This blog may contain plot-related spoilers.
I should preface this post with saying it had been years since I'd seen the other three Indiana Jones films. As a kid, I remember seeing them once or twice via VHS, but never really much since. I honestly couldn't tell you anything about the first movie other than the fact Indy runs from a giant ball. I only remembered bits from the second movie, like the annoying Asian kid from The Goonies. The third movie... I was pretty sure I had never even seen it. So last weekend I made the effort to sit down for 6+ hours and watch all three films, to really get ready for what I was going to see yesterday.
Watching the classics made a true fan out of me, because now at the ripe old age of 23 I could truly appreciate them for what they were, a good classic adventure film. That was the mindset I took in to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Crystal Skull begins several years after the The Last Crusade, obviously, and finds Indy in the clutches of evil Russians, led by Cate Blanchett, looking for an artifact that will bring them ultimate power. Really from the very beginning of this movie the pace is set, for what ends up being (to quote cliche TV spots for movies like these) "a nonstop thrill ride." Not once in this entire film did I find myself feeling bored, or feeling like I was missing out.
Personally, I think a lot of fans of the classic feeling are going to get bent out of shape over this movie, see: Random Villain's review of it. However, I walked in to this movie expecting to see something over the top. I expected Lucas and Spielberg to go all out, using all of their expertise and plenty of expenses to make a big, beautiful, movie... and that's what they did. Crystal Skull is a GORGEOUS film, hands down. The landscapes, the scenery, the set design, all of it. Everything looks so polished and undisturbed by modern day pollution and ecocollapse. It's not hard to believe that it's 1957. Do you not think that if they had the resources and abilities they have now, back in the 80s the other films wouldn't look this way? Why do you think Lucas redid all the Star Wars films? They were incredibly limited 20+ years ago... so this was clearly their way over using what they now have to deliver, and I feel like they delivered a solid knockout.
For his age, I have to give props to Harrison Ford. He kicks serious ass in this film, even though there are several times when it's obvious the use of a stuntman is being used. I can overlook that. Shia Lebouf, in the unsurprising role *SPOILER ALERT* of Indy's illegitimate son with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen reprising) - now married and going by Mary Williams - lends the talents of comedic relief, but even most of that comes as setting up Ford for his trademark Indy one-liners. There's a really good scene towards the end of the movie that reminisces The Last Crusade, and the relationship between Indy and his father. Sean Connery opted out of returning to the role in a flashback scene, but that's explained off quickly with a mention of Dr. Henry Jones being "lost", as you'll remember from the previous film.
The actual plot of the movie would be my only gripe. Now why I didn't mind the idea behind it, I felt the way it panned out was a bit passe, and I can see why the classic fans are up in arms. In past Indy films, there was a great sense of mystery and intrigue, not always answered, with the artifacts Indy discovered. I feel as though Crystal Skull over indulged in this sense, maybe giving a little too much. The idea of the Skull belonging to Mayan Gods (the same Mayans who vanished from the Earth) and turning out to be an actual alien's skull... that's fine... but leave it at that. Leave it at Indy and the gang speculating, assuming even, but don't give me damn aliens. That's a bit much.
Overall, I would have to say I was thoroughly entertained, as were the 4 people with me. The morons in the theater actually gave it a standing round of applause... even though there was no one there to clap for... but I digress... I went in to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull looking to be entertained, and that's exactly what I was. It's a fast paced action adventure, that delivers when it should, and doesn't hold back when it might need to. It leaves the series open to continue, which may or may not happen... Lucas hasn't penned another film at this point.. but if he did, you can expect it would make millions, as this one has this weekend, and I'd be right there to see it.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 8/10 stars.