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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the worst movie in the franchise… (movie review)

I’ve seen a lot of bad movies. A lot of bad movies. But, there are subtle levels of terrible films. In the case of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it’s certainly the worst movie in the franchise, but it’s hardly one of the worst movies ever. It’s not even the most disappointing movie ever. While it is fair to call it a bad movie, the reasons I hear are usually off base. They usually go something like this:

The fridge! You can’t survive a nuclear blast in a fridge!
I tend to agree with the logic employed in this criticism, but stuff like this happens in Indiana Jones movies all the time. Sure, surviving the plane crash in The Temple of Doom isn’t as ridiculous, but it’s in the same ballpark.

The monkeys and that entire chase seen looks stupid!

I’m not a big fan of this chase scene, but then, I’m not a big fan of the plane crash sequence or the mine cart chase in The Temple of Doom, so… also, the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark features cartoon ghosts.

Just to make sure you didn’t miss that last point: the climax of Raiders of the Lost Ark features cartoon ghosts.

Aliens don’t belong in an Indiana Jones movie!
I know it’s always been something religious in the first three movies, but, again: cartoon ghosts. I keep bringing them up because people seem to be pushing the argument that the aliens are silly, so I just want to drive home the idea that cartoon ghosts are silly. Also, the movie says that the aliens are worshiped as gods, so it’s kinda the same idea.

Shia LaBeouf is terrible and he ruined the movie.
I don’t agree with this argument at all. I think that Sacred Beef is an above average actor who happens to make a lot of stupid movies. (Brendan Fraser, anyone?) His character is decent, but the reveal of Indy as his father is poorly done.

The prairie dogs!
OK, I don’t know what they were thinking when it comes to the prairie dogs. But, they’re just a tiny announce anyway. Let’s assume they are in the movie to appear to children… but seriously, if you let a kid who’s young enough to like the prairie dogs watch any Indiana Jones movie, then you’re going straight to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect two hundred dollars. Just go straight to hell. So yeah, I have no idea why they’re in the movie, but whatever – they’re hardly breaking the movie.

Now, are the fridge, the monkeys, the aliens and the prairie dogs all stupid? Yes. Are they sorta crappier than anything that’s been in previous Indiana Jones movies? I would say that’s not entirely fair, but sure, whatever. Yet none of these things are what killed the movie. The problem with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is there isn’t much drama. You don’t care about the characters (even Indy) because the story and conflicts between the characters just aren’t that interesting.

For example:

Mutt is obviously Indy’s son.
I dunno what it is, but I think we all saw that reveal in the quicksand scene coming a mile away.

Indy is explaining things like a doddering old man – this is not cool.
I appreciate that Indy is an old man at this point, but Indy is the hero of the movie – his name is in the damn title! I appreciate that Indy telling the kid he’s "going to have to get out of the library" to be a good archaeologist, and I get thatexplaining what quicksand is can be cute and provides levity in a somewhat tense moment, but Indy is a bad ass, not a Marx Brother!

Indy helps the Russians

The biggest problem with this movie is that the flick just won’t let the Russians go all the way and be the bad guys. When the Russians kill the troops at the base in the opening scene, it happens off camera. They’re just not scary because the movie won’t let them be, and watching an action movie without an antagonist is boring. You see, the Russians can’t be bad guys in the way the Nazis were in the previous movies because of the way the international film mark works today – you need to be able to sell your blockbuster all over the world, and you can’t do that by saying "Russians are bad" every five minutes. The first Captain America movie sidestepped saying "Germany is bad" by saying "Nazis" or "Hydra" – this movie could have done something similar by saying "Soviets" and just let the bad guys be bad, but they didn’t. And then, Indy helps them. Twice. This kinda invalidates Mac’s entire character, who is helping the Russians follow Indy, but Indy was helping them anyway, so I don’t see the point in any of that.

Mac is a triple agent?!?
Speaking of Mac, even Indy thought this was stupid. What else can you say? "I’m a capitalist." Right, because even Americans are bad! Hope you enjoyed that, international audience!

They set things up, but never pay them off (the FBI thing).
I really thought those two guys were going to show up again, kinda like at the end of Raiders, but NOPE! No apology, no pay off – like the Warden from Shawshank Redemption said, "Up and vanished like a fart in the wind!"
Oh, and the part where Mutt gives Indy his knife and then Indy opens it off camera, makes a face and Mutt says, "Oh shit." Uhm… then what? Then nothing, that’s what!

Ultimately, Mutt and Indy don’t play well against each other.
The fun of Last Crusade is seeing Indy and his Dad together: two similar men who do things in a completely different way, as seen in the clip above. With Mutt and Indy, you get two different men… who do things in a similar way. That’s not contrast – it’s just using a different means to the same end. Kinda like Captain America’s shield vs Thor’s hammer: they’re very different objects, but they’re both for kicking ass and they both boomerang. This movie uses Mutt and Indy in the same way, so there’s almost no conflict between them. The college thing… bleh. Nobody cares about that.

Ultimately, we’re left with an Indiana Jones movie that doesn’t work because it’s not that interesting, not because it has a CGI alien at the climax. It’s not terrible – I can watch it, but Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes up short where it counts: the story. I give it a 6 out of 10; a Steven Spielberg movie starring Harrison Ford is good for something, it’s just not as good as the other Indiana Jones movies.

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About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of CreativeJamie.com and BomberBanter.com

Posted on April 8, 2014, in movie reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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