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Review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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This isn't so much a review as it is a defense since I feel this film gets trashed enough. Not saying it's bad if you dislike this but I want those who do to consider a few thing as I run through the complaints. I thought about doing reviews of the first three first, but I've got nothing new to add to how great they are so I'm going to leave them be.

So let's begin.

1) The Aliens

A lot of people felt that aliens fell out of place in an Indiana Jones film. Mainly because it's a sci-fi element in a series that has been generally fantasy/mythic in nature. But here's the thing. The original films were set in the 1930's when adventure serials were the popular genre.
CRYSTAL SKULL is set in the 1950's. A time when sci-fi (particularly alien invasion movies) were the popular genre, and this was tipping its hat to those films. That's what the Indiana Jones films have always been. A tribute to fun old B-Movies. Plus I don't think having aliens is as far-fetched as the idea of both God and the Hindu dieties existing at the same time. But it's Indiana Jones. Haters say that it "raped" the series. If anything they should be able to admit it's just not a personal preference, and not an actual detriment to the series.

Plus it was something new. Why should the makers be criticized for trying to present a new idea when so many filmmakers of sequels are criticized for being too similar to earlier installments? When I first saw the plot twist I was unsure how to react as well. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. It was a plot twist that I didn't see coming.

2) It's too Goofy/Ridiculous

It wouldn't bother me so much if people didn't let TEMPLE OF DOOM slide on this one because it was just as goofy and this one. And to an extent so was LAST CRUSADE, but not quite as much.

Why not get nuking the fridge out of the way. You mean to tell me that that was much less realistic than the jumping out of the plane scene in TEMPLE. Indy, Short Round, and Willie jump out of a plane in a life raft while it's inflating, it lands on a snowy mountain (and the raft remains intact and their legs don't shatter) slide down the mountain over a waterfall into rapids, and eventually safely arrive in safe waters. And there's also the mine cart scene where at high speed they do a jump off the rails over a chasm and land safely on the other sides rails. Plus him jumping into the fridge knowing it would protect him from the radiation shows how smart and resourceful Indy is, and I thought the image of him staring down a mushroom cloud was great.

Another scene bashed a lot is a scene where Mutt Williams swings with a group of monkeys that then proceed to attack the Soviets. First off again this series has it roots as a tribute to old film serials. In that case it was a tribute to the old Tarzan ones. And must I recall the scene in LAST CRUSADE where Henry Jones Sr. shoos a group of birds while making clucking noises, and they take down a German plane.

Other scenes people find to be goofy, which are intentionally goofy as all Indy films have comedy in them, were the scenes with the prairie dogs and a certain part of the sword fight scene where Shia gets hit where it hurts. Those are problems, but a lot of slapstick with elephants, as well as a scene with Indy having to grope a pair of a statue's breasts and pushing on them to enter the Thuggee Temple of Doom were all right? And what about the scene where Short Round screams and runs away from a group of female Indian dancers?

It just seems to me that TEMPLE gets a pass for two reasons. One is nostalgia. We grew up on the original three Indiana Jones films when we were young lads and didn't think about over the top/goofy things then. The second is its darker tone. I've noticed that if a film is goofy but still dark it is usually forgiven. (Same thing happened with BATMAN RETURNS and the critical attitude towards the lighter BATMAN FOREVER. But I'll get into that later) But here's the thing. I love both movies, as I love the whole Indiana Jones franchise. And there are goofy things in RAIDERS and CRUSADE like the Nazi monkey, Sallah singing, and some of the Marcus Brody parts in LAST CRUSADE (Particularly the scene where he was kidnapped), and what about having Indy discover his fear of snakes, the use of a whip, get his Harrison Ford scar, and be given the Fedora hat in one day. But I love those silly things as they're part of what makes Indiana Jones so fun to watch. I'm not saying there aren't any serious elements, or that the other movies can't or shouldn't be taken seriously. But I think they find a perfect balance of seriousness and pure fun.

3) Shia Labeouf/Indy Having a Son

I seriously can't understand what the big deal against him is. It seems to be because he has Leonardo DiCaprio syndrome. Where he's actually a good actor but he's so popular and girls don't shut up about him that everyone else hates him for that. A lot of people treat him like he's Taylor Lautner (shudders), Robert Pattinson (shudders even more), and Zac Efron (shudders the most). He's twenty times the actor they are. It seems like people don't like any of the young actors in Hollywood, and Shia is the best from what I've seen because he's got actual talent and range. I think that some people still have him typecasted to the role of Louis Stevens from EVEN STEVENS in their minds. I also think that a lot of people who dislike the TRANSFORMERS films have also been criticizing him for his other movies because of the hate for those. I personally liked the first TRANSFORMERS film but the sequel had too many problems to ignore. Shia is one of the saving graces of those movies. They and EVEN STEVENS shows that he's good at comedy, but if you want to see him do a very good dramatic performance watch the 2005 film THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED. That's the film that made really made me a fan of Labeouf. And I thought he played a good combination of both in this.

Many thought he was annoying and dragged down the film. And I'd buy that if people didn't give a pass to Willie Scott who was also generally considered to be annoying.

I'm sorry, but I'd like to hear a real explanation on what's so bad about Labeouf.

Some people didn't like the very idea of him having a son, but if you do the math it makes sense and as I said fits in with his character arc of CRUADE and this film, as well as giving him a new form of responsibility.

4) Indiana Jones Getting Married

Many feel it was out of character to have Indy get married at the end of the film. That he like James Bond is a womanizer and thus should've been going after a younger woman or something like that. First off there's a bit more depth to Indiana Jones than to James Bond as he actually goes through character arcs in his films. Secondly this series is more aimed at family audiences than the Bond films so parents might think that would look awkward for their kids. Thirdly it fits in line with his arc in LAST CRUSADE where he gained a deeper respect and care for family.

And Charles Stanforth's line early on in the film about Indy, "Being at the age where life stops giving you things and starts taking them away". That's what was so important about him gaining a wife and son. Life was finally giving him something again. Gaining and reconciling with his family was his arc in this film.

Plus he got married to Marion Ravenwood who is universally agreed on as the best Indiana Jones love interest. It was a great character match with fantastic chemistry, and I wouldn't have had it gone any other way.

5) The CGI

That's a personal thing, but I think a lot of people say there was more CG than there actually was. I felt most of it like the ants and the alien were warranted. And people seem to be ignoring scenes that had a lot of good old fashioned stunt work such as Indy's escape from Hangar 51, the motorcycle chase, and the jungle chase.

The only CGI I can think of that was unnecessary was that they could've used trained prairie dogs. I'd have to think about the rest to see if there's any more.

6) No Nazis

It's the Cold War. World War II was over. Our enemy at that time was the Soviet Union, so it was only natural to use them.

Well that is my defense of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. As I said it's not bad if you dislike this film, but this was just meant to offer a new perspective. I feel it is too wrongly criticized for having things that were in the other three films. I think the main problem is that so many of the fans just grew up.

If you recall I mentioned BATMAN RETURNS and BATMAN FOREVER earlier on in the review. My next review will be a defense of BATMAN FOREVER.
Added by JMan616
6 years ago on 27 March 2011 15:16

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