Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

(2008)

At the height of the Cold War in 1957, the now quiet archaeologist Henry Jones Jr. (a.k.a. Indiana) is thrust back into danger. The signature dotted red line tracing across the map will take him to New Mexico, Connecticut, Mexico City and the jungles of Peru on a quest for a South American relic with supernatural powers – the Crystal Skull.... More

He’s racing alongside young rebel Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and former flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) for the prize against operatives from the Soviet Union, including Cate Blanchett as the seductive Agent Spalko, and Ray Winstone as an unethical rival archaeologist. Some say the skulls themselves are shaped by extraterrestrial powers.Hide

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Flicks Review

The first time I had contact with Indiana Jones was in 1993 when I taped the Friday Night Movie on TV2 and watched it first thing on Saturday morning. It was The Last Crusade, and I loved it. I immediately became interested in archaeology, or at least the idea of archaeology. I went to my school library, got out a book on ancient treasures and read it from cover to cover. Later that year I watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It was creepy, with all that ripping out of hearts. I loved the minecart chase and the rope-bridge climax. Raiders of the Lost Ark came soon after that, capping the trilogy for me in reverse order. And there was even the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series.

After many years of watching and re-watching these films on my worn VHS tapes, I come to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There's a massive level of anticipation. I haven't been this excited since The Phantom Menace was released in 1999.

Fans will should reassured right from the start - the retro Paramount logo is just like it was in the 80s. It's clear that this film has been made as a slice of nostalgia, featuring many references to the previous films. But it's the new stuff that's most exciting. I loved the 50s setting, in the age of Atomic testing and communist blacklisting. After opening with Elvis' Hound Dog on the soundtrack as a car full of carefree students pursues a military convoy along a Nevada desert road, we soon turn up at the infamous Area 51. An early highpoint comes when Jones escapes into a mock town, set up for a nuclear bomb test, moments before detonation. It's a fresh idea for the franchise, and a welcome one.

Shia LaBeouf is great as flick-knife wielding 'greaser' Mutt Williams, who values his motorcycle more than his education. It's not hard to imagine this character reprised in further films, perhaps even on a solo outing. Cate Blanchett's villainous psychic Russian scientist is hammy in true pulp fashion, but Ray Winstone’s piggish Cockney archeologist could have been used more. John Hurt plays a role that's like Ben Gunn from Treasure Island – in short, a babbling fool. Harrison Ford proves he can still play an action hero. He makes for an older, wiser Indiana Jones - more world-weary and melancholic.

But (and this is a most unwelcome 'but') there is something ultimately underwhelming about this film. I've been struggling to put my thoughts into words for several days.

Have I become a film snob? In the years since discovering these Jones movies, have I moved away from a love of these serial adventure blockbusters, and replaced it with obscure arty nonsense? Has the negative opinion on creator George Lucas and the harsh treatment of his Star Wars prequels clouded my judgement? Have I simply outgrown the target demographic these films are aimed at?

In fact, I'd say that the precise reason for my uneasy feeling about the fourth Indiana Jones adventure is due to far too many moments feeling downright fake, e.g. the vine swinging and the fridge escape. The frequent dives in a vehicle over waterfalls just go beyond unbelievable; it's as if Indiana Jones has actually become invincible – he's hardly even gasping for air when they surface. Stunts are only impressive when we know that real people are actually performing them. Spielberg seems to have underestimated the audience in this respect.

The pulpy cliffhanger action works best when pulled off in the retro style. The motorcycle chase through Marshall College, as Dr Jones is pursued by Russian spies, is probably the best sequence. Such a feat could actually be pulled off in real life, giving it a credibility that the CGI sequences lack.

This CG-specific complaint comes, of course, from a hugely demanding Indiana Jones fan. To be fair, Crystal Skull is packed to the brim with fun and action, and should be noted for revealing a more mature side to Dr Jones. I had fun, and I've already seen it twice.

But ultimately, and sadly, I have to admit that Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is not quite the brilliant adventure I was hoping for. The story, characters, locations, music and direction are great, and the 50s Cold War setting is terrific, but the frequent trips into over-the-top territory sadly mean this adventure is flawed. In attempt to wow those of us who have 'seen it all', Spielberg has tried to up the ante and has pushed our suspension of disbelief to breaking point.


Reviewed by Andrew Hedley

The Peoples' Reviews

Average ratings from 18 ratings, 16 reviews
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Sure it make have a bit unrealistic parts in it, but he is INDIANA JONES, hes an action hero, basically invincible. To understand the ending, you need to think about it. Most people just go, What? Thats a bloody stupid ending then forget about it, however, since when would a Crystal Skull NOT be alien-like? I think people just need to stop going on about its bad-points and just enjoy it. It was truly better than The Dark Knight.

