May 21 2008

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls

Published by at 12:06 pm under Blog

Indiana JonesIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is Harrison Ford‘s fourth outing as the intrepid adventurer and takes place 19 years after the last movie, The Last Crusade, the time of the Nazis being replace by the Cold War era. This tale sees a weather-worn but not worn-out Indiana, team up with the rebellious Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) and Indie’s long lost love from Raider of the Lost Ark, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), in search of the answer to the enigmatic Crystal Skulls, while being chased by a group of Russia military types, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett).

Anyone who reads this blog should know fairly well that I am Mr Positivity. I am happy and cheery about almost everything and even the things that piss me off usually have the hint of a silver lining.

Indiana JonesLet me tell you about the silver lining in Indiana Jones. It is a fun and funny movie. It’s an exciting thrill ride that plays out like a high octane computer game with impressive graphics. It has some great action sequences and a quality fist fight that hasn’t been seen in movies for a number of years.

Harrison Ford slips back into the role of the aging Indie with ease – it’s his role and he plays the wisecracking professor cum explorer brilliantly. Shia LaBeouf, formerly of Transformers, could be the next Tom Cruise (I mean this in a good way). He can pull off the action sequences (his sword fight with Cate Blanchett rivaled Bond’s fencing frenzy in Die Another Day) and he can definitely act (he pulled off a impression of James Dean without me cringing). John Hurt, as the former friend and colleague of Jones, turned mad by the Skulls, is excellent. He offers a tense and interesting character, who serves as a human map to the inevitable lost Kingdom.

That’s the silver lining. It’s a movie worth seeing for the many reasons listed above…and if you are an Indiana Jones fan and fully intend on seeing the movie, read no further than this.

Indiana Jones

The silver lining has a big black cloud. I’m sure I read somewhere over the past year that most of this movie was done without the overuse of computer generated imagery, that it was going old-school, using stunt men and huge set pieces. So why then, in this age of Transformers, Lord of the Rings, Iron Man and Superman Returns, do we have scenes in a major blockbuster movie that have such awful, woeful, pure unadulteratedly poor CG sequences.

I have no intention of giving away any spoilers in this review, but I feel I must warn you about one particular scene. Perhaps you could orchestrate a bathroom break around it, or maybe choose this scene to be extra affectionate towards your partner. In a CG laden car chase that at times resembles Toy Story in it’s cartoon-like scenery, LaBeouf is caught up in some vine which sends him hurtling into the trees. In the trees he meets some cute little monkeys (if the monkeys are CG, they are quite impressive). The monkeys begin swinging from tree to tree, so LaBeouf decides he can do the same. Now, this is a leave-your-brain-at-the-door action movie, so swinging from tree to tree is not unfathomable, but the shockingly poor CG characters swinging through a cartoon landscape actually embarrassed me – I put my head into my hands while watching (as I type, I am red faced). I find it hard to believe that Spielberg and Lucas could not see the awfulness of this scene (and some others) and then to do nothing about it… I can only assume that they saw the problem but decided not to rectify it, as surely only kids will watch this movie.

Cate Blanchett in Indiana JonesEven before the media campaign for this movie started, I was deeply concerned about Blanchett being cast as the bad guy, a Russian (I think, but she may have been French or German) who either has psychic power or wants psychic powers, I couldn’t really tell. I like Cate Blanchett. She is a fine actress and deserves many of the accolades awarded to her, but as the Indiana Jones nemesis, she was distressingly cheesy, over the top and very difficult to watch – her accent was worse than Richard Gere’s Irish accent in the Jackal. I know these movies are known for being OTT at times, but she became very grating very soon.

Ray Winstone, too, a fine actor, who I have loved in many movies, played the role that many hundreds of people have played before, the bumbling buffoon of questionable loyalties. Do you remember The Mummy and the jester in that who tried to steal all the gold whenever he could? Picture him, make him English, add some fat, and voila, Ray Winstone in Indiana Jones.

