"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the
Directed by Steven Spielberg.
Written by David Koepp.
Starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Shia LeBeouf and Cate
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 5/25/08
I was really, really nervous, for the new
Indy film, given how much I loved "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and
how much I was bracing myself for an action film led by a 65-year-old icon, a
64-year-old producer and a 61-year-old director.
Thankfully, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom
of the Crystal Skull" is happily average. In re-watching the
original trilogy--which strangely is "Temple of Doom", "Raiders" and
then "Last Crusade" in the in-movie chronological order, which I
didn't even realize until I saw them all together--it's easy to rank
"Raiders of the Lost Ark." Perfect
movie, action is great, stunts are great, Harrison Ford as Indy
and Karen Allen as Marion are great, Sallah is great, and even
the Belloq guy is great...if you own the recent (like 2003 or
2004) release of the trilogy with the extras DVD, watch the
making-of for "Raiders." It will remind you why Tom
Selleck might end up being the dumbest guy in movie history, a
guy that turned down lead roles in this film, "Rambo: First
Blood Part II" and "Die Hard."
"Temple of Doom." Agreed--Kate
Capshaw is dogshit and the romantic angle nearly destroys the
film. But, sorry, I have a soft spot for Short Round, the
ripping-the-heart-out scene is still classic, the suspension
bridge action scene (yes, the bridge was real) was great, and
the opening sequence still works for me.
"Last Crusade." The opening 15
minutes of this movie is completely and totally atrocious--trust
me, watch it again. The lead actress here, a woman who is
actually named Alison Doody, is awful (you're right--she went on
to star in..."Major League 2"); the action scenes here are blah
(laugh along with me as Indy and the Doody girl outrun...crazed
Temple Guardians who attempt to chase down tomb intruders with
Sten machine guns), and Sean Connery essentially saves this
movie from total oblivion all by himself. At times, "Last
Crusade" feels like it is actually ripping off the other Indy
movies, even though it's just the third film of the trilogy.
Expanding the Denholm Elliott part (he played Indy's professor
buddy Marcus Brody) was another in a long line of bad ideas,
starting with a scene where young Indy (River Phoenix) actually
likes snakes (uhh, what?) to ending with Indy riding off into
the sunset (a good idea, except he rides off with three other
people, instead of just alone).
The new "Indy" film sits below "Temple of
Doom" to me, but it was better than "Last Crusade." That's
because it's great to see Indy, he's still in halfway decent shape,
the backstory for Indy's years away from the screen is
well-explained, and Shia LaBeouf adds that little extra somethin' as
Indy's newest sidekick.
Meg and I both agree that the new film's
biggest problem is its script, most notably its ending...I rarely
like to discuss a film's ending, but let's be honest--you've got
access to the Inter-Web, so you already know it has something to do
with aliens, and this is a bad idea. Meg said it best--Indy
works best against higher powers, not high-in-the-sky powers.
Area 51, New Mexico, alien tombs and UFOs are not Indy territory,
plain and simple.
Neither are Russians for that matter, so
when Indy drops a line, "Russians...I hate those guys", you can't
help but wish somebody unearthed a plot for Indy to take down rogue
Nazi factions in 1950s Europe instead of power-hungry Russians bent
on understanding alien skull technology. But, I digress.
It's great to see Indy, 20 years older but still just as wily.
Ford's speech is a bit off/slower (some of that stems from my recent
DVD viewings of the old films), but he just feels right for some
reason, the whole old-pair-of-shoes imagery. I liked that he
did some--but clearly, not all--of his running and stuntwork in this
new film, showing us a man who has stayed in good shape over the
Briefly, we must discuss The Ford Run, which
lays out like this:
1977: "Star Wars"
1979: "Apocalypse Now" (a small part,
1980: "The Empire Strikes Back"
1982: "Blade Runner"
1983: "Return of the Jedi"
1984: "Temple of Doom"
Back to the movie...what isn't so good--some
of the action scenes are a bit on the stupidly-ridiculous side,
instead of just plain fun (Shia swinging with the monkeys? A
swordfight between two moving jeeps in the jungle?). Karen
Allen, bless her heart, looks worse for the wear, and I am sure that
the majority of this is that we haven't seen Allen onscreen for
nearly 30 years!! I didn't love the Marion/Indy bickering
mid-film once we get to see her again, either. And, Ray
Winstone, a gifted actor who has been nothing short of brilliant in
movies like "Sexy
"The Proposition", is completely wasted here in a part that is
written poorly and performed similarly.
But then again, there's that incredible
score. And, there's the famous punch sound effect. And,
there's the Indy hat. And, there are some decent special
effects. You even get the comical random Indy knowledge,
complete with Indy whipping out his handy Mayan phrasebook.
There's enough Indy stuff in here to make the movie passable; you
know, there's enough here to make you think (but probably wish
against) the possibility of another Indy flick is there.
Hey, the big thing with the newest Indy
flick--it definitely doesn't suck. And that was enough to make
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard