Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2008-08-20 10:36
What it's about:

Almost 20 years after seeking the Holy Grail (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade [1989]), Indiana Jones finds himself suspended from his teaching post after a brush with the KGB. After meeting with a young acquaintance (Shia LaBeouf) of his old colleague, Harold Oxley (John Hurt), he is winging his way to South America to find his friend and locate the fabled City of Gold. Along the way he tangles with Russian soldiers, local assassins and finds a mystery greater than anything he has encountered before.

What we thought of it:

Not since the anticipation I felt before seeing (and yawning through) Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (1999) have I looked forward to a new chapter in an old franchise as much as I have with the new Indiana Jones. Luckily it wasn't the same slap in the face George Lucas gave long-time fans with his three recent Star Wars movies, but does it stand up to its predecessors? Most of the time it does, but there are a few flaws which may irritate rabid devotees.

Despite his age, Harrison Ford slips back into the role of Indy like a hand into a greased glove. He kicks ass in a completely credible fashion and delivers Indy's sarcastic one liners like he's spent the last 20 years preparing for this. We still get all the lunatic stunts, the bullwhip and that mix of bravado and haplessness that has always made the character so appealing. Ford also looks a lot younger than 67, which goes a long way in drawing attention away from thinking about what would happen if an old person really fell 20 feet onto a hard stone floor.

The supporting cast all fit in beautifully and Shia LaBeouf shines as Mutt, nailing many of the traits that make Indy himself such an endearing character. Ray Winstone is funny enough as Indy's backstabbing old friend and John Hurt looks as though he was plucked straight out of Tintin's "Prisoners of the Sun". Cate Blanchett provides many amusing moments as Agent Spalko, the psychic KGB vamp, and it's a real pity that she wasn't given more to do.

The big problem with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the final quarter. The story itself doesn't fit in that comfortably with the mythology of the other three installments, and there are several scenes, including the climax, that seem to be striving to compete with recent sci-fi blockbusters. The strengths of the previous three films are the human stunts, the characters and that mix of exotic and ancient. Indiana Jones was never sci-fi and all it takes is a single scene of overblown CGI to literally dwarf the characters and let you know you're watching just another tired Hollywood shell.

Another detail that I personally found irritating is the use of CGI insects. Every other Indy movie had scenes of people wading through loads of creepy crawlies which you knew were real, making it all the more cringe worthy. When they trotted out the fake bugs in this one it was like watching The Mummy (1999) all over again – come on!

Ultimately The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an enjoyable action adventure that stands up against any of today's good action movies. It has everything you could want for a good night's entertainment and the kids will enjoy it too. On the down side, it's the weakest of the four and some of the plot details might annoy you if you're a rabid fan. Despite the fact that it slammed the door on some treasured childhood memories, I can recommend it.

- Ivan Sadler
Indiana Jones sets off to the fabled lost city of gold to find a missing friend who is being held by a KGB agent intent on using the city's power for evil.

