‘Indiana Jones': The Verdict Is In From MTV News And It’s Not All Good

My friends, I have seen “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and as much as I’d love to say “hold on to your potatoes,” I’m feeling a little blue today (check out what all the other critics are saying here). Keep in mind, I’m reserving my final judgment on this one until I see it a few more times but my first thoughts upon leaving the screening were nothing short of abject disappointment.

I had a good time. Watching Harrison roll around and jump from moving vehicle to moving vehicle was glorious at times. Marian Ravenwood’s smile can still light up a room. Hell, I even thought Shia LaBeouf was the best Indy sidekick this side of Short Round.

BUT…and I’m afraid this is a truly all capital letter befitting BUT…this film doesn’t nearly compare with any of the previous three. It’s just not in the same universe. It’s a riff on Indy, as if a half-finished plot outline had been found by admirers of the original trilogy and done up in the best Spielberg-ian style they could muster. Musical cues by John Williams only call attention to the greatness of the previous works. Set pieces never soar. It’s a movie that feels rushed and padded all at the same time. Believe me, every word I write here kills me. Keep in mind, you’re reading the thoughts of a guy who still defends “The Phantom Menace.”

So what works? Harrison as I said before is by and large great. The physicality he brings to Indy remains spot-on and uniquely him. Shia and Cate Blanchett acquit themselves well (even if not for a moment did this Russkie villain have a fraction of the menace of Belloq or Mola Ram). Some of the action is inspired. There are moments, all too few and far between, that are blissful and will indeed take you back for a time to sheer joy that the originals brought you. But only hours after seeing it I can’t think of a single memorable moment from this film that I had been foaming at the mouth to see for literally years.

I’m being harsh. I know. And I may very well change my mind the next time I see it. But friends, lower your expectations as much as possible. I warn you.

A few other folks here at MTV News got a chance to see the film this week. I’ve asked them to weigh in. Some of their assorted thoughts are below.

Rachel Josue (Producer):
“All in all, I did enjoy the film. Much bigger and less subtle than the others, but still good.”

Vanessa White Wolf (Segment Producer):
“So I liked it…for the most part. At first I was eh, then I was totally into it, and then it got kind of silly. I thought Shia was great. I felt that most of the weak parts came when it tried to be too family-friendly.”

Jonathan Goldner (Director of Digital Operations):
I thought it was fun, but nowhere nearly as sharp or tight as the “original” Indy trilogy. A part of my brain kept talking through the movie saying “Mutt Williams is the new Jar-Jar Binks” over and over again. Lots of fun, definitely worth seeing. But the theory holds: The best Indy movies have Nazis in them.”

Shawn Adler (Reporter):
“I liked it. But I didn’t like it. The problem is that nothing is as ever as good as it was when you were 10. This is especially true of things that aren’t as good as the things you saw when you were ten. I need to see it roughly 25 more times.”