26 May 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: A movie review

I have to admit, before you get very far into this review that I, generally critical reviewer that I am, turned off, almost completely the critical parts of my brain for this one. For any Jones movie you may want to do this, but for Crystal Skull it is maybe just the tiniest bit more necessary.

With a title like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull you will have realized, or you certainly should have, that you have entered into a kingdom of the kind of pulp fiction that inspired Lucas and Speilberg waaaay back in 1981 when they came up with Raiders of the Lost Ark. This film feels more Lucas and less Speilberg. That is both good and bad. The bad is that Lucas a second rate hack when it comes to actual execution and writing. This leaves us with silly cute elements, as well as the tendency to obsessively put Indiana into world history in a way that would not seem odd to Forrest Gump. I will not spoil what those moments are, one is necessary and not offensive to the brain you have shut off at the door. But the other is if only because it just the tinest bit silly and clearly Lucazian. The good news though is that the film itself is monstrously, uproariously, and necessarily preposterous. Crystal Skull is more Temple of Doom than it is Raiders or Last Crusade, but that isn't a bad thing.

Shia Lebeouf handles himself capably as a Jones sidekick, and get one of the bigger action laughs in the film with something that could only happen in an Indy movie. Harrison Ford is at 65 or so, as capable an action hero as any other actor you can name. His fight and action sequences are all quite good and be on the look out for an excellent double leg take down by Dr. Jones. What is also refreshing is that the Jones action isn't out of step with the other films. That is to say it isn't trying to use wire work, or kung fu moves. Indy is still the same brawler with some Judo moves he has always been. And man I find that refreshing. What also helps to maintain some of the continuity with the first three films is that the special effects seem similar. That is to say that the film tries admirably to be old fashion with a paucity of CGI effects shots. Clearly there are some CGI shots and they are well done. However, Speilberg wisely limited them. Older audience members have a specific Indiana Jones in mind and it is best not to distract from that image too much.

So far Jones is the summer's most pure popcorn movie. If you are of a certain age it will remind of wearing your own fedora, khaki pants, khaki shirt, and, in that time before parents fretted over saftey, your own bullwhip.
Well, that is what it did for me.


At 5:34 PM , Blogger bandit said...

dude, i have a hard time imagining that you *ever* owned a fedora. i don't even think you own one now! the bullwhip, on the other hand, i could sorta see ;)

At 9:01 AM , Blogger Max II said...

I totally had a fedora! I used to stroll around Brazil (Indiana) decked out like Indy.

So dude....whatcha think of that. I fackin' was Dr. Jones. I'll try to dig up the pictures!

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