I wanted to like this, I really did. And I kinda like parts of it, but overall, not so much…
Let’s start with the bad and get that out of the way…The best way I can describe the experience of watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that it’s like watching a good Beatles tribute band. It’s cool, but it’s not the real thing.
Rumor has it that Sean Connery was asked to reprise his role as Henry Jones Sr. but said no because he didn’t like the script. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I would understand if it is true. The whole film feels like an afterthought. It’s just kind of hammered together formulaically in Indiana Jones style. Which I guess is why you watch it but in this case, it’s got a manufactured vibe. The characters in the movie feel more like caricatures of themselves and either seem like they’re phoning it (Harrisong Ford as Indy) in or trying too hard (Shia LeBouf as Mutt Williams). Either way, Steven Spielberg is the one steering the ship and he seems to have fallen into the same lackluster trap.
One last side note about the script: Shia’s character (who apparently watched a lot of Happy Days and really, really liked Fonzie) asks Indy at one point about scorpion bites. To which Indy emits some reply about the scorpion’s size affecting the potency of it’s “bite”. You’d think that someone with Indy’s background (and Spielberg’s experience) would know that scorpions sting, not bite. That was such a bad exchange that it knocked me out of my brief suspension-of-disbelief state. Just as the segment of Lebouf swinging through the jungle with his wrangled attack monkies did (no shit, that happens).
I could keep going on and on about how the gags are really repetitive as is much of the concept, dialog, booby traps, etc. and how it ends with a contrived alien ending (did he REALLY have to dig into that dry well again?), but I won’t! I’ll shut up about it being over the top too! And I won’t mention how it’s trying too hard to up the last installment (Last Crusade was MUCH bigger and better)! And I’ll move on to nice stuff…
Cate Blanchett rules in anything she does. She’s utilized in the standard villain ways (eyes burning and everything) which is a bit of a drag as she only gets to show off her talents here and there when she could’ve used more backstory and character establishment. She’s fun to watch and entertaining, always.
Karen Allen is back and provides a nice connection to a character that brings the storyline full circle with a warm, fuzzy familiarity. The dynamic between Indy and Marion is fun to watch and comes to a happy hollywood ending smoothly thanks to some chemistry that’s still left between the two.
It still made a gazillion dollars, so what the hell do I know? It’s still fun to watch but I would just wait for it to be on USA Network again.
reviewed by Sean McKnight