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Like when you discovered Santa wasn't real...

  • Apr 23, 2009
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Looking back at my childhood in South London, the fact my parents had no money and worked very hard for very little was tempered by the escape from reality afforded me by film. And as a child, the films that stood out above all else, that revealed another world of possibility and adventure, were Indiana Jones and Star Wars. I've also probably seen The Neverending Story a hundred times too, but the enduring quality of Indiana Jones meant that even last year we dropped $60 on the box trilogy set to help Spielberg build another wing on his mansion.
Needless to say, I was excited when I heard the Crystal Skull was being made. My initial nervousness about ol' Harrison readying to collect his social security was replaced by intrepedation when I saw how the trailers made light of his age, and it seemed the whole thing could work. Even the casting supported the idea that this could be a quality addition to the franchise. So I booked expensive tickets in a gallery-like theater on opening night, to share a revisiting of my childhood with my wife, in a evening that would be forever memorable. 

But in retrospect, as with all of life's great moments of failure, it's astonishing how monumentally wrong you can be. 

Pretty much the second the movie opened on an unnecessary CGI gopher, I could feel the blood draining out of my head. I'd even overlooked George Lucas' thorough trashing of the Star Wars series and optimistically cast my mind back to the pre-Jar Jar Binks era, but I'd never expected every single frame of the movie to jump up and down mercilessly on the childhood dreams of an entire generation. George Lucas must spend his days torturing the Easter Bunny while calling collect to random children and telling them Santa Claus doesn't exist.

Like the boxing match from hell, the punches kept coming, each one landing solidly and leading toward a final inevitable knockout, with a side order of irreparable brain damage. The opening Area 51 scene really hurt, but I'd already forgotten about the pain when Cate Blanchett - one of the best actresses in the world today - appeared with a stereotype evil Russian villain that makes the woman with the stabby shoe from James Bond look a Renaissance sculpture of character study. But wait, Bond, sorry I mean Indiana, then inexplicably ends up in an atomic bomb testing town and somehow survives by being blown 2 miles in the air in a lead-lined refrigerator. 25 minutes in, I was already cursing so much that mothers in front of me were giving me stern looks, while the fathers looked at me with a sense of foreboding in their eyes that simply said, "Yes, my friend, I know".

We had officially lost cabin pressure when Shia Laboeuf (French for 'Where's the beef?') decided to grace our screens and prove once again that he's never been in a good film, and is rapidly becoming the Ben Affleck of the decade. Nobody sucks life out of drama more than Shia, except perhaps Tea Leone and Keira "twice-nightly" Knightly trying to perform Hamlet, and he's been routinely out-acted by a whole range of inanimate objects. This may have been the only time in my life that I've felt sorry for Karen Allen.

By the time we were subjected to Crystal Skulls, aliens and feats of plot logic that don't just insult the audience but actively point and laugh at the missing money from your wallet, I was ready for Ewoks to appear from nowhere to save the day. I left the theater in a morose state that I haven't felt since Pop Idol was sold to US TV, and realized at that moment I really didn't care what happened to Pandas, and recycling is a waste of time since the universe will end one day anyway.

But here's the kicker. Just as in The Ring, where nobody can ever escape Samara, after watching Indy 4 I realized that Lucas and Spielberg have left an indelible mark on the audience that can never be removed. Re-watching the first 3 films, it became instantly obvious that actually these were all pretty awful movies too, full of illogical plot leaps, 1-dimensional characters (a line?) and drawn-out sequences that lead to more drawn-out sequences. 

And if they wasn't bad enough, in one epiphanic moment I saw the major flaw in all the films: the bad guys would never win if Indy simply went to the local bar, got blitzed and did nothing. In none of the films did they stand the remotest chance of figuring out the secrets and power of the lost treasures without his help. Think about the first one: the Nazis would never have known that Karen Allen had the secret trinket, they were digging in the wrong place and would never have found the ark, and then - yes, then! - if they had found the Ark and taken it to Berlin, rather than the evil spirits just killing a few Nazis, they would have wiped out Hitler and his entire nutcase army! Therefore, Indiana Jones just prolonged the Second World War! So much for my childhood hero.

Let's just say this: I'm never trusting George Lucas again.

