Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)

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Overall Rating 61%
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Ranked #280
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Connections: Indiana Jones

In 1957, archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. is called back into action and becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 22, 2008
If you were a fan of the previous three "Indiana Jones" films, there is no reason to believe you won't be a fan of "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have done what they do best - entertain audiences. Spielberg has made it very clear that he only made this film for the fans. It wasn't for the money. It wasn't to see if he still had the ability to tackle this kind of project. Actually, those two reasons probably figured into it somewhere, but he primarily made the film for the fans. And why not? Spielberg has always had a very appreciative relationship with his fans. George Lucas, on the other hand, seems to sometimes go out of his way to give his fans exactly what they don't want. Watching "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", most of the film has the Spielberg touch to it, though you can occasionally see scenes absolutely influenced by George Lucas and his brand of storytelling. When the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this past weekend, it received a standing ovation upon its conclusion. This was probably more for Spielberg and his accomplishment, but it was targeted at the picture. Despite a couple of early negative reviews, the word since Cannes has been overwhelmingly positive. And I am thrilled to say you can toss my hat into that ring. I found "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" better than I ever imagined. It shows some of the greatest actors and some of the greatest technicians everything they can to make the audience smile. It shows that some legends will never die and that, as bad as the buzz might be, always trust Steven Spielberg.

The film opens with a beautiful road sequence which leads some military vehicles to Area 51, where two men are taken, beaten and bloody, from the trunk of one of the autos. One man Mac McHale (Ray Winstone). The other man is Henry Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford), i.e. Indiana Jones. They have been taken to Area 51 by a ruthless Russian (Cate Blanchett) and her underlings to find the location of a crate that Jones helped get to the location many years before. Turns out that the Ruskies are looking for two things: (01) a lost city in the middle of the Amazon; and (02) a crystal skull that will evidently given the Commies enough psychic power to take over the world. After Jones and Mac escape from Area 51, Indiana is thrown into a series of momentous sequences before winding up fired from his teaching position and hunted by the Russians once more. He meets a young man named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who wants Indiana to help him rescue his old professor, Dr. Oxley (John Hurt), one of Indie's old friends. It is also soon discovered that Mutt is the son of Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), Indiana's old fling and near-wife. Did I mention that Indiana is Mutt's father? The rest of the film involves Indiana, Mutt, Marion and Oxley traveling through the jungle and evading Russians to make it to the lost city to discover the true power of the crystal skull. Along the way, they encounter everything from man eating ants to...well...extra-terrestrials. I won't reveal how the film ends, but let's just say it sets up for a fifth and final film.

When you're Steven Spielberg, it's pretty easy to assemble the best of the best for your production, in almost every area. The score from John Williams is one parts homage and one parts expansion, and the music is as soaring and as memorable as ever. The cinematography from Janusz Kaminski is at times absolutely incredible. Spielberg's relationship with Kaminski is evident in each and every film he directs, and this one is no exception. The two understand one another. What Steven Spielberg has done here is deliver a film that pays appreciative tribute to the first three films, but then takes this fourth film down a different road. This film is far more like an old serial than the previous three films and there is so much more of the fantastical here because I think that's what they had to do if they wanted to keep upping the ante and not disappoint fans. For me, I found this film to be more like "Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom" in terms of how big and committed it was to non-stop action. However, I found it to be more like "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in terms of how it doesn't really slam you with this climactic cavalcade at the end. Sure, we get a lot of CGI effects, but we also get the classic Indiana Jones solution - 'run'. If I had one complaint with the film (and it was a small one), I didn't enjoy the sequence with Shia LaBeouf and the trees. I thought that took the film a little too far to the "King Kong" sector. I felt that could have been left out or another route devised to get him to the vehicles on the cliff. You are willing to accept a lot in one of these films, but something that 'out there' is difficult to swallow, even for a die hard fan.

