Flashback Friday: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Well I might be four weeks late, but at least it hasn’t been 19 years between drinks and, as they say, better late than never.Now, without further ado, let us continue on then, with the final installment of the Indiana Jones franchise: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That’s right, the long awaited fourth chapter and sequel to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

(this time we’ve moved on from the Germans, to the Russians! Sigh).

I remember seeing this film not long after it came out, because I was having some kind of ‘thing’ about Shia LaBeouf. It was about the time he was being touted as the next Tom Hanks and was on the cover Vanity Fair… and just about to begin the downward spiral. I still actually really rate him, but he’s certainly made some questionable career moves of late and to be honest, I haven’t seen him in anything since I saw him in Lawless (which I also rated very highly). I think that, no matter what crazy antics he gets up to though, I’ll always love him because of this video. Anyway, I saw this movie because Shia was in it and right from the word go, I was confused. I was confused then because I didn’t remember any of the original films and I am equally as confused now, because I just don’t get how anyone at any studio thought that this film, in this format was a good idea.

I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but there is something about the way that the film was shot that makes me think that some styles of film making don’t carry well over time. Coming from a franchise with this much of reputation and film makers like Spielberg and Lucas makes it even more perplexing because I have seen a lot of their normal fare and this just feels like it was phoned in. It’s not like they have a shortage of talent either – you’ve got Cate Blanchett as the villain, Shia LeBoef as Mutt and John Hurt as Ox, the insane archaeologist. There is no reason that this shouldn’t work. But it doesn’t.


Indy is looking a little worse for wear in this episode, that’s evident from minute one and really, you have to wonder if Harrison Ford hasn’t bitten off more than he can chew by taking this one on. Thus, we are introduced to his son, Mutt (don’t even start me up on that name). Mutt, it seems, was pegged to  take over the franchise, but I think our friend Shia was equally as unhappy with how the finished product turned out and wasn’t in a hurry to get involved again. On the positive side, I guess, we are treated to the re-emergence of Marion Ravenwood, who I have been rooting for since minute one. Poor Marion, it seems she got the be the mother of Jones’ son, while he was off running around on adventures without a care in the world. Just another example of what a top bloke he is.

What really does me in about this film though, more than any of the others, is the damn ending. Not just because it’s the same as all the others, in so far as Indy not really coming out any better off- spiritually or otherwise, and not just because the special effects are shit… but because of the UFO that launches out of the ground, carrying 12 crystal aliens.

Aliens. Seriously? Come on man! When you stack this film up against the other three it’s not only inferior, it actually detracts from the entire franchise (kind of like Lost Boys: The Tribe and Lost Boys: The Thirst, both of which hurt my heart). I know that the mythology of this film is not just the product of Hollywood. I know a lot of the early discussion about the different kind of crystal skulls is based in historical fact, but still, taking the plot from history and adventure into the realm of the paranormal just feels like the wrong choice. I can see why fans of the original films hated this one. You certainly come out of it feeling like you’ve been the unwilling participant in some kind of practical joke. Speaking of the special effect too, what are they all about? I mean they don’t even come close to looking real. Overall, it kind of gives the move a comic-book feel and I don’t see why it needed that.

At least I get my happy ending I suppose – with the marriage of Jones and Marion. ‘How much of human life is lost in waiting?’ Damn it, Ox, that is the most intelligent thing that comes out of this whole film and even though it’s a highlight, I just don’t know if your wisdom is enough to redeem it.

Safe to say, I’ll not be rushing back to watch this one again. The other three, maybe, but 4?? Nope, even Shia isn’t going to get me over the line with this one… and you know, I think he’d be cool with that.

(you do you, Harrison Ford, this ain’t the franchise for me)


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