23 May 2008
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
The new Indiana Jones film premiered today in Korea. I've been a fan of the Indiana Jones films since my dad bought the VHS tapes at Burger King (Yeah, I know. Random.), so I definitely had to see Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in theaters. Perhaps Indiana Jones is just much more exciting on VHS, but I must regretfully report that the fourth installment was quite a disappointment.
Here's my synopsis (I don't know what you've read online, but I may reveal a few spoilers. Don't worry though. I won't reveal anything big):
The film starts off in Nevada, 1957. Soviet soldiers overtake a U.S. military base that has conveniently been evacuated for top secret weapons testing. The soldiers pop open the trunk of one of their vehicles to reveal Dr. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford, duh) and his British cohort, George "Mac" McHale (played by an actor that I don't recognize). Both men are bound and bruised. The Soviet agents, led by a raven-haired Cate Blanchett, force Indy to track down a particular crate in a warehouse of thousands of crates. With the help of a mysteriously strong (yet selective) magnetic force, Indy manages to track down the crate. The crate reads, "Roswell" and contains a metal coffin. They open the coffin, and unfortunately, it's not Max Evans. Instead, within the coffin lies a mangled non-human corpse. Then, cue the theme song, and it's time for Indy's first big action sequence. Indy eventually manages to evade the grasps of those evil Commies thanks to a NUCLEAR BOMB!?!
Indy survives and is taken in for questioning by government agents in suits. Thanks to the big Commie Crackdown of the 1950s, Indy is suspected of being a Communist sympathizer and as a result, is asked to take an extended leave of absence from his teaching position. Now, this plot point I just described isn't very important, but they seemed to make a big deal out of it in the film, so I thought I'd mention it as well.
On his way out of town, Dr. Jones is stopped by a greaser on a motorcycle, named Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf; BTW, this kid is a total star.). Mutt tells Jones that Indy's dear friend, Professor Harold Oxley (John Hurt) is in trouble. Oxley, or as Mutt calls him "Ox," has been on the hunt for a mysterious crystal skull, but has gone missing -- but not before sending out a cryptic letter c/o of Mutt's mother. Indy looks at the cryptic message and quickly discerns that Ox went to Peru, possibly in search of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold.
Now, hold on to your hats. This is when the story gets a little more convoluted. Basically, Indy & his snappy new sidekick, Mutt trek through Latin America in search of Ox and his big secret find. Of course, you can't keep Cate Blanchett or the Commies down, so they are hot on Indy's trail. Essentially, all of these folks are after a creepy quartz skull that is supposed to be the key to all the knowledge in the world. Or something like that.
Cue the music, Mr. John Williams!
- End of synopsis -
As I mentioned at the start of the post, the movie is disappointing. Don't get me wrong. It was entertaining. The humor, action, and structural puzzles were all there. You should definitely see it. It's just that everything seemed over the top. Perhaps I'm waxing nostalgic, but the previous Indy films were fun, yet still maintained a sense of drama and historical resonance. Crystal Skull just seemed silly and rife with implausibilities (even more so than the previous Indy films).
I will probably continue to watch any film in the Indian Jones (especially if the rumors about Nathan Fillion are true), but I have to ask: Spielberg & Lucas, what were you thinking?
Here are my top 10 gripes about the film (in no particular order):
1) The font of the opening credits. I almost missed the title due to the lame typeface. What happened to the bold "Indiana Jones" font?
2) Harrison Ford is old! I know that it's been awhile since the last Indy film, but DANG! He's old. He did his thing during the action sequences, but I better not see him as the lead in Indy 5.
3) An uninteresting villain. Cate Blanchett was wasted on such a shallow villainess. First of all, what's the deal with a Stalin loyalist that's heavily into the paranormal. What is this? Hellboy? I thought that the villains in the first film were much more interesting. Remember the bald guy that pulled out people's hearts? Or, that conflicted blonde Nazi woman? They were dastardly, but interesting.
4) Mutt's hairdo. I understand that it's the 50s, and that lead characters need some sort of idiosyncrasies, but Mutt's excessive hair primping was distracting and cheesy.
5) Crystal skull? Enough said.
6) Creepy CG animal creatures. The gophers I could tolerate. The ants were kind of interesting. But, the monkeys? Oh, no you didn't. The monkeys were wrong. Like Jar Jar Binx wrong.
7) Three waterfalls? Can a boat-car of five people really survive three waterfalls?
8) The mythology. It was a little difficult to keep the facts straight. There were too many crystal skulls.
9) The big crystal skull scene. I don't want to reveal any more, but I'm sure you'll be rolling your eyes after the big scene. You sort of know where the film is heading, but when it finally gets there, you'll find yourself asking, "Really? This is it?"
10) The romantic ending. Gag me with a spoon. So out of character, Dr. Jones.
I will always be a fan of Indiana Jones. I'll just have to rank Crystal Skull as number four on my Indian Jones list.