Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Film Review: "Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull"

Release Date: 22nd May 2008
Certificate: 12A
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBoeuf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone

I saw this film around a week ago and had intended to review it sooner so that everything about it would be fresh in my mind. My review may therefore be "quicker" than usual, but the one thing I definitely recall is my overall reaction to the film, and that is what I'll focus on. As a fan of the Indiana Jones franchise, with fond memories of Saturday early evenings as a child in front of the TV with one of the original three entertaining me for two hours or so, I was very much looking forward to the fourth installment of the good doctor's adventures coming out. As I had had with Die Hard 4.0, there was a slight anxiety - what if they totally ruin it? Thankfully, whereas John McClane had definitely been watered down in the fourth of his franchise, Indy remained the same as he ever was, if not even grittier.

A plot synopsis is almost unnecessary, as if I simply say "It's an Indiana Jones film" that should be enough for any fan to work out the plot. It's nineteen years since The Last Crusade with an aging Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones (Ford) still lecturing on ancient history and getting into trouble. With World War Two having been and gone and the Cold War in full swing, we now find Indy grappling with the communists from Soviet Russia rather than German Nazis. Indy is soon approached by greaser Mutt Williams (LaBeouf) and informed of the dissappearance of Harold "Ox" Oxley (John Hurt), an old colleague, after finding a crystal skull in Peru. This sets in motion the latest of Indy's great adventures, and the action barely lets up from there on in.

Harrison Ford not once puts a foot wrong, as excellent as he ever was as Indiana Jones. If anything, the character has improved with age, and Ford's portrayal makes every stunt the older Jones performs believeable enough. Shia LaBeouf is an actor of whom I'm not a fan, but his performance stays far enough away from irritating, and whilst he is never outstanding LaBeouf takes nothing away from the film. Cate Blanchett is fantastic as Irina Spalko, leader of the Soviet agents, putting in a performance that ranges marvellously from comic book villain to power-hungry bitch. Support from Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Karen Allen is also satisfactorily strong. The script is well-written, with witty, pithy dialogue and generally well fleshed-out characters. The action scenes and effects are excellent and feel well-placed.

The main criticism I've heard about this fourth film is that the main premise of the story (which I won't reveal to avoid spoiling the film) is too hard to buy into. I simply cannot see this. If you watch an Indiana Jones film, you go in expecting an action adventure film. There will be fantastical elements and outrageous stunts - that's what the film wants to give you. If you go in with an open mind ready for some great fun then I fail to see how anyone who is a fan of the first three can be disappointed.

Verdict: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is a great success and a worthy addition to the Indy franchise. For pure entertainment value it is difficult to find a film this year that delivers so well. Add to that the sterling performance from Harrison Ford and a solid backup from the supporting cast along with the masterful skills of Steven Spielberg controlling things behind the camera and you've got yourself a brilliant action adventure film. Just great.



ceylincohomes said...

I kind of expected it to be kind of weak. It’s unfortunate that that seems to be the case. I would have liked a great addition to the Indy trilogy, but that is ok. My expectations arent very high for this film.

I also would just like to say that I wouldn’t call Iron Man a “homerun”…It was alright IMO. The suits looked great, and it had some pretty good CG, but overall it was just alright.. Ia Stil watching all Movies Here http://www.80millionmoviesfree.com

James said...

I have to disagree almost completely with that review. Whilst not as bad as POTC3 and Spiderman 3 last year, this was definately a sequel I wish they hadn't made. There was no one thing that made the film bad (though the dialogue and plot came fairly high on my list), it was jsut so disappointing compared to the previous films.

I'd give it a 5 or 6 out of 10 on its own, but 3 for its comparison to the other films.

immedia reaction said...

I really liked it, though I have to say Bambi, I think we're in the minority, most people I've spoken to didn't.

I wouldn't go so far as to call Cate Blanchett excellent, but I thought Harrison Ford and Karen Allen did a good job.


My other half complained that the aliens weren't believable too. But I thought this fitted in perfectly with the era the film was set in... Cold War.. space race, Area 51 etc etc. I said did he really think aliens were less believable than the magic and religion we see in the earlier films... We keep being told the statistical likelihood of us being the only intelligent life out there, given the number of planets in the universe is incredibly small. So why is an ancient race of aliens studying the civilisations of Earth so far-fetched?

Though I did think the crystal skull prop itself looked like it was full of scrunched up clingfilm... and probably was.

TheTelf said...

I'm pretty much with James on this one, though I'm still hoping in my own over-optimistic way to actually do a review at some point.

I thought the cold war stuff was interesting, but it was all forgotten after the first half hour.

Aliens, meh. Fair play to them exploring new territory, but you know what, exploring sometimes means that you go somewhere worse. And in this case I think that's what happened.

It wasn't an awful film by any means, but, quite possibly thanks to nostalgia and age difference, this left me kind of disappointed.

The Big LeBamski said...

I think this one boils down to a combination of nostalgia for the original three and misplaced expectations. I think it's more likely that, rather than this film for some reason which you can't put your finger on not being as good, you are looking at the first three with rose-tinted glasses. They were pretty much the same in terms of acting, script and execution, it's just you first saw them when you were a child.

As for the focus on the Cold War and exploring new territory, I liked the way both were handled. Plus I went into the film with expectations of an entertaining if not particularly intellectually deep film, and that's what I got. The Soviet agents had exactly the same treatment as the Nazis had in the original Indy films, so I'm unconvinced that you can pick holes in this film for that and at the same time stand by the first three.