9.03.2008

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

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
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I'm always a little surprised whenever I ask someone whether or not they ever saw the episode of Gilligan's Island where they actually get off the island. They think I'm joking, but I'm not. It's the last episode. They get off the island, they see how miserable their lives are off the island, and then they go back to the island again. It's really the only reasonable way to end the series (if you don't believe me, just take a look at the recent seasons of LOST). At the same time, it's incredibly depressing. The actors are old, they haven't matured, and they don't want to. The episode exists within a universe where nothing changes, no one acknowledges their age despite being noticeably restricted by it.

In many ways, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is somewhat similar to Gilligan's last voyage.
Indy has aged. That's not a bad thing at all. Harrison Ford looks fantastic. In fact, he doesn't seem affected at all despite a few charming line slurs. His hat and whip function just as beautifully as they did twenty years ago.

Somehow though, this worries me. Just take a look at video games these days. The newest Metal Gear Solid game features the central character Solid Snake as a man swiftly approaching sixty in his physical stamina. His playability is affected by this as well. In movies we have heroes such as John McLane in the recent Die Hard at least stop to catch his breath. Even the last Indiana Jones dealt with an aging Sean Connery in search of the Holy Grail, a noticeable (if not slight) commentary on age and invulnerability.

The newest Indiana Jones hardly even stops to acknowledge the fact that it has been a few years. Sure, Indy's friends are older and he's got a younger sidekick at his side, but Indy himself sprints across high beams and swings into trucks without even a pause for breath.
Sure, you might say realism has hardly been a factor for these films, and with Indy hopping into fridges in the midst of nuclear blasts it still isn't. The fact of the matter here is that Indiana Jones as a film does not acknowledge it's limitations with a wise or discerning eye. Age is a universal struggle, time itself is a force to be reckoned with, but the film neglects it and misses some wonderful opportunities.

The film cannot decide whether it wants the "Anything Goes" personality of Temple of Doom, or the introspective family interaction from the Last Crusade. As it stands, the film is jumbled, relying on chuckle inducing gimmicks or overwhelming special effects.

I was all for the nuclear blasts, the waterfall plunges, even interstellar travel, but the film itself didn't even really seem to buy into them. Maybe it's the "Myth Buster" generation of today, but the film just didn't have it's heart in the full-fledged fantasy and it's somewhat shallow character interaction wasn't nearly as charming or memorable. It needed more characters to play off of the stereotypes, more close calls. It needed to buy into it's own created universe, but it didn't.

As it stands, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is just a fun popcorn thriller. You won't remember it for any melting faces, chilled monkey brains, burning hearts, or rapidly aging nazi's.
Although I must say the snake-rope was just retarded enough to win me over.
It's worth a rental.

3 comments:

Indiana Jones Costume said...

Wonderful review man! I like the way you view the movie, age is such big issue, it's sad too specially in snake's case, such hopelessness.

Indiana Jones was alright, it could of used more thought in the script when they made it.

Zack Newcott said...

Thanks so much! It's true, poor poor solid snake.

Thomas Watson said...

This is one must-watch movie for anybody who has had the opportunity to watch the other movies in this franchise. Thumbs up all the way.