I miss Sallah
As much as I was looking forward to seeing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (hereafter known as “Indy 4”), I was equally dreading what my reaction might be to it, given some of the criticisms that have been leveled at it so far – so here’s my take on it, good & bad:
Firstly, “Indy 4” is not as good as “Raiders”, “Temple of Doom” or “Last Crusade”. The main difference here is that I wasn’t expecting to be, I wasn’t looking for anything other that an “Indiana Jones” movie, and that’s exactly what I got – I didn’t expect any of the follow-ups to be “better” than each other, and in that respect, I was never disappointed all the way down through the sequels.
The story this time takes place in 1957, and through a very quick set-up, we learn that Dr. Henry Jones Jr. and his associate ‘Mac’ (Winstone) have been kidnapped by Russians, and taken to a very familiar warehouse (and location) in the middle of Nevada with the intention of tracking down the titular “Crystal Skull” – and after a great chase & escape sequence, teams up with Mutt (LaBeouf) to chase down former friend Professor Oxley (John Hurt) & Mutt’s mother Marion Williams (Karen Allen, duh) – the adventure this time takes them through Peru & the Amazon, into ancient Mayan temples…. And just a little bit “beyond”, the whole time being hunted down by “Psychic” Irina Spalko & her Russkie pals.
For me, there’s never going to be better movie going experiences in my life that equal the films I saw in cinemas when I was a kid – “Raiders”, “Empire Strikes Back”, “Ghostbusters” – all films that are considered “classics” now – but are they really? Nostalgia is a funny thing, and as I said to “Hollywood Movie Star” Clint Morris earlier, would a 20-something generation that has grown up watching flicks like “The Matrix” & “Transformers” be impressed with the old school serial action of a “Raiders of the Lost Ark” if it opened in theatres today?
So – if you’re in my shoes, someone who loves and has grown up with the “Indy” flicks, and was looking forward to it, but had also heard a lot of negatives – here’s my promise – 99% of what you’ve read about “Indy 4” is bullshit. It is in fact, a completely solid addition to the franchise – it has a central plot device that I defy anyone to explain away as “ridiculous” given the objects that “Raiders” & “Crusade” both focused on (and the powers they held); it has great, very familiar performances from Harrison Ford & Karen Allen; it has exotic locales; it has great supporting characters (heroes & villains alike) in the forms of Ray Winstone, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt – and of course Shia LaBeouf (who I like more & more with every film I see him in); and most of all, it just has that feeling that the earlier films had – that borderline “reality” mixed in with the classic action hero genre that always made the “Indy” films stand above.
Now – two criticisms that I have, and they both relate to the same issue. You may have read in other reviews around the traps of a sequence with Shia swinging on some jungle vines surrounded by Monkeys, and also of a scene where he duels Cate Blanchett during a car chase in the jungle – the issue here is not that either event is “stupid” (we are talking about an “Indiana Jones” adventure movie here after all) – but the special FX in particular are horrible for those moments – you’ll notice it straight away when you see it, but they truly look very bad…. “Straight to DVD” bad, and given that we are talking about Steven Spielberg & George Lucas – two guys with a fair amount of FX work to their name, I have to wonder what the hell happened there in particular.
So that’s it – “Indy 4” in a nutshell is a very solid addition – I enjoyed it just as much as the other films, and would recommend it to anyone who loves those “original” movies.