The Trilogy Continues…
Image Courtesy of IMPawards.com
Director: Steven Spielberg
Notable Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent
With Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the Indiana Jones franchise officially becomes a Series instead of a trilogy. In a recent interview in Entertainment Weekly George Lucas (the Star Wars pioneer and writer/creator behind this film series) said that no matter what they did, fans would not like the film. He’d been through this before with his Star Wars Prequels. A more optimistic Spielberg said he felt the film was good and the fans would recognize this. So who was right?
It’s easy to be skeptical about this new outing. Last Crusade was almost 20 years ago. Can Lucas and Spielberg recapture the magic? There are joyous moments that live up to the Indiana Jones mythos wonderfully; these moments are usually followed by horrible ones that ruin the scene. It is unfortunate.
Crystal Skull finds the legendary Doctor Jones (Harrison Ford) back in the saddle of danger. Trying to find yet another priceless artifact, Jones is chased by a new foe (Communists) with several new sidekicks in an attempt to recreate the magic of the first three films. Raiders of the Ark set the tone and style of the series, but unfortunately this latest installment fails to live up to its predecessors. But it’s not for a lack of effort.
Harrison Ford is in full form in his iconic role as the Archeologist with a fedora and whip, playing Indy with a feel like he’s wearing an old pair of boots. He IS Indiana Jones and it still shows. Surprisingly, Shia LaBeouf is good too as Indie’s son, Mutt Williams, which I was not expecting. His character fits right into Indie’s world and is a welcome addition. Cate Blanchet is pretty good as the evil Communist and it’s nice to see Karen Allen back in the role of Marion. It should also come as no surprise that the film is chock full of wonderful chase sequences that are a thrill a minute and do not disappoint, for the most part. Sadly, that’s where we bid ado to the good parts and move on to the bad.
What didn’t work? Three words: CGI prairie dogs. It’s hard to fathom why CGI prairie dogs are in an Indiana Jones. They are silly and completely unnecessary. And it’s not that they are just in one scene, but three. The biggest problem with the film is the over use of CGI. It may be the future of film but part of the charm of the Indiana Jones series has been the live scenery and the danger therein. A huge cliff isn’t nearly as daunting if you know it’s not real.
The other problem is that they often go too far with things. A part of these films is having a suspension of disbelief, as with any film, but that can only go so far. Many scenes are ruined by hitting that wall of disbelief and having it crumble into absurdity. In a fantastic action chase sequence in the jungle, Mutt finds himself up in the trees with a bunch of CGI monkeys. Soon he is swinging through the trees like Tarzan to catch up with the speeding trucks with dozens of CGI monkeys traveling with him to aid. A very cringe worthy moment.
Lastly there is the whole crux of the film. Mysticism has always been a big part of Indie’s world from the Ark of the Covenant to the Holy Grail. But in Crystal Skull Indiana transfers from fantasy to science fiction. The last 20 minutes or so are completely disappointing on a number of levels.
Crystal Skull has good and bad moments, and it’s nice to see Ford back in the role that cemented his status as a Hollywood legend. It’s easy to forgive some of the worse moments because it is a fun movie. When all is said and done, however, the film is more frustrating than anything else because of how much potential is there for an epic action film.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):
Tags: George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Shia LaBeouf, Steven Spielberg