Movie: Welcome Back Doctor Jones
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]