Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Jeff's Opinion

Review By: Jeff

I'm not a big fan of Indy films. They're often too long, too boring and filled with way too much of their creator's pretentious, self-serving dribble to be taken seriously, let alone enjoyed on any level. That said, I love me some Indy, as in Indiana Jones, films and recommend that anyone who hasn't seen them watch them immediately unless they're blind then they won't be seeing much of anything now will they?

The fourth film in the former trilogy, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was released recently and I found it to be a plate of good times with a side order of "meh". If I had to compare it with the other films, I'd place it between Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom but not next to Last Crusade, no, this movie only gets to look up at the ivory tower where Crusade resides while Raiders, a few floors down, calculates the next move of it's coup d'état. During this time, Temple of Doom is eating dirt and talking loudly on its cell phone making Crystal Skull wish it were dead.

So the plot of the film is about the Commies (no more Nazis, they were all exploded by Jones) wanting to get their hammer and sickle on the mysterious crystal skulls to utilize their untapped power. This power, as they believe, will allow them to create a psychological weapon capable of turning freedom-loving Americans into the very red devils we know and hate. Luckily for us, and the proud stars'n'bars, Indiana Jones is also on the hunt for the skull but not for fortune, glory, nor it's belonging in a museum, indeed not, he's there to find his friend and colleague, Harold Oxley, who just so happens to have found the location of the film's title kingdom.

Joining Indy on his latest adventure is Mutt Williams who's a sloppily realized mish-mash of a tough greaser and a nerd. Returning to the series is Marion Ravenwood who seems to exist in this film for the sole purpose of having another female character and providing the connection between Mutt and Indy. Rounding out the list is Mac who wins the award for "Worst Indiana Jones sidekick EVER." Seriously, it's like he doesn't even exist in the same film as everyone else.

The villain here, outside of Communism, is Irina Spalko and her small army of drones that follow her every bidding. It's implied that she's supposed to be psychic or something but they never really expand on it so she just looks crazy for a couple of scenes. She's played by Cate Blanchett and her dodgy Russian accent but makes up for both shortcomings by proving to be a competent and somewhat likable villain.

The main issue with this film is that it's in a constant struggle with its good and bad moments so it never gets to excel at either. For example, there's action-a-plenty to be found here but some parts of it are just filled with stupid things that I call Shia LaBeouf. I'm not trying to knock the guy or anything, but most of the film's groan worthy moments involved his character, such as the "Tarzan, Snake and Splits" scene. Outside of those, his character just being there made the whole thing feel like a long audition tape instead of a proper film.

Another issue I had with it was that it never seemed like Indy and his crew were ever in any real danger. In Raiders, there was the boulder, Temple of Doom had the spiked ceiling and Last Crusade had the speedboat chase and three trials but here everything just felt like it was too easy for them to get out of trouble. Also, aliens, what the hell was the deal with that?

All in all, Crystal Skull is worthy of its Indiana Jones moniker and ranks in third when compared to the others. If this were to be the end of the proper series, and by that I mean with Harrison Ford as Indy, then it's a good enough way to go out and leave the rest of Indy's adventures to video games and comic books.

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