Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBoeuf, Karen Allen
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 122 mins
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is an American film and the fourth in the Indiana Jones series. In 1957, KGB agents are searching for paranormal artefacts around the world that may offer military use, but Indiana Jones must stop them before they can get close.
Much like the Star Wars prequels, Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull isn’t an atrocious film, it’s just very poor in comparison to the beloved originals, and suffers from huge problems in its execution. It definitely has its moments, and it can be enjoyable from time to time, but for the most part, this is an incredibly disappointing return for the series.
Before I get all negative, however, I want to touch on the positives that have been overlooked as this film’s reputation has got worse and worse over the years. For one, Harrison Ford is still great as Indiana Jones. Sure, he’s not up to the standard he was in the original trilogy, and he may not be as fun to watch, but, just like his return as Han Solo in The Force Awakens, Ford gives it a good go, and does a great job of bringing an older version of the beloved character to the screen.
Also, there’s one sequence in this film that’s just as good as anything we had in the original trilogy. In the first act, about twenty minutes in, there’s a very enjoyable car chase through the centre of the town where Jones teaches. The reason for that is that it’s not too chaotic, there’s not too much noticeable CGI thrown in there, and the production design for 1950s middle America is fantastic, making this the scene that really makes this feel like a classic adventure serial, not a big-budget modern blockbuster.
Unfortunately, that’s what the rest of this film is, and my issues with Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull boil down to two main points.
Firstly, the CGI. The thing that I really adored about Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Temple Of Doom was that they felt like classic adventure movies. 99% of the time, all the effects were practical, and that was the case too for The Last Crusade, making it feel so much more like a tangible, believable and realistic classic film.
However, in this fourth film, the CGI completely shatters that illusion. From the pointless animated gophers in the opening sequence, to the ridiculous CGI ants and monkeys that we meet in the jungle (and don’t even get me started on the ugliest-looking movie ending I’ve seen in a long time), there’s so many big-budget visual effects that, although they’re well-made, just completely ruin the classic adventure characteristic of this film.
Secondly, the story. Whilst the first half an hour isn’t bad, the rest of the story here is seriously poor. We know that the establishing phases in the Indiana Jones movies do drag on a little, but not to the extent of Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, where we have to wait over an hour to actually get into the story. Apart from a quick car chase or two, there’s very little in the first hour that actually has any impact on the plot later on in the movie.
But in even more of a let-down, the more action-oriented story following that is just as bad. The action sequences are terrible in comparison to the consistent brilliance of the originals, and that takes away a huge chunk of the fun, but it’s the totally preposterous plot that takes the biscuit for really making this such a disappointing film.
I won’t spoil it, but the ending of the film feels like it was written by an eight year old who just thought that it would be a cool idea, but had no real way of bringing the film to a controlled ending. We’ve had ridiculous plot elements before, but they were toned down in comparison to the explosion of madness at the end here, which really annoyed me, and left me with a bad impression of the film.
Overall, like I said before, Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull isn’t horrific. It has its moments, and at least Harrison Ford isn’t so bad. But in comparison to one of the greatest trilogies of all time, this is a unbelievably disappointing return for the Indiana Jones series, as it fails to capture any of the classic magic of the adventure genre, and replaces it with ridiculous plot elements and ugly CGI, and that’s why it gets a 6.7 from me.