Monday, June 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Movie review - it's not good - warning spoilers

This vitriolic review is filled with spoilers. Just a warning if you wanted to see the movie first. Also a warning that you might regret going to see the movie first. I was so annoyed that it has taken me this long to collect my thoughts to spew out like poison upon this (virtual) page.

I should have walked out when I saw the George Lucas writing credit at the beginning of the film.

Hasn't the lost city built for alien gods trope been done to death? When they started trucking out the Nazca lines and then the shot of the alien pictoglyphs in the temple that echoed the Mayan "astronaut" (Pacal the Great) just stretched credibility.

Nazca lines

A Mayan "Astronaut"

I didn't see Erich Von Daniken as a consultant on the movie but he might as well have been. Is anyone else insulted every time one of these movies or books claims that farming and writing and civilization and city building and webkinz were all taught to us by aliens. Did we accomplish nothing ourselves?

The movie was missing a credible young love interest for Indy. They didn't even try to hook up Shia LaBeouf (Mudd) with a girl in the movie. I contend that LaBeouf's character was the love interest for Indy. Shia finds Indy and needs Indy's help, Shia is the newbie young person, he is overly concerned about his appearance and combs his hair all the time. He even squealed appropriately in the dusty caves and digs, when the required rat or bug (scorpions this time) jump on him. Later he transforms into a sword wielding maniac, but he starts the movie as the girl. One possibility for romantic interest in the film might have been Cate Blanchett. Unfortunately, she plays Natasha from Bullwinkle and is definitely not used as anybody's love interest, but as another sword wielding maniac.

Other parts of the movie seemed to be someone's graduate cinema project. There was a recurrent them of backlighting characters and filming them through screens or sheets so that there heads were centered in the shadow of their heads produced by the back lighting. I counted at least four instances, some of Indy, one of the alien skull. I missed the point of why the director kept doing this.

Poor Harrison Ford looked old. I want to believe that the makeup artists made him look old because he looked too horrible for it to be a mistake. He needs to fire someone, perhaps his agent or makeup artist. A purposeful shot of Indy's desk with pictures of his father and Marcus drove home the point that all his friends and relatives were dead as well. I am guessing that they couldn't afford Sean Connery for a cameo, but emphasized the death of Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott, who did actually pass away before this movie was made). The only connection with his past was Marion, who also looked old. They wanted to hit us over the head with passing the generational torch, I can show you the bruises on my (crystal) skull. Was anyone surprised that Mudd (Shia) turned out to be his son?

Previous instalments in this series featured exotic locations with local color, remember Petra in the Last Crusade? This movies was filmed in Connecticut, California, New Mexico and Hawaii. They didn't even bother going to South America with the cast.

Surviving an atomic blast and later the whole crew going over not one, not two, but three huge waterfalls also strained credibility. The jungles scenes start with them requiring a buzz saw tipped jungle cutting vehicle to get through and then end with a chase on parallel roads through the previously impassable jungle. Please insult my intelligence filmmakers.

The "necessary" buzz saw tank just before it is destroyed

Double wide roads (we don't need no grass cutting)

How often do you think that the warriors pop put of the Mayan stone decorations to stop looters?

Warriors upset they are in a bad movie.

Once they kill everybody do they have to recreate the designs? Do they live in their the whole time or do they take shifts. Are they real people or are they undead and only come alive when they must kill intruders?

A Mayan scary skull hidey-hole about to belch forth a warrior.
Please replace when finished. Remember - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

This begs the question for any tomb raider trope/Indiana Jones movie. When the ancients built these grave traps I am sure it took many years, maybe decades. Did they build one and then trigger it to test it, so the heavy rocks move and the sand spills out and the water pours in and they see it works - and then they build another one for the real deal? In the movie you can clearly see others that made it as far as Indy and Son by their corpses and skeletons littering the area. I suppose the system resets after a period of inactivity.

In conclusion, I guess I had to see the movie. It was the long awaiting next installment in a relatively proud line of great movies. I just wish that they hadn't insulted my intelligence so much and that I wasn't such a sucker that had to go see it. Don;t worry, when it comes out on cable I will probably watch it over and over again screaming insults at the television, as I am wont to do with these movies.

(There are 'Crystal Skull apologists out there, Howard didn't think it was so bad, but points to the Editing Room's abridged Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull script which covers all the high points in humorous fashion (low points?).

(Lego Indiana Jones in wheelchair from rong_yiren at flickr)
(many pics and clips from Screenrush)


Howard said...

You didn't mention the fridge!?! It's now a catch phrase replacing "jump the shark".

So we agree on a lot of points, but it comes down to did the suspension of disbelief work for you? It obviously worked better for me. Maybe preping by watching the 3 films helped get me more in the mood.

I think your complaints about the feasibility of the traps applies to all the films. After old and new testament themes (how about that knight living in a cave for centuries), and whatever Temple of Doom was (they said Indian but I think that's an insult to India), Mayan and Chariot of the Gods like stuff seems a reasonable mythos to use. Indy being old is true, and I think it's better they did this than pretend he didn't age. His fights with the young soldiers just barely stayed within my acceptance. My big complaints were the plot reveals were obvious (aliens, son, marion) and the big set scenes were needlessly ridiculously implausible. I choose to try to forget them. The Area 51 stuff was fine until the fridge, the jungle chase was fine (aside from the roads) until the waterfalls (and see I totally forgot about the Tarzan stuff, totally blocked it out) :)

Richard said...

I should have mentioned the fridge. Just surviving the blast was bad enough. You must hang out with hip young kids to have picked up that nuke the fridge phrase so quickly.

I would say that I was unwillingly torn from my suspension of disbelief many times in the movie. I had many other complaints but I thought I might have been starting to sound shrill.

Thomas Watson said...

Old-time fans and younger converts alike should enjoy this, at times relentless, action movie. And a massive visual clue at the end of the movie clubs us over the head with, rather than just suggesting the notion, that despite having a capable heir to his battered fedora, Indy may not be hanging it up quite yet.