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May 20, 2024

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Woohoo!

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Rated PG-13

Bernie said:

You know, I have to admit that I was holding my breath when we went to this movie. I had thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed the other three "Indy" movies, and I knew that there were a lot of ways to screw up this one. And I haven't been much impressed with Spielberg's directing efforts since Amistad way back in 1997. (If you want to see a great movie, go rent that one.) Don't get me started on how I think Tom Cruise nearly ruined Spielberg's career.

And while I may be a bit of a rube in the movie business, I am not rube enough to not know the difference between films with good taste and films that taste good, to paraphrase the old tuna. Some movies are groundbreaking, serious pieces of art that add to the collective consciousness, movies like Citizen Kane, or The Godfather, or the original Star Wars movie which trashed every special effects film ever made and created an entirely new kind of movie making. And then there are movies that are just plain old fun to see -- all trapeze artists, fire eaters, clown cars and trained animals.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one of the latter, so we won't go into the discussions of "relevance" of the story, or whether the action scenes have credibility, or whether the characters lack depth. That's probably all true, but it's all sugar-coated with quintessential Spielberg movie-making magic.

Here's the story: Indy goes off in search of something, is hounded by bad guys with accents, discovers that there is truth in the old wives' tales, and saves the day by keeping the magic stuff out of the bad guys' hands. In the process, he encounters bugs, snakes, skeletons, Rube Goldberg security systems, and clichéd native populations (I'm sure I heard one of the actors actually say "oinga-boinga," but I could be wrong) with blow guns and poison tipped darts.

Now, take that story and layer it with Spielberg's ability to create stunning visual images and slicker than snot effects, and what have you got? Box office gold, I suspect.

If you've got the time and a few extra bucks, go ahead and treat yourself to this one. It's a fittingly rollicking, rollercoaster ending to a wonderful series of movies.

Oinga-boinga, Indy, and thanks for the ride.

Sand said:

We've been planning on going to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ever since we heard it was being made. Come on, it's Indy. However, I had my reservations, as Harrison Ford is getting up there in years and isn't quite as cute as he used to be; and action movies with aging actors can be -- embarrassing, to say the least. If the movie looked like it was going to be stinkeroo, I could wait for it to come out on DVD.

But when we went to see Iron Man, we saw a preview trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull -- ah, and they had me at the first scene showing Harrison Ford in his trademark "Indy" hat. (I happen to have owned a succession of brown fedoras since I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark.)

Because I absolutely hate surprises, even in movies, I visited the Internet Movie Database to see what early reviews were saying about this movie (whose title is just too long and will hereafter be referred to as "Crystal Skull") and was shocked to see some really nasty reviews that cited the movie as being "hokey" and "unrealistic" and "just plain same-old same-old." Eek. Maybe, I thought, I should just give this one a pass. Yet there were some good reviews, too, and there was that hat ...

Apparently the bad reviews were by people who either didn't see the same movie I did, or who were unclear on the concept of "Indiana Jones."

You see, Indiana Jones is not your average fellow who works in an office. He's not your average archeologist, either. He's a trouble- and nutcase-magnet. Think about Raiders of the Lost Ark -- incredibly magical artifact, nasty Nazis obsessed with winning WWII by any means possible; Temple of Doom -- mystical artifact, monkey-brain eating psychopathic head of a cult of death; Last Crusade -- miraculous artifact, more psychotic Nazis, seeking eternal life.

This time, we've got a mysterious artifact, and a Communist Russian team seeking to control the minds of their enemies and rule the world.

This is the world of Indiana Jones. He's a super-hero, for heaven's sake. His super-powers are his encyclopedic memory, his sarcasm, and his ability to kick people out of cars. My favorite line in the movie, which to me, set the tone of the action, had to do with Indy escaping, his pursuers chasing him, avowing he could never elude them, and the double agent Mac shouting, "You don't know him!"

He's right. His adversaries don't know him. Indiana Jones just won't give up. When it comes to escaping, he's the all-or-nothing guy. There's a beguiling utter abandon when Indy's in a pinch: he just fights, throwing punches and kicks, or runs, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. He keeps his eyes open for any chance, and when it comes -- pow!

So if you're looking for philosophical content, a statement about the world and the life we lead -- stay home and read a history book. If you want to see Indy kick butt and dodge bullets, by all means, go see Crystal Skull.

In spite of machine guns and falling rock, this is probably the most kid-friendly Indiana Jones movie made so far. The chase scenes were crazy funny, and perfectly timed with the musical score.

Yes, funny. I laughed hard through many of the scenes of the film. They were meant to be funny. Some tongue in cheek, some just outrageous slapstick.

I must admit that one of the reasons I considered holding out for the DVD rather than seeing the movie was the inclusion of Shia LaBeouf (as Mutt Williams) in a major role. He was irritating in I, Robot, forgettable in Transformers. ... He did a great job in this film. Maybe he was just waiting for a decently-written character.

The reprise of Marion Ravenwood's character was pleasantly played by Karen Allen -- as "Mutt's" mother, you could see where he got his attitude problems.

Cate Blanchett was wonderful as always; in the role of Dr. Irina Spalko, she was over-the-top wicked, just as a an Indy arch-villain should be.

I liked the movie very much. Any movie that has me laughing out loud an hour after it's over is a winner in my book.

Good old Indy. There will never be anyone else quite like him, ever.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2008-05-26
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