Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 122 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

IMDb Page

Almost twenty years after the release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), a fourth Indiana Jones picture was sent to theaters: the heavily-criticized Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. So, should’ve this movie been made in the first place? Probably not, but it’s here and there’s nothing we can do about it. For what it’s worth, it’s really not that bad. In fact, if it had not been an Indiana Jones film at all, but rather the start of some new action-adventure series, I think it would have been received much more warmly.

The plot is about archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) being forced to uncover the mystery of a crystal skull before the Soviet Union can. Indy is occasionally forced, at gunpoint, to collaborate with the communists, and this just doesn’t feel right. Anyway, the picture starts off on a fun, energetic note, with Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” blaring. Although the opening scene ruins the mystery of the ending of the first Indiana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), it’s still a sight to see. In fact, for the most part, the flick chugs along fairly smoothly for the first three-quarters. After that, it sort of runs out of steam. The action scenes are generally excellent, typically relying on old-fashioned choreography to excite, rather the quick edits, shaky cam, and close camera angles that were all the rage at the time of its release.

Harrison Ford is still Indiana Jones here, and nobody manages to steal his thunder. John Williams’ musical score is rousing, but the “shiny” cinematography of this increasingly far-fetched film makes everything in it look like it was created using computer-generated imagery (CGI), even stuff that probably wasn’t. This means that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s special effects don’t really feel like much of an improvement over the ones in the original trilogy. Most of the comedy works, but the movie lacks the sense of wonder and danger that made the original three Indy pictures classic.

The violence here mostly has less bite than it did in previous installments. Some of the more ridiculous ideas in the film needed some serious fine-tuning to work properly. There’s also some talky moments and half-baked ideas. Still, it’s mostly a very watchable actioner that holds up better than its reputation. Don’t expect it to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the first three flicks and you might just be entertained.

My rating is 8 outta 10.

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