Friday, May 23, 2008

Not as easy as it used to be.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

I'm just going to do a little mini-review. I'll include spoilers at the end of this and warn you of same if you care.

First off - I enjoyed the hell out of the movie. But then I'm a big fan of the other films in the series so take that as what it's worth.

The reviewer for our local paper said watching the movie was like "rekindling an old romance." I think that's spot on. Watching this movie felt like getting back together with an old boyfriend or girlfriend that you hadn't dated in over a decade. It's familiar yet surreal.

The thing that really sells the film is Harrison Ford. The last film I saw him in was a movie he did a couple of years ago called "Firewall." I couldn't help but wonder what the hell happened to him. His acting had degenerated into growling or yelling out every line. The devil-may-care attitude and the impish grin were gone. He was just phoning it in.

Well the Harrison Ford we remember, the Han Solo Harrison Ford, is back. The look, the smile and the swagger are all there. For all the shortcomings in this movie (there are a few) having Ford back in form goes a long way towards making this film work.

Then there's Karen Allen. She is still absolutely beautiful. When she's arguing with Indy or when she's just smiling I felt like I was a kid again. Marion was always the perfect woman for Indy. Willy was just plain annoying and that German spy lady from Last Crusade simply boring. Marion was the one that could kick Indy's ass.

As for Shia LaBeouf's Mutt character I was pleasantly surprised. The from what I'd seen before hand they'd portrayed the character as a wisecracking smartass. There's a little of that. He calls Indy "gramps."

But Mutt is also smart and more than a little bit sentimental. There's a point in the film where he's crying and Indy puts a hand on his shoulder and I expected him to push Indy's hand off and go back into tough guy mode. Instead he kind of did a nod to acknowledge Indy's kindness and keeps crying.

This is an example of one of the strengths in this film- it's willingness to go against what we expect. Sure; there's a LOT of the familiar in here but there's also a bunch of scenes where my mind would be a step ahead with what the next line would be and I would be pleasantly wrong. When we were leaving the theater my kids teased me because I'd told them I was sure Indy would say at some point that "it's not the mileage, it's the years." That line wasn't in the movie.

The action scenes were all crackerjack as you might expect, with my favorite scene being a motorcycle chase near the start of the film. Ford pulled off the stunts pretty well for a guy his age.

It wasn't a perfect film by a long shot. There were a couple of things in the last act that were groan-worthy in their silliness. I'd just kind of remind myself that the other movies had similar stuff. It's not like we shouldn't expect this sort of stuff.

Problems aside this is a fun movie and brought a smile to my face. Indiana Jones is back. And while I wouldn't put this at the top of the list of Indiana Jones movies I wouldn't say it doesn't belong with them on the same shelf as I would the new Star Wars films in that series.


What worked

* Harrison Ford and Karen Allen.
* Great action sequences in particular a motorcycle chase scene and a sequence involving a truck chase and ants.
* John Williams score.
* Nostalgia factor.

What worked not so much

* Middle part of film drags a bit.
* Story seemed a bit piecemeal which makes sense considering it's history.
* Great actors (John Hurt, Jim Broadbent) given absolutely nothing to do.
* Commies don't make as good of villains as Nazis.

What sucked

* Mcguffin and resolution of same at end had George Lucas' stank all over it.
* Tarzan.
* Where are the cameos by Short Round and Salah?
* Realizing that a Indy film or two could've easily happened since Last Crusade and didn't.


Ubermilf said...

So, that crush I had in junior high will come back?


Arkonbey said...

I really, REALLY want to see this.

However, I am a bit miffed that it is coming out at all. Why? Last spring I decided to buy a fedora. Partly because I'd just watched The Maltese Falcon and mostly because thought it'd be nice to wear a quality hat. I wear my all the time when it's cool out. The only decent one I could find local was brown. It's casual enough for wearing with a wool plaid shirt while splitting wood and nice enough to wear with my Harris tweed sportcoat when stepping out.

But, Indy's the problem. He's back and I have a brown fedora. So what if thousands of men wore brown fedoras out, Indy wore one and now and I look like a fanboy.

Ah, I was gonna get a gray short brim for summer anyway.

Randal Graves said...

I'm glad the comment box comes up right over the spoilers. I'm really trying to avoid them, so thanks for the rest of the review!

Swinebread said...

thanks for separating out the spoilers, I have feeling I'm gonna feel similar to you about the whole thing.

mwb said...

I'm leaning to seeing it, if only because I still have a crush on Karen Allen..

Overdroid said...

You must be a Gusher. ;)

I hated it, and I stand by my faith in George Lucas being able to fuck up any movie.

Dean Wormer said...


I think so. Judging by the Mrs. reaction.


I'm sorry fedoras will be popular again. On the other hand Matt Drudge still wears a fedora and he's an ass. So there's some counter fedora action there.

My boy wore a leather jacket and a fedora to the movie so that was kind of funny/ cool.


Actually the spoilers weren't much of spoilers.


Can't wait to hear what you thought of it.


She's still beautiful.


Droid, droid, droid. What am I going to do with you?

Lucas is a tool. But as I mentioned- the film for me was a bit like growing old itself- a few more pounds, not as sharp as we used to be but glimpses of that same kid right below the surface.

Oh well. Each to there own.

Bradda said...

Glad to see a few good reviews of the film as most I've read have panned it. Sometimes we have to check reality at the door and realize what these movies are at their core and why we enjoyed them so much when we were young.