And what a nice treat to see Harrison Ford back doing what he does best. It's been years since we've seen Ford look remotely interested in any role on screen. His eyes are lit up throughout this picture. And, though close to 20-years have past, he hasn't lost a damned thing as Indiana Jones. The comedic timing is still there. The rough and tumble delivery is still there. It was also nice to see Karen Allen back in action, and I love the way her character is introduced in this film, and I especially love Jones' reaction. Shia LaBeouf does a fine job as Mutt Williams and is a nice match to Harrison Ford, and I thought Ray Winstone added a lot of comic relief. Cate Blanchett is just plain nasty as the villainess of the piece, and though she's over-the-top, I think that is exactly what she needed to be for what Spielberg wanted with this picture. And, just because we don't have Sean Connery and Denholm Elliot in the picture, we do get some nice nostalgic remembrances of them, which I thought was less cheesy and more for the fans satisfaction. But, please let me stress that there is far more action in the film than there is acting or dialog; but, that is the case with the other three films as well. This screenplay was written by David Koepp, with Jeff Nathanson and George Lucas adding some tidbits here and there. The script gives each character some really nice scenes and moments, but it's written to give Indiana Jones the last laugh in every scenario.

I love this motion picture. "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" exceeded all of my expectations and just plain entertained the hell out of it. The more and more I think of what Steven Spielberg did - direct such a strong picture with so much pressure and expectation - it only firms my belief that he is the greatest director ever. He is just firing on all cylinders here. I think what makes Spielberg such a phenomenal filmmaker is that he can direct his passion projects like a "Munich" or a "Schindler's List" and then still deliver fan projects like "The Lost World" or "War of the Worlds". He has found the balance between Cecil B. DeMille and John Ford, if you will. Some fans will probably be disappointed with the film because that is how people get when a film has this much anticipation and buzz about it. As a massive fan of the "Indiana Jones" franchise and as someone who has Steven Spielberg as his favorite director, I think "Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was absolutely fantastic and one of my favorite films of the year. I think it is going to be massive at the box office this weekend and I think it's going to start a trend of bringing back even more of these icons from the 1980's. As someone who loved the 1980's, I think that is going to be a wonderful thing. Go see this picture. Spielberg made it for you.

