Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

OK, I’ll start with no spoilers. It’s good to see the Indiana Jones character back, wish they had been making more of these as the characters are so fun and it is kind of ‘boys own’ comic book style. I also really liked the way this was shot (at first) the opening scene was very classic Hollywood come film noir with the low angle wide shots switching to extreme close up. Obviously the music was great, you’ve got to keep suspending disbelief over and over, and the running jokes referring to Indiana’s age is all good stuff.

I even thought I spotted a Wilhelm Scream (first time I actually noticed it on first viewing) so checked with IMDB and indeed “WILHELM SCREAM: Boy with stack of books in library about to get crashed into by bike.”

Now, The Spoilers – If you’ve NOT seen the film don’t read any further – go have fun don’t expect too much…

I waited until after seeing the film before reading Simon’s comments on this movie and I’ve got to agree to some extent. This movie “jumped the shark” for me during the STUPID impossible fight on the impossible cars traveling through the impossible jungle. It went on far too long with more and more silliness going on, too long and spun out just daft and no need for it to have been done so badly. Raiders of the Lost Ark was a great film, I don’t think it had that comic book style at all – sure it was ‘Hollywood’ in that any normal person getting dragged behind a truck wouldn’t get up and get on with the fight, but it didn’t simply throw away any sense of being on this planet…. you can’t jump around from car to car, stand and have a sword fight on the back of a speeding car – not to mention that the car is supposed to be off-road! So at that point we switch from fantasy to comic book and I think that’s when I lost interest and realised this movie wasn’t living up to my expectations.

So I’m not going to go in to all the other things I didn’t like about the movie, it wasn’t (by a long shot) the worst film I’ve seen. It is worth catching, just don’t expect too much – which is a shame.

These film makers should learn from their mistakes – I give you the Star Wars prequels – so if you are going to bring well loved characters back to the screen they owe the viewer a good and well made story. This story was OK (at a push), but not great.  As Simon said, the original films had supernatural elements, but this was “never entirely revealed in the films (much as the X-Files would later make its signature) made them vaguely thoughtful and compelling. Meanwhile, this latest offering goes right over that line with no apologies.”

So, on one hand it’s nice to see Indi back, but I do wish it had been in a better film.

9 Responses to Movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  1. m0ok says:

    I think if you haven’t watched the other Indy films recently, it’d be worth watching them again and reconsidering Crystal Skull in the light of that. Indy has alwasys been fantasy and ‘comic book’. And I don’t think the supernatural elements haven’t been as subtle as you and Simon do.

    At the end of Raiders the Ark of the Covenant supernaturally melts the skin off the bodies of a bunch of nazis (iincidentally Indy et bird escape being melted by shielding their faces from it, whereas the amount of heat that would have needed to be generated by the Ark would have given them serious burns at that distance)

    At the end of Last Crusade Indy meets a 1000 year old knight(!) and when the holy grail is taken beyond the seal of whatsisname the entire place starts to crack apart, rather unrealistically.

    Indy has always been comic-book and actually from what I hear, Crystal Skull could have been a lot more nuts – they toned down a lot of George’s ideas.

    I agree there are a lot of problems with the film – it’s a bit boring at the start and I’m not keen on the ending – and it didn’t live up to my hopeful expectations, but I still think it was better than Temple of Doom, which is just crap!

    And as I said on Simon’s blog, they’re films for kid, we watched them when we were kids and I’m sure kids will love Crystal Skull.

  2. m0ok says:

    “These film makers should learn from their mistakes – I give you the Star Wars prequels – so if you are going to bring well loved characters back to the screen they owe the viewer a good and well made story.”

    I completely agree. I actually think there was a good story in the Star Wars prequels. But Anakin Skywalker was badly cast – twice – and about half an hour of each of the three films should have been on the cutting room floor.

    I still think Episode 2 is a good film – but too long and very badly damaged by the fact that there’s zero chemistry between Anakin and Padme. Natalie Portman is a great actress – I’m not sure how Lucas managed to get such bad performances out of her in these movies.

    Episode 3 I actually really like. Apart from the continuing Hayden/Natalie problem and the Hayden/Acting problem, the only issue I have is the terrible final shot of Vader. “NooooOoOoOooOooOoOoo’. *cringe*

    But as a long-standing Star Wars fan, I know that we had been begging LUcas for these films for twenty years and he didn’t want to make him. He finally relents and then we turn on him, accusing him of destroying our childhood memories. Pretty harsh :)

    Plus, kids love the prequels (ecxept for the boring, talky bits).

  3. m0ok says:

    That line should have read:

    “And I don’t think the supernatural elements have been as subtle as you and Simon do.”

    That’s what I get for editing a sentence and not reading it properly.

  4. Ryan Dunne says:

    Comic book being used as a pejorative? For shame ;-)!

    Indy was always a pulp style hero and I don’t see much qualitive difference between that and comics. I know of people who like the original Star Wars but not the Star Wars saga because the original was “Spider-Man in space” whereas the other movies attempted to develop it into an epic fairy tale. I don’t think comics generally are guilty of throwing away any sense “of being on this planet”. Marvel’s classic characters had such impact because they had all the thrill of the genre but grounded them in reality (Spider-Man struggling with his rent etc).

    I was (and still am) a bigger OT Star Wars fan than anyone I know and like the prequels, and would emphasise that George Lucas is correct when he notes that the criticisms made of the prequels were also aimed at the originals. And he *is* trying to tell a serious political story (“this is how democracy dies, with thunderous applause”) instead of just churning out the sort of cookie-cutter “star wars movies” that the studio would prefer. Mook – every Star Wars movie has a “nooooooooooooooooooo!” and Vader’s birth was the best place to put one!

    I’m unapologetically monotheist but, looking dispassionately, the Alien element of Crystal Skull is far more plausible than a Nazi-killing Ark of the Covenant fuelled by the power of YHWH.

  5. grayza says:

    Hmm, Not wanting to defend my opinion but let me explain what I meant by this film being too ‘comic book’ for me. It is not about the story/plot line, but about the movie making technique.

    We are used to suspending disbelief in any Hollywood film – crashing cars and waling away unscathed, dodging bullets, surviving impossible situations and we can accept that because that is the type of movie. Then there is the type that goes even further beyond that so that it assumes different laws of physics for the meta-world that the story is set in, either for certain characters or for the way the world works.

    The example that comes to mind is the difference between the modern batman movies, where everything is larger than life but still obey to expected standards and the 60s batman where we see characters walking up the side of a building. Showing batman and robin climbing up an obviously fake building takes us as viewers out of the film and changes our perspective into that of someone sitting in a cinema – it breaks the illusion that what we are seeing is somewhat plausible. For me, this Indian Jones movie switched between these two modes far too quickly and often, didn’t know what kind of movie was being made and -jumped the shark.

    But this, of course, is just my opinion.

  6. Chris says:

    It was terrible. Someone needs to tell Lucas he can’t write anymore.

  7. Ryan Dunne says:

    Arguably, Lucas could never write. Harrison Ford’s “you can type this s- t but you can’t say it” was said of the original One True Star Wars.

  8. m0ok says:

    In fresh concrete in a pavement off sauchiehall street someone has written

    “Indiana 4 is good”

    That truth will outlast us all.


  9. Ryan Dunne says:

    Fair enough. You’re wrong about A Clockwork Orange too ;-).

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