I just got back from seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.” The movie was so hot it burnt up, literally! The movie ended up melting and they had to splice the film back together. We got free passes, which I intend to use tomorrow for “Narnia” most likely. I’m actually shocked that they still use film in this day and age, but I guess DVDs or anything of the like are too easily pirated.
So anyway, onto the film. I love the “Indiana Jones” movies, probably because I grew up in the 80s so everyone loved them back then. It’s just part of our movie culture along with “Star Wars.” I was excited about the new one, but honestly hadn’t really bothered to find out what the whole plot behind this one was. All I knew was that instead of fighting the Nazis, this time it was the Soviets. Oh and that his kid was going to be in this one, and his dad (Shawn Connery) was dead (because the actor wouldn’t come out of retirement). Therefor I don’t know how much about the story has been released, so I’ll try hard not to spoil it, or will at least give some warnings.
The movie takes place in 1957 and has Indiana embroiled in the Communist Red Scare at the university he teaches at. Some things happen at the beginning of the movie with the Communists, who force him to help them get an “artifact,” and therefore he becomes a suspect to the FBI. Then Shia Labeouf’s character shows up to get Indy to help him rescue an old college friend of Indy’s and his mom, both of whom have been kidnapped because of what the friend found. At first they don’t know they are father in son, that’s revealed later on by Marian, who returns for the film. So off they are on an adventure to find the Crystal Skull and El Dorado, the fabled City of Gold where the skull was stolen from, according to the legend. Of course like in most of the other films, the bad guys want their hands on it too. Why? Because it’s an ultimate source of power to be used as a weapon. Duh!
The good: It was an enjoyable action movie. There was a lot of suspenseful “Indy” situations, a lot of special effects, fighting, etc. Lots of creepy crawly gross bug moments. Oh the “Temple of Doom” grossness factor was brought back for this one, but no bloody hearts being ripped out this time. The humor was there too, most of it pretty good and not the “Jar Jar Binks” crapola that Lucas has done lately. The acting all around was superb. Harrison Ford clearly isn’t too old to be Indy, he’s just not as sexy anymore 😉 I could even tolerate Shia, who normally annoys me to no end. Seeing Karen Allen again as Marian is awesome. Cate Blanchet does a great job as the villian.
This actually is the most archaeological of all the movies, which also is going into the bad section in a bit. They actually throw a lot of real facts at you, old languages, real archaeological issues at one point involving “bodies” and even some archaeological theory is thrown in! The story, the story is also good and bad. As long as you take it for what it is, it’s a fun story and well thought out. Just don’t expect any realism at all. Yeah I know, Indy isn’t know for “keepin it real,” but this one pushes it even for Indy.
The bad: Basically the story is also the weak point. As I mentioned, this is the most archaeological of the movies, which is actually saying a lot if you think about it. They did some serious research this time around, but then they threw all of what we know archaeologically out the window for the big “twist” of the story. This probably will bother scholars and geeks more than the average movie goer than anyone really. A certain movie going segmant of the population will in fact love it. However I felt a bit let down. I am well aware that all the Indy movies deal with the impossible situations or the supernatural in a way, but this one I think pushed it a little too far. At this point I’ll place a marker in the page for those who want to keep on reading about what annoyed me. Only slight slight spoilers are given, nothing that ruins the fun of the movie. Honestly, it can hardly be considered ruining the “twist” when the movie itself does that in the first ten minutes basically. Again, this “twist” may have been spilled in a lot of reviews or stories on the movie as is for all I know.
The movie, in a nutshell, is about aliens. Yes, I said aliens, as it outer space. The movie plays into the whole Kurt Vonegan “Chariot of the Gods” theory. This guy is often shown on the Sci-Fi channel, sometimes Discovery, with his specials. Even if you don’t know the guy, the theory and never saw the specials; you still have probably heard the theory somewhere. It’s the idea that aliens came down and taught the Egyptians and the Mayans and basically all the fabulous old civilizations how to build things and do stuff. The problem with this is of course we know it’s crap. We know now they all learned what they knew by experimenting and building over hundreds of years. If aliens did come down to talk to them, they didn’t seem to give them much help speeding them on their way to learning how to make these great pyramids and cities.
That’s what really annoyed me about the film. Not only did I think it was a cop out archaeologically, but it was a cop out to Indy in a way. Like I said before, in the other films the artifacts always had some supernatural aspect to them, but they were at least rooted in earth and our history and culture. This time Lucas decided to just go to much into the stars, and Spielberg who directed it gladly went along for the ride (I mean ET, Close Encounters, hello!).