thrasher #1: thrasher - added 05/22/2008, 10:11 PM
I'm glad to see someone else who has my thoughts, I went to the midnight screening, and being the only Indiana Jones movie I've gotten to see in theaters, I was extremely happy I got to see it. 10/10
Nirrad #2: Nirrad - added 05/22/2008, 11:18 PM
Well I certainly don't think it's going to start a trend to bring back the 80's icons and Rocky Balboa already accomplished that 2 years ago. We had Rocky, Die Hard, Rambo, and now this. What is left?
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 05/23/2008, 12:12 AM
Apparently Beverly Hills Cop is right around the corner.
Nirrad #4: Nirrad - added 05/23/2008, 01:23 AM
Pffft. Icon my ass.
grain of sand #5: grain of sand - added 05/23/2008, 01:46 AM
I honestly find more joy in Beverly Hills Cop than in Star Wars and Rocky.. So i would love to see Eddie Murphy come back.. But that's a forum topic.. :)
M√∂rderwolf777 #6: Mörderwolf777 - added 05/23/2008, 02:03 AM
the movie was enjoyable but the plot was a little much. a portal to another dimension and all that is kinda dumb.
its should have been titled "Indiana Jones and Close Encounters of a Third Kind"
grain of sand #7: grain of sand - added 05/23/2008, 02:10 AM
Oh thanks Murderwolf, now none of us even need to see the movie :|
Tristan #8: Tristan - added 05/23/2008, 02:24 AM
Indy dies at the end.
Crispy #9: Crispy - added 05/23/2008, 02:29 AM
Actually, he'd been dead the whole time, through all four movies.
Vash #10: Vash - added 05/25/2008, 12:59 PM
are you actually retarded? you even applaud "the lost world" in this review... i think that movie is unanimously written off as bullshit, just like this one will be very shortly, at least by thinking people, of which there are apparently very few. a 10/10? REALLY? how can you be a diehard fan of the first three movies and actually swallow this as a legitimate entry in the series? the shitty mummy movies are better than this. at best, the screenplay is like a shitty fanfic some dickhead wrote in his dorm room. apparently you've written similar slashfics, so i'm assuming that's why you enjoyed this. saying this compares in ANY way to even The Last Crusade is like saying Live Free Or Die Hard is just as good as Die Hard With A Vengeance. to say nothing of the fact that the very EXISTENCE of the movie is meaningless - especially when the movie only serves to neuter and defang one of the most iconic character in cinematic history. i'm not even that big a fan of the series and i'm still insulted by this movie. this doesn't even compare with the movies that ripped off indiana jones in the first place, i.e national treasure and all that awful tripe. i don't know how you consider yourself a fan of movies if you appreciate and acclaim absolute drivel like this. you can go fuck yourself once again. bye.
Ginose #11: Ginose - added 05/25/2008, 02:27 PM
I actually almost completely agree with Vash. Wish you could have worded it better, though.
I think the only thing that truly sealed this movie as "Crap" to me is the fact that, when I left the movie, I asked myself: If theis wasn't an Indiana Jones movie would ANYONE have liked it.
I merely ask you, fellow cinema fans, to do the same.
The story was terrible, the acting was terrible, the plot was terrible, the jokes were terrible, the dialouge was terrible... I think the only thing I liked about this entire movie was Shia's acting... but I even hated his charecter!
Why, Steven? You and I both loved this series...why did you do this?
3.3/10 and THAT is being fucking generous...
Crispy #12: Crispy - added 05/25/2008, 02:33 PM
Hey now, I liked the Mummy movies
Vash #13: Vash - added 05/25/2008, 07:26 PM
i dont usually waste time picking my words carefully when commenting on everyone's favourite reviewer, but i do agree with you totally. shia elevated every scene he was in by being the only person in the movie - aside from blanchett and winstone - who seemed to give a shit that he was even there. he did amazingly well with what little he had to work with, and yeah, his character was lame to start off. the guy is great. too bad the movie isn't.
bluemeanie #14: bluemeanie - added 05/25/2008, 11:45 PM
You have no sense of nostalgia and no sense of scope when it comes to film. I can say this from reading previous comments on other films and not feel bad about doing so. You missed the point of the entire film. I think you've missed the point of the magic in filmmaking in general. You pretend to be a movie fan, yet you consistently bitch about the things that make movies so memorable.

Terrible? Ill-informed. You obviously know nothing about what makes acting, directing or writing good. Especially in a film like this. You are obviously totally unfamiliar with the old serials on which this entire franchise was based, and on which this film derives most of its energy. For a fan of the first three films to find this film terrible, to me, is just impossible. It means you are obviously just a poser when it comes to the other films.

And I have no desire to further this debate. Feel free to respond with your little smart-ass, holier than thou retort and that will be that. You have no business commenting with such bile when it comes from nowhere logical. Enjoy your sub-par bullshit that you tend to find so refreshing and REAL filmmakers like Steven Spielberg will continue keeping as much of the magic in the movie going experience as possible.

Thank God you tend to be in the minority. If you were the majority, what a sad cinematic state we'd be in.

bluemeanie #15: bluemeanie - added 05/25/2008, 11:49 PM
And, since all of your comments on my reviews involve the words 'idiot' or 'retarded', I figured I would dumb down my response: "What a dumbfuck you are."
Greg Follender #16: Greg Follender - added 05/26/2008, 12:24 AM
Geez... after reading this strand, I'm now DYING to see this film as soon as possible to weigh in!

I must admit I'm not a big fan of Mr. Spielberg and his recent "retro-fitting habit"... nor was I a huge proponent of the last two reiteration films in the series...

