Monday, December 12, 2011

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Famed archaeologist Indiana Jones is forced to assist the KGB- who are assisted by none other than Jones's own partner- in recovering a box of "remains" about which he knows virtually nothing, only to be enlisted by default into a mission which involves racing the same group to return a crystal skull to the fabled city of El Dorado. I am probably the only person above the age of 12 to have seen this movie before seeing any of the older entries to the series. Thankfully, Harrison Ford picks up as though we've been together all this time. For the beginning scenes of the movie, the familiarity I felt with this character was so striking that at any moment I expected a witty repartee with his Wookiee copilot. This was only reinforced when I was certain they were running a chase through the forest moon of Endor.

 As usual, Ford excelled and his character was by far the most believable on the screen- and no, I don't think that's just Star Wars bias talking. Shia Lebeouf did well enough- assuming that he was written to be the giant douche that I assume he was. I've seen him play an incompetent street boy and an incompetent sidekick- here I got to see him play an incompetent wannabe badass and a surprisingly competent Tarzan. Yes, Shia Letarzan. Don't ask me what they were thinking- I'm not entirely certain that I want to know. Suffice it to say that I flinched. Anyway, Shia definitely did a better job than his reputation on the net- I have yet to see him attempt a role as a competent character, though. So, the premise.

 Yeah... ever seen Alien vs Predator? Well, take out the horror and make it adventure, and you got this. Is it really that hard to believe that the Aztecs and Mayans were smarter than the Europeans? Does it always have to be aliens? Seriously, the psychic chick would have been alright if she weren't combined with this. The actual searching part was pulled off decently. It doesn't stand out from a dozen other "solve the puzzle, hop a plane and find the prize" storylines, but it doesn't fail in that department either. Shia almost gets his butt kicked, Indy shows he's got enough fight left in him to make up for it, and a would-be assassin ends up sucking his own poison dart (which somehow managed to turn around inside the tube). There's a semi-cool, semi-cheesy swordfight complete with mother commentary, and there's some comic relief from the Professor whose brains were apparently absorbed by the Crystal Skull- until they come back.

 All in all, it was pretty good. Ford was excellent, a few things were simply unnecessary or ridiculous, and the rest was in between. How much I recommend this movie falls along the lines of how I would recognize Temple of Doom (at least, ignoring the more horrific elements). It's not the best Indy story, but it's a stupid action movie that gives us Indiana Jones one last time. Take that, and make your own decision if it's a movie you might want to watch.

  Bill Silvia is a regular contributor at Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews. You can find more of his work at


Bob Milne said...

I know it took a lot of heat for the alien element (not to mention nuking the fridge), but I quite enjoyed it.

Personally, I didn't find the alien any more or less fantastic than the ark of the covenant or the holy grail. Why stick to one mythology when then are so many potential maguffins out there.

Allison said...

I actually refused to see this movie because of all the bad reviews it got and I didn't want my love of Indiana Jones tainted! With this review, perhaps I will change my mind...

Allison (Geek Banter)

SQT said...

I think the only way you can really enjoy this movie is if you didn't grow up on the original Indy series. This one doesn't fit properly. Maybe it's Lebouf--and Bill makes an excellent point about the fact that the kid isn't hired to look competent-- so it's even more inexplicable that he'd be cast as Indy's kid.

I didn't mind the whole alien thing, though it also didn't feel consistent with the rest of the series. But it added to the feeling that the whole story was contrived. It's obvious it was only meant to pass the torch to another generation (and hopefully another leading man) but it was so hackneyed and poorly done. It certainly didn't have the charm that introducing Indy's dad did.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I really liked this movie. I know some die-hard Indie fans complained because it deviated so much from the standard fare. But it needed to. I mean Indiana is old times needed to change from the 1930's when the other films were set. I don't know if you could survive being inside a refrigerator like he did. However, none of that matters. The point is that it was a good story and we got to see Indiana happily married at the end. I also like that he has a son. This gives him a kind of fulfillment that I thought he was lacking.