MONKEY REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

May 23, 2008

Let me be honest upfront: I am, to quote my friend Robert, an Indiana Jones “fanboy.” I walked into Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls very much wanting to like it, and I did, for the most part, and I suspect if you’re a fanboy or a fangirl, you’ll find reason to like it, too. There are, however, plenty of reasons not to like it, which I’ll go more into detail below, but let me sum it up by saying that while the characters and their interactions are the main reason to like this latest Indy adventure, the main reason not to like it is a central quest that becomes less involving as the movie goes on. It’s also hampered by villains that, unlike previous Indy entries, just aren’t very interesting and thus not very threatening, despite them being 50’s style evil Commies and despite the presence of a startlingly gorgeous Cate Blanchett, who simply isn’t given enough to do. And what did I like about it? Well, the characters, as mentioned before (Shia LeBeouf, who first appears in a nod towards Marlon Brando in The Wild One, is especially engaging), most of the action set pieces, including a fun chase through a jungle, and a general genial, lighthearted and ingratiating air about the whole proceedings. And Harrison Ford as Indy, all these years later? Of course he’s good. It’d be too harsh to say Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is the worst of the Indiana Jones movies, but it’s probably the least, in my estimation, anyway. That said, I still managed to have a pretty good time. But then I’m a fanboy, you understand.

MONKEY RATING: THREE MONKEYS

(For a brief explanation of the Monkey Review rating system, click here.)

SOME SPOILERS AHEAD:

Okay, here’s my slightly more detailed explanation of why I think the central quest is the major weak point of the movie.

1. It’s never really clear what the Russians, led by Cate Blanchett, hope to achieve when they arrive at the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. There’s some talk about psychic warfare and such, but how they intend to use the power of the skulls to wage this warfare is pretty vague and never properly explained. It’s also not clear why Blanchett suffers the fate she suffers, as she’s supposedly being given a “gift.” Nice gift!

2. What is the power of the Crystal Skull, anyway? It’s got magnetic power that rises and falls as it serves the plot, and it seems to be able to do Vulcan mind melds, but aside from that, its exact significance and capabilities are too fuzzy. It was at the point where the search for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls became primary to the plot that I disengaged from the movie, at any rate, because the quest for it wasn’t making much sense to me, and still doesn’t. The Crystal Skull did seem to be an excellent ant repellent, however.

3. At the end of every Indy movie previous to this one, you got a sense that the characters learned something from the adventure they’d just gone through. In this one, no one really seems to know what exactly happened, except for one character, who spends most of his screen time seemingly mad as a march hare. Indy himself seems to just shrug it off. Not very satisfying.

So, yeah, there you go. In spite of these major problems, I still had a good time. I just would have had a better time had the script been more carefully thought out, more consistent, and flat out made more sense.

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3 Responses to “MONKEY REVIEW: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls”

  1. John Nelson Says:

    The plot just wasn’t there, was it? We saw it last night, and there were some laughs, mainly for the character Indy as he dealt with his fear of snakes. But what’s with the monkey rating? There were already LOTS of monkeys in this one! I’m a fan, too, and your monkey rating made me wonder if there were monkeys in all the Indy movies.

  2. radiondn Says:

    The friend I saw it with was actually counting the monkeys IN the movie, otherwise he would have given it an even LOWER rating. And I’m not positive about the other two, but there was definitely a monkey in Raiders of the Lost Ark There’s that scene where Indy’s friend catches a date before Indy lets it fall into his mouth, as a monkey is lying dead after eating one: “Bad dates.” Oh, and in Temple of Doom, they eat monkey brains. Last Crusade? Not sure, but maybe in that first scene where a young Indy is being chased through that circus train.

  3. Spruceness Says:

    Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Spruceness!!


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