STILL... I did LOVE the original entry and anxiously await to see if the old man's still got the chops to deliver the wonder I once thought him capable of (minus the dodgy, politically correct saccharin he's injected into his recent efforts).
I'm going to try super-hard not to be too cynical too... I want to give this movie a fair shake.

Just as long as he doesn't digitally change Indy's whip into a thrown water balloon halfway through the picture for the kiddies, we're off to a good start...
Mr. Mistoffelees #17: Mr. Mistoffelees - added 05/27/2008, 02:21 PM
I think I'm in the middle with this movie. It had the parts of a great Indy movie but in some ways I felt it fell short, mainly by trying to do a lot at once. There were a lot of things going on in each scene, old characters returned while some new characters didn't get enough development (namely Mack and Ox) and the ending kind of turned me off. Overall it was fun and I wouldn't mind watching it again, but it didn't do it for me enough to earn a spectacular rating. 6/10 from me.
Ginose #18: Ginose - added 05/27/2008, 03:54 PM
*Sigh* I pray to whatever God or lack-there-of you worship that that comment was not directed at me.
I've always loved the Indiana Jones films, from a child to today I watch them on a constant basis, nostalgia is never an issue for me, I'm more nostalgic than I'll ever admit to. My love and admiration for the series, however, did n ot save this movie as a stand-alone film... hell, it didn't even save it as a sequal.
It didn't try to kick on the same tone, the same feel or even the same type of quasi-realistic over the top action that the series was known for.
It was like Lucas went out of his way to make the plot as thin as possible while still retaining some sort of reference to the series (such as bringing back classic characters, making a half-assed ((though amusing)) crack about the Ark and having Harrison Ford constantally make references to how old he is... hur hur... it was cute and relevant twice... though it was the only beleivable line from Ford in the entire movie). Has he just become that poor a writer? Because, as stated, the amount of character development here is nill and we're even offered the amazing "twist" about Mutt... who the fuck couldn't guess that!? I guessed it when I heard Shia was going to be in the movie! This felt like a fanfiction... and a so-so one at that... they'd have been better off turning one of those spin-off novels into a movie... hell, even a "Young Indiana Jones" feature would have been prefered over this bastard-film.

I'm sorry, I love the movies and I'm just as nostalgic as the next guy, but this was a weak-ass entry into a classic series. The most you'll get from me is a 4.5... but I'll stick with my mid-way 3 for now.
bluemeanie #19: bluemeanie - added 05/27/2008, 05:41 PM
LOL. No, that was not directed at you. But, it still boggles my mind how a fan of the series can dislike this new film so handily. It's exactly what the other three films were trying to do -- re-capture the mood of an old serial. If anything, this new film succeeded at that far better than the second or third film did. The last word I thought when leaving the theatre was 'weak'. The words 'wow' and 'thank God' were the most common.

But, no, those comments were not directed at you for the mere fact that you can respond to something without the words 'retard' or 'idiot' thrown in.
Ginose #20: Ginose - added 05/27/2008, 10:24 PM
But that was just t he problem, man. It DIDN'T feellike the old ones. The ending being the prime example of this... the last 30 minutes felt like an action-cartoon rather than an action, pulp comic-book which is what, I had always taken, Lucas had originally intended. To make movie hero similar to the comic heroes he knew when he was young. This felt more like... well... to be so blunt it may seem rude, a final cash-in on the loyalties of fans l ike me.
When put on par with the rest of the series, the acting in this film is just dreadful, that may have been a huge thorn in my side. When I saw Ford and Blanchett in the opening scenes I was hoping to God this was some kind of movie inside of a movie and that they were purposely being poor actors. I couldn't keep my jaw from the floor as I watched the movie go on... it was like a train-wreck... a colorful trainwreck and the only victim was one of my all-time favorite movie heroes...
I'm just really hoping this is where it ends... I don't know if I can take it again... I really don't...
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #21: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 06/02/2008, 10:30 PM
I am not a big fan of action/adventure films, nor would I say that I am a big fan of this series; hell, I just watched the original and third entry for the first time last night. (I thought the original was okay but felt that the third was incredible.) Before then, I had recently seen The Temple of Doom by chance and loved it. I never really intended to see any others, but last week I was invited to see The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for free and didn't pass it up. Having an idea of what the series offers, I found this fourth installment to be really fun. The only thing I felt itchy about during the film was Ford's acting; although, Indiana Jones has been through a lot in the past and is in his mid-60s now, so how much can you expect from his personality at this age.

