Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

How do you explain to a kid who is too young to have seen an Indiana Jones movie why it should be excited about a new one? It's easy to find those kids. It's almost how kid is defined. It's been 19 years since "Last Crusade". Feeling old yet?

This wasn't the first attempt at Indiana Jones IV. I know of at least three other attempts. One of which I was personally involved with. OK, so the guy writing it leased office space from an old roommate of mine. I still got to meet the man several times and learn a it about what he was writing.

Like "Last Crusade", "Crystal Skull" is very self referential. Marcus Brody is dead but still manages to help Indy out in some small way. Still others return after a long absence. There are reused lines, familiar scenery, traps, and camera work, and even one of the cities on the map is familiar if only you spoke Jovitos. Heck, they even reference one of the Indiana Jones movies that never got made.

I'll try to sum up the movie without giving away anything of value.

Time has passed. It's 1957 Dr. Jones has been busy. Besides archaeology he also fought in the war and spent time working for some intelligence agencies. The movie begins with a military convoy heading to a military base in the desert where some weapons testing is to be done. Soviets manage to infiltrate the base. This is when we first see the hat followed shortly by The Man in the Hat. The Soviets are after something that Indy helped recover 10 years ago and was handed over to "Top. Men." No, not that. Something else. Something that ties the initial adventure into the rest of the movie.

Indy manages to get away, of course, but in doing so manages to get himself in even bigger trouble, of course. He gets out, gets interrogated, returns to school, and is suspended. Then is chases by KGB agents around the streets of wherever he's supposed to be. This whole first half hour or so just doesn't feel very Indiana Jones. Maybe it's just too 1950s. The heavy blue screening certainly doesn't help.

But soon enough we head for South America and the movie flows a bit better. Only a bit. Everything still seems to come a bit too easy.

Skipping a lot, the movie ends with the message that Shia LaBeouf isn't about to pick up the hat for Indiana Jones V if it comes up.

Now the big question. Will I get this movie on DVD? If this were the only Indiana Jones movie I'd probably say no. It's a lot of fun but I don't see myself watching it over and over. But it is Indiana Jones and my copies of the first three are all on VHS. I'll probably buy the inevitable 4-pack when it comes out.

If you've seen the earlier movies you should definitely go see this one.

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