Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


I really wanted to like this movie, the Indiana Jones films are all great fun, and Spielberg is still a great director given the right project. So I went last night to a late showing with some friends hoping for 2 hours of cinematic fun.
It was after Harrison Ford had spoken his first few lines that I got an uneasy feeling about this film. Ford is quite simply old, now I knew he was going to look physically older but there was something missing besides that, there was no twinkle in his eye, he sounded old, his lines seemed forced, he may have been box office magic once but that magic has long since gone and there was no sign of it's return here.
Storyline aside I think the main fault with this film is there isn't a single bit of chemistry between any of the characters, even the dialogue between Indy and Marion seemed stale. The jokes fall flat, again I think a lot of this has to do with Ford's performance, there wasn't a single laugh out loud gag in the whole film. As villains go the Russians aren't a patch on the Nazi from Raiders or Last Crusade, Cate Blanchett looked the part but the villains never felt threatening once, where as Toht from Raiders of the Lost Ark and his SS cronies had genuine menace.
The action sequences should have been edge of the seat stuff, but most just seemed either over the top or just plain phony, such as the vehicle chase through the jungle, what happened to Spielberg's promise of keeping as much of the stuff as real as possible, the whole sequence reeked of green screen and CG. The whole Tarzan sequence through the jungle not only looked poor it was cringe worthy on so many levels.
I'd also read that Spielberg had told Janusz Kaminski the director of photography to study Douglas Slocombe's work on the first 3 films to try and capture that look, he obviously didn't bother. The cinematography had a very flat look, especially in the FX sequences, and the bright areas really seemed to bloom with diffuse filters or post work.
Some of the FX sequences such as the ants really reminded me of The Mummy, at which point it seemed weird that I actually enjoyed that movie more for all it's faults than this film from the series of films that helped inspire The Mummy and it's sequel.
The plot seemed pretty much by the numbers, every mystery seemed to just fall into place with very little investigation, it didn't take much working out that Ray Winstone's character would double cross Indy from the off, and as for the Aliens and Flying Saucers it was all a bit too X-Files for me. For all what I'd seen and read of this movie that inspired me to think it could be fab, in the end it just didn't feel like I was watching and Indiana Jones film.
As I stood up to leave the cinema I heard a girl a few rows back say to her friend "So was that the worst movie you've ever seen ?" Well it wasn't quite the worst film I've ever seen but it'll hardly be remembered as any form of classic unlike the first 3 films. The reaction between my friends was mixed, with one or two hating or disliking it and others with mixed feelings, nobody seemed to love it that's for sure.

2 out of 10, 3 if I was being very kind. :)


Michael G Clark said...

That's really sad, I think like you I was looking forward to it. I haven't heard a good thing yet about it.

Aliens though! I know Lucas has a lot of involvement (or thought of it), was that his idea?

allen said...

I read that at Frank Darabont, who wrote the screen play for Green Mile and Shawskank, had written a treatment that Ford and Speilberg liked but George said no and decided to work on a script himself. That may have been a rumor, but with Lucas' writing skills...

TimeWarden said...

The golden rule seems to be never revisit former glories... Unfortunately, "Star Wars", "Doctor Who" and, now, "Indiana Jones" all seem to support this theory!

Dylan said...

I think the worst thing about it for me was that it was just so forgettable. I think Raiders is by far the best the other 2 are ok, but I'm afraid this last one isn't even that.
There were a few good bits i liked the fifties vibe and even quite like the "family Jones" dynamic. It's just the plot was so uninteresting and over complicated in places I never really got into the film. Quite a few scenes had that awkward badly delivered lines prequel feel to them too.
Another worrying bit was the way Mutt was clearly being groomed to be the next Indy, I didn't mind him in the film but I hope another franchise isn't ruined by Lucas and co trying to carry it on with him.

Natalie said...

I think you are right on about all the things that were off about this flick. The only time I felt like I saw Indy was when he got a little giddy about Marion. It was a fleeting moment.

Niel Bushnell said...

Well I'll stand up and be counted - I enjoyed it. Yes, its over the top and silly in places, but so were the first three. Ford is old, but what did you expect? I was 12 when he first did it, now I'm old!! He can still climb a pile of boxes faster than me. I enjoyed seeing him as an older guy and think he can still pull it off. The plot was far too thick in places but I still think its the third best Indy movie. The main difference between this and the new Star Wars films is that it doesn't retrospectively spoil the earlier films. I hope they make another. Opinions are great, aren't they.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Physically I didn't think Ford did too bad for his age, it was more his mental state, it was like the light was on but nobody was home.
I'd say action wise the 3 Raiders sequels took action to the ridiculous, such as jumping out of a plane on a life raft, jumping the tracks in the mine car chase,a flaming plane chasing them through a tunnel, and most of Indy 4's action. But the action in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the fights etc... had a much more realistic feel to them, they were fist fights and truck chases and Indy did get hurt, it's the trap a lot of sequels like the Die Hard films fell into, of taking quite believable action from the first film and going way way over the top in the sequel movies.

Nick Girls said...

Here, here Ian, have to agree. I enjoyed it too, more so than Last Crusade. My only real quibbles where the first act felt like a first act, not the third act of another film and at the end there were too many of them all wandering around in a gang.

Also, at the end when Ray Winstone is laid on the floor holding onto Indys whip, it looks just like that. He's laid on the floor, just refusing to get up.

And I can't really see the problem with Mutt, he made me laugh on several occasions and was no worse than Short Round as a sidekick.

As for the rumours of a Mutt spin off, not sure if I like the idea, but in truth if there were no Indy 4 and someone said that Lucas and Spielberg were making an old school adventure movie with Shia Leboeuf I'd go see it.

paulhd said...

Well, not much tops Raiders, but I'm going to have to say I loved 4, Ford included..... on no, is this what it feels like to be on the SW prequel side of the fence!

I. N. J. Culbard said...

I absolutely loved it. Sure it had its faults but then so did all the other films, Raiders included. But I actually quite like them all warts included.

I've also read the books (the books are to pulps what the films are to republic serials...if you're just looking for entertaining fluff then they're just the ticket, and Max McCoy, of all the writers, gets Indy spot on), and there's a lot of subtle references to those books throughout the film which is kind of a cool pay off for anyone who's read them (if you like Doc Savage novels, that kind of a hoot, then the books really are worth picking up).

Moonwatcher said...

A poor excuse for a movie, badly plotted,or what little plot it had,it had no real structure, I wondered how did the Conquistadors manage to steal the Alien skull in the first place when later Indy needed the skull to open the actual door to the chamber with the Aliens in ? My girlfriend liked it better than me but we both agreed it was pretty poor on so many levels,the truck chase through the jungle being the worst case of dodgy FX I've seen in a long time.