Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

by Reymundo Salao

Synopsis: After almost 20 years, Indiana Jones is back! And this time, he is up against the Soviets who are looking to unravel the secrets of the mysterious Crystal Skull. He is joined by Mutt Williams and soon reunites with Marion Ravenwood (who we last saw with Indy in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"). He travels to South America where Indy faces the Soviets, racing against them in order to get to the Crystal Skull and the hidden ancient city where it belongs.

Was it fun? YES. I will NOT say that this was a bad movie, and I will not say that this is a waste of your time and money, because it was indeed a fun-filled relaxing adventure movie for all ages. BUT--Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a very needless sequel. It's something that will only be an eyesore to the Indiana Jones series rather than something that will add to its integrity. We're already very very happy with the three Indiana Jones movies, adding another one will only make the series look less respectable. If Diehard 4 takes us back to the insanity of the Diehard movies, and John Rambo (Rambo 4) gives its series a proper closure, Indiana Jones's newest installment becomes a burden to its own series,

When Steven Spielberg and George Lucas created the universe of Indiana Jones in 1981 (first with Raiders of the Lost Ark, then its 1984 sequel Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade in 1989), they still were perhaps in their prime of creativity. They were still revolutionary icons of film that defied and conquered the film industry. Now, it seems that they’re just old men who are only looking to make more money. Lucas seems to have made the same mistake he did with the Star Wars trilogy; he overused the franchise, focusing on special effects.

This is obviously the weakest of the Indiana Jones series. It's like Spielberg and Lucas exhausted their last ounce of imagination, having used up their best ideas for the three movies, what remains to be used for a fourth Indiana Jones are the rotten silly left-overs that seem to have been rejects which had just been gathering dust ever since the Last Crusade. Lucas had to clean off the dust and announce "Hey, let's make money out of these?"

It's not even on the issue of Harrison Ford being "too old" for the role. I really don’t mind him looking geriatric and kicking ass. I like old rusty guy heroes. No, it wasn’t that. It was more of the story and the production itself. The production was sloppy; there were parts in the editing that felt bland, some scenes merely mirrored the same sequences used in the previous Indy movies. The stunts were boring and there appears to be an overuse of computer generated animation which was a liability to the film. Just because Lucasfilms and Industrial Light & Magic have the power to make the best special effects, it doesn’t mean that they should have the liberty to fake even the simplest of sets and stunts. Many of the scenes of the movie look too strikingly unreal, that it tends to reveal such a background fakery. The result of this is that this movie looks completely out of context with the other Indy movies; it looks more like Sin City, 300, and The Incredibles. The sword fight made in the two jeeps look too hokey and reeking with CGI stench.

(Now let's go to the Spoiler parts of this review. Some of you may not want to skip to the next two paragraphs)

Aliens??? Give me a break, George & Steven! That's the worst idea for an Indiana Jones story, and you used it. Just out of reckless guts probably? It just made the Indiana Jones universe... silly. Sure, I know that this genre pretty much belongs to pulp fiction, but some works of fiction must also have its own sense of discipline... like you don't put giant robots in a Tom Sawyer adventure, or dinosaurs in the Tales of Robin Hood, and you certainly don't put in flying saucers in Indiana Jones movies. The movie felt more like an X-files episode.

In the movie, it is revealed that Indiana Jones' son is the character played by Shia LeBouf. Oh great. The Transformers kid. I’m sure there could’ve been better actors out there, I suspect that picking him was more like an act of laziness to hold a casting audition for the part. In addition, his role was a bit annoying; why did they ever make Indy's son too vain? It's such a bad characterization, in my opinion (Neither Indy, his dad, or Marion are like that).

(Spoiler part up till this point)

The casting of Cate Blanchett as the main villainess was a rather interesting choice though. She did her part nicely, same with Ray Winstone (the voice of Beowulf) and John Hurt. But it was rewarding to see Karen Allen play Marion Ravenwood once more, such a strong character in Raiders of the Lost Ark does deserve to come back, and when we see her chemistry with Ford once more, it was the better movie magic of this sequel. The great part of the movie were the dialogues between Indy and Marion.

INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL was pure fun, but kinda dumb. It is worth watching, but honestly, I would have rather preferred that it had not existed; and have it locked up in the same warehouse where the Ark (in Raiders) was kept, never to be seen again.