If you want a good movie, go see this, Please don't make the... More foolish choice of skipping this movie.Hide


Sure it make have a bit unrealistic parts in it, but he is INDIANA JONES, hes an action hero, basically invincible. To understand the ending, you need to think about it. Most people just go, What? Thats a bloody stupid ending then forget about it, however, since when would a Crystal Skull NOT be alien-like? I think people just need to stop going on about its bad-points and just enjoy it. It was truly better than The Dark Knight.

If you want a good movie, go see this, Please don't make the... More foolish choice of skipping this movie.Hide


Without offering spoilers for those still yet to see this “film”, this is certain not the film Indiana Jones fans were expecting. The anticipation built up over the past 17 odd years (since Indiana Jones and the last crusade) awaiting a fourth installment for the franchise saw the rejection of the praised and hailed Frank Darabont script and another tremendously dire script from the king of disastrous popcorn dialogue, George Lucas.
For those who grew up with and followed the Indiana... More Jones franchise and are/were expecting more of the same prepare for disappointment. With flash over substance, bland dialogue, an overly science fiction storyline, too much emphasis on CGI and cute furry computer generated animals this film is an Indiana Jones movie in name only. Much of the story revolves around an obvious plot device which is, as I stated obvious from the entrance of Shia LaBeouf’s character (without wanting to spoil the story, I sure most are already aware of what I’m referring to). Sadly a stellar cast merely trend around an abortion of a script simply waiting to get paid for their efforts, and none will hold their heads up proudly as profound cinematic moments in (some cases) decade spanning careers. Karen Allen returning as Marion Ravenwood is nothing but a background filler to offer a scream once in a while and some badly hashed lines before scurrying back into a usually static background of other actors awaiting their lines. The same can be said of many of this cast, with perhaps Ray Winstone being the exclusion as his character seems to be the only one developed if at all.
In all honesty I left the cinema disappointed, which forced me to don a fedora and whip to scour the internet for the long lost archeological relic known as the Darabont script.Hide


The first half of the fourth instalment is quite good. The typical deepening mystery is handled well, as is the snappy dialogue between the two rough-edged leads.

Then we descend into morbid cartoon nonsense as poor over-the-top CGI (I swear that technology has only worsened since Spielberg gave us the solid effort of Jurassic Park a dozen or so years ago...) lowers one of the great adventure franchises in film to the level of Alien vs Predator.

Thank goodness Harrison Ford has still got... More that screen charisma working.Hide


I must admit, i was rather excited about this one. Unfortunately, i may have set my expectations too high.

I would definitely say enjoyable, just not great, so only 3 stars for me (time to go and see Iron Man again, that will cheer me up) :)


Showing 5 of 16 reviews. See all reviews

The Press Reviews

78% of critics recommend.
Rotten Tomatoes Score. More reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

  • And you may disagree – but that’s fine. Indiana Jones is about nostalgia, that’s what it was conceived from. It’s suppose to be the joy of all that stuff from George and Steven’s childhoods. Their heroes reborn in the most awesome hero of their age – given adventures that only the 21st Century’s whiz-banggery could produce...There’s a lot of magic in this film. A lot of it. I don’t think you have to be a chapter and verse fan of Indiana Jones to love it. Yes, LOVE IT. I think you just have to let go, believe and be willing to have another adventure with INDIANA JONES… because nobody, anywhere does it like Indy. Full Review

  • 1/2 It's not a great movie, but it ticks all the boxes for Indy fans. It's one last chance to enjoy the world's favourite relic-seeking archaeologist before he, himself, becomes a relic. Full Review

  • A slick, fun film that has by no means sacrificed the fast action beats of the first three. Full Review

  • Director Steven Spielberg seems intent on celebrating his entire early career here. Whatever the story there is, a vague journey to return a spectacular archeological find to its rightful home -- an unusual goal of the old grave-robber, you must admit -- gets swamped in a sea of stunts and CGI that are relentless as the scenes and character relationships are charmless. Full Review

  • As it turns out, it's not whether Harrison Ford is too old to be cracking the whip. Playing the movies' greatest archaeologist-adventurer 19 years after his supposed "Last" Crusade, Ford might be ancient. But he's hardly a ruin. Sure his timing on the occasional punchline might be off but the hat still fits. Full Review

  • A wee flat patch in the middle, and a Tarzan moment best left on the editing room floor took the shine off it a little, but otherwise, welcome back Indy. Full Review

  • Indiana Jones' fourth adventure is as rip roaring as we would expect, dotted with little jokey bits and a dash of Close Encounters of the Third Kind kind of thing... The first two Indiana Jones films are still the best, but Spielberg meets most of our expectations. Full Review