Movie Review: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

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It’s been 19 years since the fedora-wearing, wise-cracking, whip-snapping Indiana Jones last graced our screens, and so his return comes with as much trepidation as it does excitement.

It also makes Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull a hard film to write a review for – it’s not often that a beloved franchise from your childhood gets a sequel made this long after its original trilogy was closed.

Let’s not forget how the Star Wars prequels were wasted opportunities.

So does Indy 4 shine like the Ark of the Covenant? Or does it stink like a 700-year-old knight?

Well, the good news is that the film is good fun; Harrison Ford fits back into the role as if he never left and it’s not long before he’s running around avoiding bad guys and punching people in the face.

The film brings some new characters along as well. Cate Blanchett plays the evil Russian soldier Spalko who masters the evil stare but doesn’t offer a lot else. Elsewhere, Shia LaBeouf, or The Beef as we like to call him, brings suitable pent-up aggression and naivety to the role that makes the chemistry between him and Ford a high point.

Talking of chemistry, Karen Allen is back as Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and her scenes with Indy are great.

Not so great is Ray Winstone, whose role is little more than shouting “Indy!” and getting punched in the nose. It’s not his fault, but his character is a pointless addition to a bulky cast.

Normally, a bigger ensemble cast of such high pedigree actors leads us to shout for joy, but the filmmakers know, as we do, that this is a film based around one person – Indiana – and so characters like Winstone’s and John Hurt‘s make little impact in the short amount of time they’re given.

In fact, unneeded characters are just one bulletpoint on a list of things that stop the film becoming the classic we all hoped it would be.

There’s the much talked about ‘Tarzan’ moment that was certainly a bad choice to include in the film, as well as the lacklustre ending, which had us leaving the cinema with a bad taste in our mouths. Plus, we feel that Lucas and Spielberg misjudged the mystery aspect of the series.

A lot of the film does work, though. The chemistry between the main characters is top notch, as you would hope, and the action set-pieces are all very good in their own way. Again though, it feels like an opportunity has been missed and someone has forgotten the point somewhere along the line.

A motorbike chase in the film is a standout set piece as we can see it revolves around stunt work and practical effects, unlike later on in the film when a truck chase is filled with some CGI that, while good, certainly doesn’t have the charm and suspense of the more realistic stunts in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Overall though, we do recommend seeing this. It’s not as good as the previous entries but still has its high points. It’s unfortunate, however, that many of its low points come towards the end of the film and let it down so much. It’s great to see Indy back on the big screen and it’s a fun ride that, like its counterparts, isn’t to be taken too seriously. Go see it, enjoy it and hope for another sequel that will finish of the franchise with a bang rather than a whimper.

[story by David Scarborough]

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Comments

  1. tularosa says

    this movie was the worst!!! Painfully stupid. The producer/director are out of touch, assuming. And you know what they say about assume.

  2. says

    I took my family to see it on Memorial Day and enjoyed it thoroughly. Many of the stunts were unbelievable, but if you saw the original movie, stunts beyond belief should be expected. At least now we know that when CNN tells us a nuclear warhead is heading our way, we only need to find a circa 1955 refrigerator.

  3. David Scarborough says

    Well at least we can all walk away from the film with one historical face: Monkeys hate Communists!

  4. Brandon Corfeld says

    Overall, i thought it was a Excellent film. Hasn’t lost its great touch. The stunts were great, I thought new characters introduced were awesome, and The story line was good….. UNTIL THE END. The ending wasnt that impressive. It went weird, and aliens were involved in it, dont really suit the film. It was really disappointing. At one point before i saw the aliens, i said ” woah, this is as good as the other Indiana Films,” Then when it came to the ending, I just stared at the screen in disbelief

  5. says

    Instead of looking for the “crystal skull”, Indy and his less than amusing entourage should have been looking for a script. 19 years for this? There are some fun chase sequences in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” but the story is a confusing mess and there is no chemistry between characters who really weren’t all that interesting to begin with. I am also one who believes that Indy works better alone or maybe even with one sidekick. Not three. There are moments in this movie that are so bad, it looks as if a high school drama team is doing their version of “Indiana Jones”. I will leave you with a couple of positives. There is enough action and a few of the sets are amazing enough to keep your brain active throughout the whole picture but after 19 years, I was expecting a lot more than I received.

  6. Stabby McGee says

    Next person to say something about monkeys hating communists, as though it’s something they just made up and nobody has heard it dozens of unfunny times before, gets an even more sternly-worded comment on the internet from me.

    Seriously, though: shut the fuck up.

  7. David Scarborough says

    Obviously not everybody is a forum troll like yourself Stabby. There’s no originality with wit and the internet these days, somebodys always two steps ahead!

  8. Stabby McGee says

    I never knew that hearing people talk and reading magazines qualified me as a forum troll. And for the record, please shut the fuck up.

  9. David Scarborough says

    Well at least I’ve been put in my place. Heaven forbid me using a joke other people have! If this was forbidden I think E4 would have gone out of business a long time ago.

  10. Stuart Heritage says

    Oooh – new and valued writer vs old and valued commentor. This should be fun. Take sides, everyone.

  11. euclid says

    Fiver on Stabby (till he gets a swell head,
    then Young Scabby in the late rounds with
    an unexpected (and heretofor undemonstrated)
    witty remark setting the score near even).

    After all votes tally, it’s Stabby in a judges decision;
    crowd boos, throws Milk Duds at the monitor then
    returns to leaving incoherent posts about Pantera.

  12. gir says

    I didn’t get that it was a joke and, in fact, thought it was a reference to the Nazi Monkey from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Remember Nazi Monkey? Here lies Nazi Monkey, poisoned by a date, but he was a real asshole to Marion so to hell with Nazi Monkey.

  13. Stabby McGee says

    Ha, I didn’t even notice that Mr Scarborough was the article writer (I assumed it was Mr Schwartz). I just assumed he was some random commenter. For the record, I’ve got no issue with the article itself.

    But the forum troll comeback? Just weak. You’re going to have to toughen that chin if you’re going to be around here very long.

  14. Joke Police says

    Well at least we can all walk away from this awkward misunderstanding with one historical fact: Monkeys hate Communists! Oh, and Stabbies hate being called trolls.

    How does D-Scarb get promoted to a proper byline as opposed to ‘hecklerspray staff’? An unseemly row with a HS regular seems a controversial profile-raising move…

  15. spring message says

    i have a feeling the horrible components were the works of lucas. how does tarzan and aliens fit into indiana jones?

    how can we ensure the producers/directors know they did a bad job? box office sales will be huge because everyone wants to see it for themselves. can dvd rentals/purchases actually send a message?

  16. David Scarborough says

    I think Spielberg will realise just by general fan reaction and reviews. It just simply wasn’t a strong enough ‘McGuffin’ as Lucas calls them. It was still fun though and the character was still great and it was worth seeing just for his return even if it was a lacklustre storyline.

  17. says

    George Lucas = Aliens and off shit like that. He had to stamp his authority somewhere in the film.

    Was all right till the random Tarzan reference. I still don’t understand where all the trackers/bugs were put on them and how the devices survived being drowned in the waterfalls.

    I can’t wait for the imminent Indiana Jones spin offs involving his kid.

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