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July 30, 2009
Glad I'm not the only one baffled by Shia Lebouf or however you spell his name. I was never an Indy fan and other then the first one I didn't really see any of the others, I hear the first one is the only good one.
May 08, 2009
I honestly can't argue with that - I did bitch about the Phantom Menace! But you're right - one of the reasons which Terminator 3 didn't look good after the first two films is that the fan-based storylines have been infinitely more interesting that the rehashing of the same particular thread...
May 08, 2009
Aw come on. I'll bet that's exactly what you said after THE PHANTOM MENACE. Anytime anybody let's such a long time lapse between installments of an iconic series they're almost automatically doomed to failure because the fans hopes and expectations have built to such ridiculous heights. Plus fan fiction and comix etc have already put out enormous amounts of terrific material themselves so there is a lot of existing  material  to contend with, some of really first rate.
May 08, 2009
Yes, true, but you're forgetting one important fact: that these films still suck, regardless of the fact that they're being compared to the originals. :)
May 10, 2009
That's true too, but it doesn't negate what I said either. =)
February 23, 2010
The second "Terminator" was an improvement over the origin and that was seven years later and most people feel the same way about "Aliens" which came also came out seven years after the original film. I think sometimes when the sequels come too quickly, the filmmakers and writers become sloppy under the pressure to deliver a hit film in a short amount of time.
February 23, 2010
Agreed on both counts, Count. But we're not talking about 6 or 7 years here, we're talking about 20.
February 25, 2010
One big difference though. Both those sequels came after only ONE movie, Indiana Jones and Star Wars had to follow a trilogy, both of which were extremely popular.
February 26, 2010
April 24, 2009
Thanks! Yes, it was a terrible moment when I realized that Indy's been helping all those bad guys for years... :-)
April 23, 2009
Wow, I agree with so much of what you said in this review. I had never thought that the world would have been better off if Indy had stayed at the University, but I see where you are coming from. He inevitably leads the bad guys to what they are looking for (I guess the exception is the crappy Temple of Doom, where they found the stones without him) Great review and thanks
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review by . May 02, 2011
You know how The Last Crusade was a step in the right direction for Indiana Jones after the disappointing sequel? Well, this is another step, a re-step if you will in the wrong direction, and easily the worst film in one of the greatest series of all time. This film brings the good old-school action and must have been quite the breath of fresh air at the time it came out, but it's still very disappointing and has very questionable special effects, plus one plot element that ruined the entire …
review by . November 17, 2010
So, based on some reviews I've read and comments I've seen from viewers on TV...apparently INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDON OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is supposed to have been a life-changing movie. At least a groundbreaking film sure to vault to "all-time classic" status. Because there sure are a lot of disappointed viewers around.     If, however, you have the more reasonable expectation of a highly-entertaining, highly-implausible action film that hearkens back to the "cliff-hanger" …
review by . May 23, 2008
Had I known then what I know now I would have passed on seeing this movie and settled for a root canal or possibly done my taxes again.    The idea of bringing Indiana Jones back to the big screen is a great one, one that can appeal to both the young and old. However when the rubber hits the road this movie is a disaster. There is zero character development, and the storyline is incredibly lame.    Lucas has done it again, like Star Wars, he has taken a great …
review by . February 23, 2010
A little different for Indiana Jones, but still a solid entry
Well it's not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark or The Last Crusade, but Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull is still better then The Temple of Doom and will stand proud with its predecessors as a solid action flick living up to an American icon. This long awaited final chapter to the story of treasure hunter Harry "Indiana" Jones Jr. may not live up to the greatness which were the first and third entries, but don't let a simple comparison ruin the fun of this fourth movie; …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
not worth your time if you value the original trilogy of indiana jones movies
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
Aliens? Are you serious?
review by . December 17, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Looking for clues as to why this films sucks.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!      After 19 years, Indiana Jones returns to the silver screen in what may be Steven Spielberg's worst film ever (or until now, anyway). Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a bust. The screenplay was amateurishly written and the film itself is directed with juvenile enthusiasm. The overall mood of the picture doesn't even feel like that of Indiana Jones, but rather more like National Treasure, The Mummy Returns or …
Quick Tip by . April 01, 2010
Jumped the shark the moment the Indiana Jones survived the nuclear blast.
Quick Tip by . November 19, 2009
Utterly Disappointing attempt by Spielberg! I won't even bother writing a full review for this one...
review by . May 13, 2009
Older, wiser, bolder....and still terrified of snakes - which sets up a good scene, since a large python plays a key role late in the movie. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth (and what I assume will be the last - at least with Harrison Ford holding the torch) in this epic trilogy. We are all aware of the infamous crash at Roswell New Mexico some fifty years ago....well Crystal Skull begins ten years after that. The Russians have taken Dr. Jones to Hangar 51 and force him to reveal …
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About this movie


Nearly 20 years after riding his last Crusade, Harrison Ford makes a welcome return as archaeologist/relic hunter Indiana Jones inIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, an action-packed fourth installment that's, in a nutshell, less memorable than the first three but great nostalgia for fans of the series. Producer George Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp (War of the Worlds) set the film during the cold war, as the Soviets--replacing Nazis as Indy's villains of choice and led by a sword-wielding Cate Blanchett with black bob and sunglasses--are in pursuit of a crystal skull, which has mystical powers related to a city of gold. After escaping from them in a spectacular opening action sequence, Indy is coerced to head to Peru at the behest of a young greaser (Shia LaBeouf) whose friend--and Indy's colleague--Professor Oxley (John Hurt) has been captured for his knowledge of the skull's whereabouts. Whatever secrets the skull holds are tertiary; its reveal is the weakest part of the movie, as the CGI effects that inevitably accompany it feel jarring next to the boulder-rolling world of Indy audiences knew and loved. There's plenty of comedy, delightful stunts--ants play a deadly role here--and the return ofRaiderslove interest Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, once shrill but now softened, giving her ex-love bemused glances and eye-rolls as he huffs his way to save the day. Which brings us to Ford: bullwhip still in hand, he's a little ...
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Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: May 22, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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