Crazy Fool 2008/05/27 7:52 AM
Um... I always love the way they say the actors did their own stunts... I suppose falling on a mattress from standing position could be dangerous for a fogey... Maybe they should have called it 'Kingdom of the Crystal Hip Replacement...?
Linda 2008/05/27 8:10 AM
Loved it.... We saw Indy 4 on Friday evening and we loved it!! It was so nice that DSTV showed the previous chapters over tha last couple of weeks as it gave my kids the opportunity to get to know Indy and by the time we watced Indy 4 they were hooked. I agree with the comments on the sci-fi ending, I've always loved the ancient story lines, and I felt it didn't fit into the Indy-story, but I suppose the movie was geared and focused on a younger audience in any case. Go and watch it, it was worth the wait.
Kosta 2008/05/27 9:40 AM
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Ivan didn't do his homework! Please make sure that you list the right information for the cast. Kate Capshaw (Steven Spielbergs wife) does NOT appear in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. She appeared in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. As for the sucked! Give me Raiders of the Lost Ark anyday.
YTAH 2008/05/27 10:21 AM
I liked the flying monkeys... No, not the CG ones, the Shia LaBeouf one. Go Tarzan! He should totally hook up with Brendon Frazer and reboot the George of the Jungle franchise. But then, I just think that monkeys are funny. By the way, Kosta, the reviewer is not responsible for the Cast information. If you've been checking the site every fifteen minutes hoping that they've published a review of the movie (like, um, some of us), you would know this (mis)information's been on the site for quite some time.
H2Squared 2008/05/27 10:34 AM
Do your homework It is not a trilogy, it is the 4th Indiana movie. So it can also not be the worst of the 3, because this is the 4th movie. Did you watch al the previous Indiana Movies to be able to give your review about them?
Movies Editor 2008/05/27 11:08 AM
Errors Hi all. Apologies for the factual errors, we have corrected them.
SF Fan 2008/05/27 11:15 AM
Serenity As a big SF FAN i love anything from Star Trek to Farscape, the aliens where a bit much, but the treasure hunt story was great. I do undestand the concept of the movies, cult belief that area 51 is true and that aliens build all the biggest structures i.e the pyramids ect. But do we have to mess with INDY FAN BASE to get this belief to the people? the movie Serenity makes more sense. I must say at 66 he looks better than most of the LA hotties........
Mo 2008/05/27 11:17 AM
Mixed emotions I feel the movie was great in certain scenes, esp the opening action scene in the military warehouse.. but like the review states, it lacks that old Indy intrigue and basically tries to keep up with modern movies. eg swordfighting on a moving truck, those insects and the UFOs (where did that come from). I enjoyed this movie, but the ending (last half hour) ruined it for me. All in all 6.5/10 but good entertainment nonetheless.
Vamp 2008/05/27 11:50 AM
Indi fan I am a HUGE Indi fan and although the movie wasn't terrible I was very disappointed with the amount of bad CGI used in it. That killed it for me. After all the whoo-ha! Spielberg made about not using a lot of CG effects, that was just a blatant slap in the face. I don't mind the ending. YTAH - I actually made the same remark about George of the Jungle. If they left out that one scene and used real monkeys and real ground hogs in the beginning, it would've made the movie twice as good. It's little things like that (that could've been avoided) that spoiled it for me.
Beylie 2008/05/27 12:22 PM
Indy 4 Well, I was utterly disappointed right after watching it, but after giving it a bit of a thought over, it's not bad at all. It's Indy after all. I can still live with the end, but the irritating Tarzan scene and the fridge scene wasn't up to normal Indy standards. The one thing I seriously missed was the presence of John William's music. It sort of took a back seat in the movie. The nods towards the old movies was awesome! Overall, I'll give it a 7. Fun!
YTAH 2008/05/27 12:31 PM
Vamping it up... Well, monkeys just ARE funny. One of the best examples of a comic scene with real monkeys is from Chaplin's The Circus, which also features a simulated high-wire stunt, in the same scene, nogal. Although the CG monkey in the Pirates movies was pretty funny, too.
Kosta 2008/05/27 1:43 PM
Spot the error The reviewer might not be responsible for the cast information but he should have spotted the mistake. I'm just tired of reading reviews filled with constant errors in the papers & listening to them on the radio (especially 5fm.) With all the information available on the net & in other media there should be no margin for error. How can we trust any of these reviews when they are filled with constant mistakes? Please can someone ask 5fm to gag some of these so called reviewers who pop up on the air. They haven't a clue!
YTAH 2008/05/27 1:54 PM
Well... If you're going to insist on listening to 5fm, there's nothing much we can do for you, I'm afraid.
Amanda 2008/05/27 1:56 PM
Total dislike I was utterly disappointed with this movie. Nothing new, no plot (very boring) and way too much talking in the first place. All of a sudden we have a Junior in the movie and everybody lives happily ever after...Even the aliens...O, I'm sorry, must have missed the part that sayd Inidana Jones is a fairytale! Overall, I wil NEVER recommend any of my friends to watch it. I nearly walked out in the movie, thinking I have way beter things to do than to have a director bring me to yawning...Really, in this day and age I had to watch this...I shocked that people are actually enjoying this movie. Maybe I'm an alien...
Anwar 2008/05/27 4:41 PM
Rip-off Five minutes into this movie, I knew that the audience were in for a total rip-off. Though Spielberg is one of my all time favourite movie-makers, this time him and his fellow producers have just used the franchise to make themselves some dosh on the back of big names and other money spin-offs such as video games and merchandising. The whole lot should be sued, I did not find much creativity, just intense annoyance by having my intellegence insulted by this drivel. Twenty-odd years later, this addition does not hold a candle to the first lot. Shame on you Spielberg, Lucas and Harrison, you've tainted the reputation of movie classic. Give this drivel, the hand.
Mark 2008/05/27 5:39 PM
Mark I thought it was terrible. If Spielberg can't get half his cast to take the film seriously, how can we? Did Marion ever stop smiling? The waterfall drop - totally unbelievable! And half the ending (behind the waterfall, ufo) looks likes it was ripped from Tintin. Spielberg lost the plot after Saving Private Ryan. No director lasts forever. Spielberg has definately hit the sell-by date.
Marius 2008/05/27 8:52 PM
For the fans... Spielberg said in an early interview that he and Lucas was making this Indy for the fans. Well, they failed the fans. Lucas must retire, too many scenes(all the bad ones) shows his influence. Spielberg should have done this alone. Also, apparently the original script was a lot more interesting until Lucas decided to take charge.
Janet Short 2008/05/27 11:23 PM
Way Excellent I went to see this movie on the day it was released, and all I can say is - it was truly a fun movie, enjoyed it and am of the opinion it was even better than the first three. We all need a break from all the blood and gore of late, and this one does it....
Tobie 2008/05/27 11:36 PM
Memories This movies might have been slower than the other 3 but its still indi :)
Albert 2008/05/28 4:00 PM
Indiana groans Oh boy, what an awful, insulting disappointment. Watch the first three again: the best things about them were the sweat and dirt, not the empty-calorie CGI backlots. Please Osama bin Laden, if you are reading this, destroy that infidel George Lucas! Spielberg never made a bad movie till now. Death to computer animation!
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.