The only good thing that can be said for the opening few scenes of the movie (in which he survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a fridge) is that it could only get better from there. And it did. This is by no means a bad movie, it’s just not a great one either.

The storyline isn’t bad. It ranks along side the other Indie movies and escalates the more mysterious sides of history, just as each movie did before it. The eventual payoff however is let down by that which precedes it. The climax is epic, if a touch obvious, and would be a good way to finish the series (although I believe there is already rumours of two more movies).

And then the very final scene is jaw-droppingly poor and should either be removed from the movie, or given an additional comic payoff that was heavily lacking. I wonder if, like Iron Man, there might be an additional scene added when it goes on full release (May 22nd).

Indiana JonesGo see it if you’re a fan. It really is good fun and has some great action sequences, but don’t go expecting it to be better than the previous Jones outings. One of the reviewers said it meets expectations but doesn’t exceed them. I think they were being kind. I think it’s time for Indie to hang up his hat for good.

Sidenote: Ray Foley is on the radio now slagging off Rick O’Shea’s introduction of the movie in the Savoy last night. πŸ™‚

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8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skulls”

  1. Darraghon 21 May 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Jaysis. Dunno if I’ll bother now!

  2. Davidon 21 May 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I’ve been a die-hard fan since I was a kid but I’m getting scared about going to see it – it could ruin all of my happy memories just like they did with Star Wars.

    **pulls on rose tinted glasses**

    Ah, that’s better. Roll intro sequence…

  3. patrickon 21 May 2008 at 9:48 pm

    it would seem that the recipe of a good Indiana Jones film would be 1 part Nazis and 1 part Biblical Artefact… the Soviet army does a pretty good job of replacing the Nazis, but the other thing…

  4. FutureTaoiseachon 22 May 2008 at 1:05 am

    Must go see it then.

  5. Ray Foleyon 24 May 2008 at 1:15 am

    I think you were sitting right in front of me. Your hair is a wee bit longer now and you’re a big tall bastard wearing a black shirt, no? Your head was in my wife’s view. I told her to shut it and sit up.

    For the record, I wasn’t slagging Rick per se, I was tenderly pulling the piss. He knows I mean it in the nicest possible way.

    As I said on the radio: monkeys. That’s the precise point when it goes to shit, although the obviously plastic too-light-to-be-crystal skull was an earlier one, as was the vines hitting La Beouf in the balls.

    I agree with everything else you mentioned except for John Hurt, who was a gibbering parody of a madman character. I was amazed he got paid for that. And shouldn’t that character have been REALLY pissed off with the ending?

    @patrick re: Biblical Artefact. Spot on.

  6. Ray Foleyon 24 May 2008 at 1:18 am

    And the fridge! Sorry, I forgot about the fridge! The mushroom cloud was cool though with the silhouette.

    And the explained away the MASSIVE radiation poisoing with a “Lead Lined” sticker and a quick scrub.

  7. Darrenon 24 May 2008 at 4:09 am

    @Foley Firstly, I should have swapped seats with your missus – I was sitting behind the teenchy Neil Hannon. Secondly, don’t worry yourself about the Rick thing. I was only slagging. I’m sure he knows you have nothing but the utmost respect for him. Ahem! πŸ™‚

    As for the feckin’ Monkeys, that’s George Lucas’ post-StarWarsPrequels influence – “What’s this scene missing? Aha, cute furry stuff!” TOO MUCH CG!!!

    It was fun, but pretty damn shite to be honest. I just hope they leave it at that and don’t go for a new trilogy (but I doubt they’ll listen to me).

  8. Bjoernon 08 Aug 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Hi there ! The James Dean picture in this article: Do you know, where you got this from ? I need this picture in a high resolution version. This is a brilliant picture I am looking for since ages now.

    If you do not have this picture in high res, do you know where I can get it from ?

    Thanks in advance
    Bjoern

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