Movie and Film Reviews (MFR) Action,Adventure,Sci-Fi Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Over the last several years we as moviegoers have seen a resurgence of sorts amongst our former big screen heroes and legends. Beginning in 2005, with the excellent resurrection of the Batman franchise with Christopher Nolan’s gritty and much more realistic “Batman Begins”, followed in 2006 by Rocky and James Bond returning in “Rocky Balboa” and “007: Casino Royale” respectively, also that year marked the triumphant big screen return for one of the greatest heroes of all time, the man of steel in “Superman Returns”. So, with all of these film franchises being dusted off to continue on or just rebooting to start things off fresh, it seems to make perfect sense that after a nearly 20 year absence from theaters, that acclaimed director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas would bring back their iconic collaboration, the treasure hunting archaeologist Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. for another adventure with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is set in 1957, as Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. is yet again finding himself on the run from foreign agents. This time he’s not trying to outwit the Nazis; instead, it’s the Russian KGB on his tail, led by a dangerous, power-hungry agent (Kate Blanchett) in search of the mythical crystal skull of Akator. With the aid of his former love, Marion (Karen Allen) and a biker named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), Indy must face odds the likes of which only he could call fair, all in an effort to ensure that these powerful and priceless artifacts never fall into the wrong hands.

After being away from the big screen for 19 years, the announced return of Indiana Jones was sure to inspire droves of fans to begin wishing about what they would like to see their hero do in his next adventure. No doubt just like with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, expectations went so high that no movie was ever going to be able to meet them. So, here we are after several years had passed since the first announcement was made in the early nineties about a fourth Indy film, and promise after promise being made over the years by George Lucas, or someone else associated with the movie, that another adventure was coming, the time has finally arrived, and the results were… Well, quite mixed from fans, to say the least.

Many fans felt that this installment lacked that special something that made the original trilogy so great. There were some fans that enjoyed this newest adventure, feeling that it was just as good as a majority of the original trilogy, or at least on par with them. I for one fall into the category of a fan that enjoyed the original series, and found this one to be on par with the majority of the other installments; perhaps a bit lower than the standard set by “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”.

Is this a perfect movie? No, not by any means, and I admit that there are some aspects of the film I wish could have been removed or reduced here and there; yet for the most part I found this sequel to be completely entertaining and plenty of fun for the family. As for the story of “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, writer David Koepp (“Spider-Man”) did a very good job of evolving the character naturally from where we’d seen him last, into this much more weathered archaeologist/tomb raider; and by realistically representing Harrison Ford’s age as being that of Indy’s so as not to stretch believability too far with what the character can do. I personally appreciated this effort on the writer’s part by allowing for the 19 years that had passed in reality, to be the exact same as what has passed in the franchise’s history so that everything done within the story holds more merit. Some have complained that the movie went too much into the science-fiction realm, and should have stayed more in the supernatural realm as the original three movies had done. I can’t really agree on that point, because if you think about it science-fiction and supernatural elements kind of go hand-and-hand. So, to say that for instance “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was obviously supernatural by dealing with God, and the power of the Ark of the Covenant, but that it wasn’t sci-fi doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m not saying that God or anything related to him is science-fiction, but most of the movies that deal with that area tend to fall into the sci-fi category; thus, the alien element in this film isn’t that much of a stretch. I also, liked that they clearly linked this film to the original film with many nods throughout the story; this to me was most likely done in an attempt to show you where the seeds for this story were planted way back then. This was further evidence that this film’s storyline came as a natural progression for the series, not something completely out of left field as others have protested.

For those audience members that chastised this film for not including enough action from Indy, and relying far too much on Shia to get a lot of the action done; personally, I think you all should get a life. But, I’ll address the issue all the same, because it’s annoying to me and I want to say my piece about it. If you were one of the many that wanted another Indiana Jones adventure with Harrison Ford then you got one, but you have to realize something, the man is in his sixties now; therefore, he can’t do everything he used to do 19 years ago or more. If you would have rather they recast the role (which I doubt you would) then you would have all griped about how it’s not the same as when Harrison played the role. Basically, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Either you wanted another Indy adventure with Harrison or you recast it? Those were the options, take them or leave them? I for one, am pleased that they didn’t recast the role, and thought that Harrison, although much older now than he was in the last adventure, still did an admirable job of playing the character believably and was still able to handle himself easily enough in the various fight sequences he found himself in. Were there times when it seemed apparent that the torch was being semi-passed to Shia for the action/adventure stuff? Of course, he was the obvious choice in the cast. But, at least he’s an up-and-coming young star, who is amassing quite an impressive fan base, and is a skilled actor that can handle the action and the drama equally. So, if the series had to be handed off eventually, at least they picked an actor that could actually handle the mantle rather than crumble beneath the weight of it.

The casting for the film was exceptional. Harrison once again does an excellent job with the character. Getting to play Indy as a much more mature character than he had been in previous movies must have been fun for him, plus it was nice to see the little nods to what he knows he could have done in years past, but age just won’t allow any more. The return of Karen Allen to the role of Marion was a nice touch, she was much better in the role this time around than she was in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Out of all the different women in the series, I’m glad they chose to bring her back, because frankly, Willie would have been just too annoying to see again. Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”) was a welcome addition as Indy’s reluctant new sidekick, as it were. He played a typical tough guy from the fifties, seemingly obsessed with his hair and his leather jacket; yet fiercely loyal to his friends and family. Rounding out the supporting cast we have Cate Blanchett (“Elizabeth 2: The Golden Age”) as the despicable KGB agent trying to use Indy to gain access to the powerful crystal skulls. I thought that Kate was very good in the role, and having the Russians be the primary enemy in this installment made sense given that the Nazis were hardly a concern any longer in the grand scheme of things. Lastly, we have Ray Winstone (“The Departed”) as Indy’s partner of questionable loyalty. Ray played the part in such a duplicitous way that I never knew for sure which side his character was actually on until the end. His was truly one of the better red herrings/betrayers throughout the series’ history.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a truly entertaining return to the big screen for the so-called “Man in the Hat”. While some moments within the movie cause the story to stumble about here and there; overall, the final result is a fun-filled adventure that perfectly continues this long-lasting film series that families can enjoy time and again.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is rated PG-13 for violence and brief language.

1 thought on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”

  1. White not as good as the originals, it is pretty much what an Indiana Jones Movie is. People are too critical and pretentious when it comes to realism in films instead of appreciating it for what it is.

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