I remember seeing the first three Indiana Jones movies while in my early teens, so when I learned a new adventure was being released, I was excited to see it. In some ways, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” met my expectations, and in some ways, I was disappointed. Consequently, this is going to be a flip-floppy review.
It’s been nineteen years since we’ve seen our whip-toting hero in action. A lot has happened to Indy since then. He’s still teaching and he’s still going out on brave expeditions, but as we come in to the movie, we discover he’s been kidnapped by some Russians who are determined at all costs to continue their research into the sciences, primarily the sciences that deal with the mind. Their leader, a scary woman played by Cate Blanchett, is in search of the key to the mysteries of the universe. She thinks Indy can lead her to the first of those keys, a highly magnetized box containing the remains of a cadaver.
Meanwhile, Indy is contacted by Mutt Williams, (Shia LeBeouf) a young man who says his mother knows Indy. He doesn’t recognize the name of Mary Williams, but the story the boy brings him is enough to get him on the case. His old friend Professor Oxley has discovered a map to a city made of gold, called “El Dorado” by some. Ox has been kidnapped, as has Mutt’s mother, and Mutt needs Indy to help free the two captives.
A whole bunch of chase scenes later, we are reunited with Mutt’s mother, who turns out to be none other than Marion, Indy’s old girlfriend. It only takes us about thirty milliseconds to figure out that Mutt is Indy’s son, something we actually suspected right from the start, even before we knew who his mother was.
I enjoyed seeing the cool artifacts and all that, but Indy’s getting old, and that’s a fact. He’s still cool, but he’s not the same. He’s not as spry, his stunts aren’t very good, and we didn’t even get to see him use his whip all that often. I felt the chase scenes were overdone and quite frankly, I got bored. And the ending …
Oh, the ending. What can I say about the ending?
Well, let me back up a little.
In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indy was in search of the Ark of the Covenant. This was an actual historical item and we had the opportunity to postulate about all the legends and mysteries and contemplate some “what ifs” to go along with the adventure. In “Temple of Doom,” he’s searching out a relic in India. In “The Last Crusade,” he’s looking for the Holy Grail, which some say didn’t exist, but still, the storyline was based on history and it was fun to see him look into the past and piece together bits of the story. Each of these movies had some historical element to them that made them more plausible.
But how does “Crystal Skull” end? Well, see, it turns out the skull belonged to an alien who came to this planet and brought the ancient Mayans farming skills and other knowledge they didn’t have. The movie ends with a giant space ship bursting out of the ground and taking the Russians to another dimension with them.
How did we go from storylines based on somewhat plausible historical fact to chasing after urban legends as if they were real?
Of course, there are those who might argue that the Ark of the Covenant was also an urban legend. They might not have a problem accepting the introduction of aliens into the film. But I don’t believe the ark was a legend, I believe it really existed. My personal enjoyment of the film was disrupted because of that belief.
I’m just speaking for myself—you might enjoy the movie. It’s not the biggest waste of time I can think of, but I’m glad I didn’t shell out the eight bucks to see it in the theater. I do caution that it is a PG-13, not for sexual references or for language, but for action-related violence, of which there is quite a bit.
Click here to return to the Neighborhood.