I give this sorry excuse of a film a half of a star. This movie does not even belong in the same box set as the other three Indiana Jones'. It is absolutely atrocious.
After I watched this movie I listened to the Talkback radio episode concerning the film. The Merc and Have Hope pointed out all the same problems I had with the film. I am not stating this to prove that there is some majority that agrees with me. The mere number of people does not make something correct. I am just stating this because I am probably going to use some of their material and I want to give the credit to them.
The movie opens as all the previous Indiana Jones' do. The Paramount mountain appears on the screen and then it morphs into some kind of rock or mound related to the movie. In this particular film it morphs into a prairie dog mound hole thing. Then, shortly after, a cgi prairie dog exits from the hole, and it turns to the camera, and smiles. A cgi prairie dog smiles at the audience. This is how Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins. It begins like Toy Story or Monsters Inc. . Furthermore, since the prairie dog smiles at the audience, it destroys the fourth wall. There are some films where destroying the fourth wall has a purpose. The Indiana Jones films are not such films. Therefore, this prairie dog should have not smiled, but better yet it should not have even existed. Of course, they could have also used a real prairie dog; however, then the prairie dog would have not gone with the rest of the cgi motif of this film. It is as if cgi vomited all over the film reel. The worst cgi scene is when a cgi jungle cutter is cutting through a cgi jungle. It was like I was watching a video game. Throughout the movie I kept thinking of the boulder in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark . That was a real boulder. It was not actually made of rock, but it was a real sphere. If that movie was made today it would be all cig; thus, it would look like shit. Additionally, that boulder scene would have been incredibly complex if they had they luxury of cgi. Later in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as Indiana is approaching the city of gold this complicated cgi rock obelisk lifts up other rocks like some big claw or something. They could have simply found a lock, like later in the movie when they press the crystal skull to an imprint and a rock door opens. However, instead they used a ridiculous cgi obelisk to open some vanishing stairs.
However, the ridiculous and absurd are staples of this film. Not good staples, but if absurd was not on the menu Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
would have been completely different. It probably would not even be
about a crystal skull's kingdom. Some of the most outrageous moments are
when the crew falls down three water falls in a row, when Shia LeBeouf
sword fights with Cate Blanchett in jeeps racing through a cgi jungle,
when Shia LeBeouf swings through the jungle with monkeys, when Harrison
Ford survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead fridge, when Ray
switches from America to the Soviet Union four times, when they are
attacked by man eating ants, when the jeep lands on a tree that slowly
lowers it into the water then flings back to hit a cliff side and knock
Soviets into the water. The list goes on, and on, and on. Now, these
scenes may have a purpose in some other films; however, they have no
purpose in an Indiana Jones film. The previous three Indiana Jones
constructed a reality for the character. When a fictional reality is
created certain rules of that reality are created. For example, in the
Indiana Jones reality the ark of the covenant, the shankara
stone, and the holy grail have supernatural abilities. Therefore, it is
fine for the crystal skull to have supernatural abilities. Another rule
of the Indiana Jones reality is that he does carry out some difficult
to believe tasks. For example, fighting a man into a plane propeller,
using a large rolling gong to cover himself from gun fire, fighting on
mine carts, cutting a bridge in half and surviving. However, there is
the possibility that any of those events could happen in real life, but
there is no chance a man could survive falling down three water falls in
a row. Furthermore, the last water fall was like a Niagara falls
monster. I am willing to suspend my disbelief and believe the survival
of one tumble down a water fall, but not three and certainly not in a
row. The Indiana Jones reality never led me to understand that I would
have to suspend my disbelief that far. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
went beyond its own boundaries. Just because creators of a fictional
reality create the fictional laws and rules does not mean they can
violate them later. They cannot violated the rules of their own reality
after they are created. The best example, and I believe only example, of
this occurring in the earlier films is in The Temple of Doom
when Indiana Jones, Shorty, ans Willie Scott, jump from a plane in an
inflatable raft, then ride the raft to the bottom of the mountain.
Actions like that cannot happen in the Indiana Jones reality; however, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is one raft scene after another.
Some other problems I had with this film were the discovery of the crystal skull and the natives. LeBeouf and Ford discover the crystal skull in some old graveyard halfway through the film. Aside from a couple of ninja natives, in Latin American, which makes no sense, and then being peacefully kidnapped by the Soviets, nothing dangerous happens. The boulder, the heart ripping guy, the three tasks leading to the knight, these are all the lethal tasks Indiana Jones had to face and defeat before getting the treasure. In The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Indiana Jones just picks it up. There are no poison darts, no snakes, no closing compartments, nothing. Furthermore, it happens in the middle of the film. The rest of the film builds up to the lack luster kingdom. Of course, the kingdom could have been the real treasure; however, discovering that was not even deadly. There were some natives, which I will address in a minute, but they were easily defeated. There was not even a fight. Then there was that obelisk, and a locked door. Once again no poison darts, no saw blades, no invisible bridges. Nothing. Except the Soviets. However, that is not sufficient. The Nazis were always trying to kill Indiana, but so were the booby traps guarding the actual treasure.
The next problem is
the natives. First there are ninja native kids in Latin America, which
does not really make any sense. However, more importantly, when they
approach the kingdom a whole mass of natives suddenly climb out of the
walls to stop Indiana. I have the following questions: Are these modern
day natives or are these like ghosts or spirits? Where these natives
just hiding in the walls waiting for someone for all of eternity, or did
they know Indiana was coming? If they were spirits or ghosts it would
make sense if they had been waiting in the walls the whole time;
however, if they are living modern day natives they cannot be standing
in the walls the whole time. Therefore, they knew Indiana was coming,
but how? None of this is addressed, and it appears the natives were just
thrown in because it was an Indiana Jones film. However, not every
Indiana Jones film had natives. They are not a necessity.
major problem is that the movie depicts the quest for knowledge as a
vice. Blanchett wants to find the kingdom of the crystal skull to know
everything. Of course, she wants to use this unbounded knowledge to
conquer America for the Soviets. However, her motive for seeking
knowledge is not played up enough. It is her motive that is a vice,
seeking knowledge is a virtue. Furthermore, Indiana Jones himself
searches for knowledge. That is what every Indiana Jones film is about.
Therefore, if Blanchett is vicious for simply seeking knowledge, then so
is Indiana Jones. Thus, the film contradicts its own message. Seeking
knowledge is vicious, evident through the vicious characterization of
Blanchett; however, Indiana Jones, who also seeks knowledge, is
depicted virtuously. Another problem with this quest for knowledge is
that it is indicated that humans do not have the capacity to understand
things. Only aliens, sorry I mean interdenominational beings, can
comprehend the complex. Thus, the film also degrades man by lowering him
There are several other problems. I keep forgetting some because there are so many. Another problem is the under use of Karen Allen. She had maybe four lines. Also, the time in which it was revealed that LeBeouf was Indiana's son was awkward. It appeared like it was just thrown in at that time because they needed to do it and could not find a good place. The only positive points of this movie were the motorcycle chase across the college campus and through an anti-communist protest, a restaurant fight that started the chase, and the ending. If one is an Indiana Jones fan, I would not recommend seeing this movie. It is not an Indiana Jones film. If one is not and Indiana Jones fan and has not seen the other three, I would not recommend seeing this movie. It is not an Indiana Jones film.