Silent Archimedes

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Movie Review – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted by silentarchimedes on June 2, 2008

Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Karen Allen
Director: Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg teams up with Harrison Ford to continue the Indian Jones series after an 18 year layoff. This movie seems to be another in the line of successful movie franchises from many years past going through a modern resurrection. Die Hard 4 from 2007, twelve years after the last one. New modern adaptations of Superman and Batman. I have to say all three are either better or at least as good as the originals. However, I cannot say same thing about Indiana Jones. This franchise appears to be on its last legs and if it was the last one, it did not go out with a bang the way Die Hard did.

WHY I SAW THIS MOVIE

If you grew up in the 1980s, as I did, the Indiana Jones franchise was the perfect combination of action, adventure, comedy and star power. How can one forget Short Round from Temple of Doom or Sean Connery in Last Crusade? Harrison Ford is one of those few actors that has that serious and suave yet amusing demeanor that we all love. Sean Connery is another one of those.

THE CAST

Harrison Ford, one of the preeminent actors in the 1990s hasn’t transitioned to older roles in the way we all thought he would, partly due to his lack of roles. Crystal Skull is only his fourth film since 2000. None of the previous three cracked $50million in cumulative US box office receipts. Teaming up with Steven Spielberg to create an automatic $100million seemed the logical career move.

Cate Blanchett, well known for her roles as Elizabeth of England and Oscar-winning role in The Aviator, is cast as the KGB psychologist. Her role in Babel is also worthy of notice. Although not as prolific as other actresses, due to her strict role selections, she has become a top-tier actress.

Shia LaBeouf is an up and coming actor best known for playing Sam Witwicky in Transformers and Louis Stevens in the Disney series Even Stevens.

PREMISE

Set in the 1960s, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones is taken out of his teaching job after the KGB kidnap him to locate an unknown box in a big warehouse somewhere along the lines of Area 51. Indy is not sure what is in the box even though he assisted the government in digging up its contents in the first place. After the KGB find what they want, they continue to pester Indy for “knowledge”. Unable to stay at peace, Indy takes a leave of absence and heads for England. However, he is met by a motorcycle-riding youngster named Mutt who asks for his assistance in locating a crystal skull because his mother and friend Oxley has been kidnapped. Thus, Indy travels throughout the world in search of this crystal skull and its significance.

REVIEW

The Kingdom of Crystal Skulls is not up to par with the first three Indiana Jones. I had a hard time deciding if the movie wanted to be taken seriously or comically. The casting of Blanchett seemed to support the latter one, because it’s so out of her ordinarily serious roles. She reminded me of the loud and stereotyped Frau Farbissina in Austin Powers. Harrison Ford is noticeably older in this movie and doesn’t pull it off well. (Remember Connery playing his dad but was only 12 years his elder in real life?) A lot of the major action scenes are actually left up to LaBeouf and Blanchett. Jones’ ability to take those punches and bear hugs from enemies seem to be so painful now knowing he is in his sixties.

Blanchett appears to have fun playing the role of KGB hardwoman Irina. Irina has the stereotypical Soviet hard and loud accent with angular movements forced by the long boots and rigidity of the uniform. There are many fight scenes for Irina and Blanchett seems to enjoy doing something different than her typical roles. However, it was still hard to take seriously given the stereotypes and her background.

LaBeouf also not a good cast for the part of Mutt Williams. He seemed to over-act the part in trying to be a cool 1950s motorcycle-riding switch-blading bad-ass. His accent was over the top and his attempts at young humor against the ancient Ford just wasn’t funny. It would be hard to picture him as carrying the lead role of Indiana Jones in future renditions.

Finally, the role of Karen Allen as Marion was unbearable to watch. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, she was 27 years younger and was able to pull off the flirty, annoying, bossy love interest of Indy. However, in reprising that role here, it was just purely annoying. All her jokes were predictable, and all her actions were unbearable. In trying to close out Harrison Ford’s character, they tried to bring it full circle while adding a young character in Mutt. It just didn’t work

As for the movie story, the ending is a hit or miss with the audience. The powers of the crystal skull seemed to allow them to get out of jams too easily. The appearance of natives and enemies are more random than in the previous three. It was obvious that LaBeouf was casted in an attempt to hand off the franchise to a younger actor, leaving an opening for future movies. Overall, this movie does not meet Indiana Jones fans’ expectations and lacks the storylines and pure action that the other resurrected franchises achieved.

VERDICT

Rating: 6 out of 10 Indiana Jones fedoras

What did you think of Kingdom of Crystal Skulls?

1) worst of the four
2) one of the worst
3) one of the better ones
4) the best one
5) haven’t seen it, but plan to
6) haven’t seen it, don’t plan to

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