Saturday, May 24, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) dir. Steven Spielberg. Spoilers!

It is impossible to write an impartial review of this movie. An entire generation of men and women love Indiana Jones. Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the first movies I can remember seeing in the theater. In Second Grade I wrote a story titled Indiana Jones vs the Great White Shark. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was the first movie I saw in the theater by myself. My father, Grandfather, and I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade more than several times together. Indiana Jones was the template upon which I built my ideas of what it meant to be a man. Indiana Jones was my hero.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a disappointment. Not a total disappointment but in some ways that makes it worse. I can forgive Indy for leaving a pregnant Marion. I can forgive his weary distrust of the Atomic Age and eventual pathetic death from radiation sickness. I can forgive Cate Blanchett's "Moose and Squirrel" accent. I can forgive the poor misuse of both John Hurt and Ray Winstone. I can forgive John Williams' piss poor rehashed cues and themes. Hell, I can even forgive "The Beef".

What I can't forgive is the fact that the magic is gone. Who said that this story, that this script, was worth a mummer's fart? Who said, "Yeah, this is good."? Who said, "This is worthy of a final Indiana Jones movie."? That person should have a rabid badger attatched to their taint. Before Amanda and I left the theater we looked at one another and said, "Aliens? Really?". On the ride back to the hotel all we could say was, "Aliens? Really?". From the beginning of the movie there was little mystery about what the plot device was. 1957. Area 51. "Okay, maybe it's going to be a race to unlock an alien superweapon that..." Wait. What? Alien superweapon? When did Indiana Jones get all Chariots of the Gods? Yeah, we'll just white wash the Judeo-Christian mumbo jumbo of the first and third movies and...aliens? Really? Are you sure it wasn't midichlorians? From there the movie just kind of staggers along ticking off marks on the Indiana Jones checklist. The problem is that it doesn't. Crystal Skull doesn't have the mystery, thrill, excitement, "How's Indy gonna escape this time?", or fun of the earlier installments. Amanda said she looked at my face several times during the movie and said that I went from, "YAY! to eh."

There are moments of goodness in Crystal Skull. Most of these moments involve Indy using phrases and mannerisms his father used - i.e. "This is intolerable!". There are moments between Indy and Marion which capture the fire of Raiders. "The Beef" is often being beaten and pummeled and made to look foolish. The Atomic Cafe theme running through the begininng of the movie is pretty neat. Marion is in it. Indy never loses his hat.

Some reviewers have said that if you just take Crystal Skull for what it is worth and go for the ride then you'll enjoy the movie. Fuck that. I'm gonna pretend that this installment never happened and you're talking to a guy whose favorite is Temple of Doom.

Aliens? Really?

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