” as he watches is somehow more acceptable? Or the notion that the Ark of the Covenant is discovered and opened and melts all the bad guys or the a cententuries old Knight watches over the Holy Grail- I call bullshit on them. The film is tons of fun and is exactly what the series has always been intended as- the best damn B Movies ever made.
    Crybabies, cram it with Walnuts!

    Looks incredible on Blu-ray by the by.

  2. Those who didn’t enjoy it, make sure the sound and visual presentation is top-notch, a friend of mine hated the movie at the theaters, but when he bought it on Blu-ray he was blown away at how much he liked it. The sound, music and picture were flawless.
    My local theater is notorious for showing new releases in sub-par presentations. The sound is always too low and tinny and the picture is usually too dark with the screen full of holes and scratches.

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