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Movie: Welcome Back Doctor Jones

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, regardless of what you may have heard, is an Indiana Jones movie through and through – I’d even go as far as to defy all the internet gods and place it an equal second along side the third instalment, The Last Crusade. Yeah, that’s right! You heard me!

Is Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (IJ4) the most brilliant movie ever made? Pfft, NO! But then, neither are any of the other Indiana Jones movies. What they are is damn good fun. IJ4 has the pace of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the adventure feel of Last Crusade (Raiders always felt more like an action movie to me). New characters are introduced, old ones return and those who have passed on — both in the context of the movie and in real life — are given a moment of remembrance. Like Last Crusade, Crystal Skull has a subtext about family and repairing rifts: Karen Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood, the only woman capable of keeping up with Indy, and Shia LaBeouf is introduced as Indy’s new side kick, Mutt Williams (Are you getting the connection there? Mutt.. dog… Indy got his name from the family dog.. eh, eh!?).

The movie isn’t without fault, some of the CGI is utterly appalling, the lighting in some scenes appears to have been set up by the work experience kid, some of the action sequences are ridiculously implausible, the script is clunky, the plot is predictable and there are those trade mark Lucas/Spielberg attempts at distracting humour all over the place.. You know the ones I mean: In Star Wars they consisted of a Droid making a stupid ‘WEeeeEEEeee’ sound whenever it was in danger, or the slapstick crappiness of a family dinner interrupted by some guys jet-pack fighting in Minority Report (I could go on, but wont). In this case, the culprits are Gophers and (bad CGI) Monkeys.

There’s one thing though. One element of the plot of this film that I can tell people are going to latch onto and point at and say “WHAT THE HELL???” – and I’m going to tell you what it is too… but not before I reflect back on some of the events of the previous movies first, which will hopefully put that ‘what the hell???’ element into some perspective. I guess you can consider that last passage as something of a spoiler alert, but in reality I’m keeping the details to a minimum.

In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy finds the ark of the covenant. When the ark is opened all hell breaks loose (if you’ll pardon the expression), a Nazi’s face melts, another’s head explodes, while a third suffers from a sudden onset of emaciation. Beams of light shoot out of the ark and energy beings start floating all around the shop… Ultimately Indy and his posse are the only ones left alive.

The subsequent films have all presented us with similarly fantastic events: In Temple of Doom Mola Ram sticks his hand into the chest of a human sacrifice and removes the man’s heart, and in The Last Crusade we meet up with Sir Richard, a Knight from the original crusade who’s life has been extended (some 800 odd years) by drinking from the Holy Grail.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull makes the leap from mystical to science fiction and while I personally find the latter more palatable than the previous, I’m sure that there are many people who will find the presentation of alien elements to be outside the scope of the Indiana Jones universe. For me though, this leap is no more fantastic than the elements so acceptable in the first three films. Actually, I find the notion far less fantastic, but that’s just me… well, me and Erich von Däniken.

To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of George Lucas and can often be heard using terminology that would make a sailor blush to describe him and some of his recent shenanigans. I must concede that I was not expecting to enjoy Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I had planned to unleash a tirade of vial hatred in Lucas’ general direction once I’d gotten home from this screening… Sadly I’ll have to save that rant for another time (It’s coming Lucas… you can count on it!).

All I can do at this point is recommend that you don’t go looking for the holy grail, because you wont find it in this film. Instead leave your expectations at the door and just allow yourself to be taken on a cheesy adventure that you can have fun with. [source]

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    In one of the trailers I saw some pretty shoddy CGI, and while I have yet to see the movie (and i will) I’m wondering how a combination of Speilberg’s people and ILM managed to produce crap imagery.

    I’m scared :/ More scared than I was of the Temple of Doom at age 5.

  • In particular, the monkeys (when they start interacting with people) stand out as being poorly animated – they look cartoony.

    But there’s also another part of the same sequence, where two of the characters are sword fighting on moving vehicles, and the physics is all wrong… it’s almost like the people haven’t been composited into the scene properly (poorly tracked), or that they were using harnesses and it looks like they’re floating around (the particular shot I’m talking about is looking down at the action from an angle).

  • It sounds like between the hype and the anticipation, this one has let you down.

    When the first Indiana Jones movie came out, there was a real ‘boy’s own’ adventure about it. I never expected these movies were to be entirely believable, just a good, old fashioned, adventure ride.

    I can overlook minimal plot holes, character flaws and subtle CGI glitches, but too many bad reviews can spoil the whole ride.

    I’ll stack this one on my ‘to do’ list next to Iron Man.

  • I didn’t intend for this to be a ‘bad’ review of this film Macca. If anything my intention was to put things into perspective.

    There’s been so much hype about this film, that people seemed to forget what the other films were like. For mine, this movie is a valid addition to the Indiana Jones franchise – better than Temple of Doom, about as good as Last Crusade, no where near Raiders.

    By all means check this movie out, but go there knowing what to expect – it’s the only way you’ll enjoy yourself.

    That said… Iron Man kicks it’s butt – and in many ways, beats it at it’s own game.

  • Heh, I agree. I thought it fit in well with the other IJ movies. I saw a comment on the other day talking about the jump to science fiction being in line with the decade it was set in. During the 40s it was Nazis/religious overtones and in the 60s it’s Soviets/ET.

    I like adventure movies. There aren’t enough of them these days (no wait, there aren’t enough *good* ones around – though you could say that for any genres, the real gems are few and far between). My point is moot.

  • If this is to be the start of a new trilogy (And I certainly hope it is), I really don’t hope they go all-the-way SciFi on it… Don’t get me wrong, I loved the fact they went with the whole Chariots of the Gods stuff – grew up reading that as a kid, and love shows like Stargate which do the same thing of combining the mythological, technological and supernatural elements into one seamless creation.

    I don’t know where they could go next, but given the end of the film, the game has changed somewhat… Things are goin gto be different in Indy 5 (once again, assuming there will be Indy 5)

    And again; Fucking loved it. Was expecting to have fun, and I had way more.

  • The seeming emphasis on the various dodgy CGI animals made me start to wonder… is something else really going on?

    Then the monkeys started to attack the Russians – I’m still not sure why exactly?

    So I’m thinking… maybe this Mutt has some weird connection with dodgy CGI animals that will save the day, and perhaps be explained in some sort of awkward fashion – much like a bad Star Trek episode with a heavy dosage of technobabble.

    “Oh fuck, look you put in the Dilithium Crystal in BACKWARDS you idiot LaForge! There we go… go go Warp 9!”

    But how’d the dodgy CGI gophers fit into things? Perhaps Mutt has some sort of collective conciousness with all animals, sort of like the Borg… so he was actually looking through the eyes of those Gophers watching what was going on, getting things into position to save the day at the end.

    …or perhaps it was just bad CGI, a bit of a plothole, and some bad direction.

    Either way really.

    So yeah I thought it was a fun Indy-style-adventure-romp movie too.