It’s tough to follow up a successful movie, much less a celebrated trilogy with a rabid fan base like Indiana Jones. Lucas and Spielberg stepped up to the plate with Indy 4 knowing full well that critics would dissect it and fans would want lots of different things. But this one is definitely for the fans. I elevated my Indy cred this week — yeah, I’m embarrassed, I hadn’t seen them all — and it’s a good thing I did. The extreme chases, prolonged fistfights, and signature gross-out scene are all definitely present, and these elements of continuity have carried the movies thus far. A big question for fans is which characters will make a reappearance, and the return of Raiders leading-lady Marion Ravenwood (you knew it from the trailer!) is a huge step in the right direction.
The story’s a bit far-fetched at first, but it pays off if you buy into it. Though it reflects some of the same themes as the previous films, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t incorporate a religious or spiritual artifact as the focus of the hunt. Instead, well, let’s just say it’s very X-Files meets Indiana Jones — but that’s not entirely a bad thing.
It’s a standalone movie; much has happened to Jones’ iconic character since the last film — adding to the anticipation of his return to the big screen. The movie revels in newfound special-effects because it can, and that makes for some amazing sequences. A closing scene incorporated — hands down — some of the best special effects I’ve ever seen. However, both fans and critics will say the absence of special effects made the old movies better because they rely on sets, humor, and practicality.
We missed the ravaged, one-sleeved, battered and bloody Harrison Ford by the end of the movie, but loved the Han Solo nod, “I have a bad feeling about this,” in addition to the ingenious snake scene. No spoiler! You already knew there was gonna be a snake scene.
— Nicole Chavez
My name is Ashley Lindstrom and I specialize in ruining movies for people. At least that’s what my baby sister decided my business card should say after we saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull together. I’m critical out of love for the medium, dammit. (Don’t you know that I want to love every movie I see?)
Problem is, I’m far more reverent of any George Lucas property than he seems to be. Can’t anything he resurrects be free from masturbatory CG? Indy 4, for example: As the film takes its sweet time negotiating the time lapse since Last Crusade, Jones escapes the Soviets in Area 51 (S.S. hearts aliens and broken families, after all), and finds himself on a nuclear testing site. Why? Because Lucas and Spielberg wanted to show us how good they can make a mushroom cloud, that’s why.
We all agree that Spielberg can make a film. But the wondrously-wrought-nevertheless-flat CG is atonal to the textured, earthy, campy feel of Indy. It’s like if Sam Raimi went back to Evil Dead and added some polish. Gross. Sure, it’s a new film for a new generation, but since when did continuity go the way of the dodo?
I mean, by all means go see it. Who can resist Ford in that role? Plus, as much as you’d like to hate Shia LaBeouf for the character he’s been cast as, you won’t. (Though had he, or anything less than a superior intellect, been responsible for the demise of Cate Blanchett’s villainess, Irina Spalko, I can’t say how this pithy review would have read …). You will hate the scant use of Ray Winstone though, in a role pilfered straight from Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy. Maybe they’ll get it right next time ...
— Ashley Lindstrom