Within 24 hours of its official opening, I caught Indiana Jones and the Kingom of the Crystal Skull. The theater was packed- and for good reason- the first new movie featuring one of the greatest action heroes in almost 20 years.
While I was a bit confused by some of the story points, I liked this movie. It had all the forumla points of a “classic” Indiana Jones movie, with great action and the feel of a real adventure while the Indiana Jones character (and Harrison Ford) were trying to keep up as they got older. That gave this movie depth and homages to previous Indiana Jones movies kept the die-hard saga fans happy.
The fourth cinematic installment of the series sees Jones pulled into helping Russians find mystical crystal skulls. The Russians want the skulls because they contain psychic powers. Jones and other archaeologists want the skulls because they lead the way to the city of gold (which, in the movie, reminded me of the Valley of the Golden Suns from Duck Tales). The Russians have kidnapped a professor friend of Jones, as well as his love interest from Raiders, Marion Ravenwood. The movie really gets going when Indy, the professor, Marion and Indy & Marion’s son escape from the Russians. This leads to the centerpiece car chase, fistfight and attack of creepy animals (in this case, army ants).
Like I mentioned, my problem with this movie was understanding everything behind the crystal skulls. With earlier Indiana Jones, the mythology was much more accessible. The Lost Ark and Holy Grail were understandable. This, you had to pay attention to.
But there was a lot in this movie to like. For the most part, there was action from the beginning of the movie to the end. The action shots and fights were featured in full frame, with long cuts. No quick-cut, super zoom in fight scenes like the Bourne movies.
While he’s aged, the character of Indiana Jones is able to keep up in the new world, but he definitely acknowledges the years (and mileage) behind him. While the end action scene is a bit far-fetched (with the skulls coming to life and all), it’s the culmination of one of Jones’ many adventures. And you get that.
Perhaps the one thing that made this movie believeable as an Indiana Jones movie was the inclusion of Marion. As Indy remarks while they’re holed up in the back of a truck, the problem with all the other women in his life was that they weren’t her. She’s the one female in the saga who’s his equal–I can buy him settling down and having kids with her. Can’t say that for Willie Scott or the Nazi dame (especially considering she’s dead).
Maybe it’s just the fanboy in me, but this was the perfect ending for the saga (nevermind the 90-year-old Indy telling stories to kids in a random New York museum).