Note: I know I'm going to get hammered for this review. People desperately want this movie to be fun, and those expectations play a huge role in how we consume entertainment. Sadly, I couldn't get over the glaring problems with the story and I truly believe when the smoke clears this will be seen for what it is: an average film with an exceedingly phenomenal pedigree. On to the review!
Does art evolve? Yes, of course. And no, not always. Essentially, I'd say that some art stands the test of time (think Michelangelo's David) while 99% of the rest fades away (think 98 Degrees). Pop culture is a tiny little segment of art where the ebb and flow is even more pronounced. Insert into this conversation Indiana Jones, a character with two or three legit movies that have provided a few decades of influence up until this point. With these factors in mind we can officially start talking about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
I'll start with the notion that this isn't a very good movie. It's occasionally entertaining and it has some nice moments that remind you why you loved the originals, but it never becomes anything of note on its own. The film, without the love and sentiment that have been built up for the character, would be kindly considered "shlock" or "cheesy." The problem isn't Harrison Ford putting the whip back on after 20 years -- nope, the real issue is that the story isn't really there. It's all very forced, and Shia preening around in his black leather jacket sets the initial tone of annoyance.
The plot? It's 1957 in Nevada. That's all you get. Sorry, I don't think revealing plot direction wins me any points, and if you do end up seeing this you'll want to enjoy the surprises as they come. Heck, some of you may end up giving this film a pass because of the interesting direction the story tries to take. But were I to tell you anything about the tale itself there's a chance I'd ruin the film for you. So there's nothing to see here; move along.
Where does this rank amongst the Indy films? Gotta be fourth. It has the scene where the bad guys surround Indy in a circle and the notion that greed always does you in. It's got the evil foreigners (in this case, Russian) who will stop at nothing to achieve their evil goals. Essentially this version of Indiana Jones didn't do much to recapture the magic.
On the plus side it has some nice homages to the franchise throughout. And in many ways it feels like a goodbye of sorts. A tender goodbye to Sean Connery, a farewell from Indiana Jones himself, and an ending wrapped with a bow for the "just in time for Christmas!" boxed DVD set. The film also has one of my personal favorite elements, the plane flying down the map marked by a red line. That always made me smile.
Unfortunately, this is not a film worthy of the series as a whole. I'm not angry with them for trying, and it's clear in some points that they really enjoyed getting the gang back together. But overall the effort is a flop. I'm as sentimental as the next guy, but I can't help but figure that if this had been the first film in the series there wouldn't have been a second one.
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