Walking out of the theater at the end of this movie, I heard people grumble over the ending and silly remarks like, "You're telling me that out of all that ammunition fired, not a single bullet hit him?!" I was strongly tempted to slap a couple of people on my way out (that's mainly why I don't enjoy going to theaters). After just getting through Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade, I'm astonished at some of the comments I have come across. Like Billy Ray said, "For a fan of the first three films to find this film terrible, to me, is just impossible." I guess these people need help to recognize what the others offered and see how this film did the same (storywise and actionwise).

Tristan #22: Tristan - added 10/16/2008, 12:06 AM
I grew up on these movies. These and Star Wars were my most watched movies as a kid. And now this? I'm sorry, but what the fuck are they thinking? This was uncomfortably bad. 5 minutes in I felt bad for Lucas, Spielberg and Ford. I just wanted to walk up to them and let them know they said all they needed to say with the first 3. Leave well enough alone, and stop fucking up a classic series of films. The first 3 are classics in my opinion. This? This was a fucking sacrilege. Shia The Beef was terrible - as always - and Ford didn't seem to have any energy or enthusiasm whatsoever. I think South Park said it best - Lucas and Spielberg really did rape Indiana Jones for all it had.

1/10, and that's only because I can't bear to give this a big fat 0.
George Snow #23: George Snow - added 10/16/2008, 01:09 AM
I love all the Indy movies. I went in with high action expectations, and predictable story. That's what I got, and I enjoyed it.

To date myself (but this is pretty cool) The Clash played at Bonds Casino on Broadway. They were suppose to play 8 nights, but by overpacking the place opening night (it was crammed) they ended up having to either cancel the remaining 7 shows or make up extra nights for all the extra tickets sold. They ended up playing 16 shows. On the Sundays they did a matinee and then an evening performance. I went to the matinee and had hours before the evening performance, so I went to the movies to see Raiders of the Lost Ark. That's when there were still huge screens in some theatres.
Chad #24: Chad - added 10/24/2008, 01:21 PM
I'm sort of in the middle here... there were some things that I just couldn't stand about this film, but at the same time, there were some things that I loved. I had no problems with LaBeouf's acting abilities, but I didn't like how the character was handled; we all know that they're setting him up to potentially carry on the series and that this was a bit of a "passing of the torch" affair, but they just didn't make his character look credible enough to shine Jones' shoes, much less pick up the whip and don the hat in his own film. I also didn't like the heavy (and I mean HEAVY) use of CGI - there were more than a couple of scenes that almost looked cartoonish courtesy of Lucas.

Still, these were minor gripes. I'll admit that I groaned and expected the worst when I saw how old Ford looked when the movie began, but that slipped away during the first action sequence. Overall, better than Temple of Doom and not as good as the other two flicks in the series, but still enjoyable. 8/10.
Lucid Dreams #25: Lucid Dreams - added 05/30/2010, 10:10 PM
Well you all know how I love to be the middle man of things and I didn't find this movie to be as horrible as everyone claimed it to be. I will say that there are a few scenes in this movie that made me want to puke, like when one of our heros swings across the jungle with a certain fury animal. 6/10
Andy van Heel #26: Andy van Heel - added 01/23/2012, 11:06 AM
Worst movie ever. I am a big big fan of the previous movies. I loved every one of them and saw them to many time to be considered a cool guy... But this. First of all, he turned my favorite hero of all time (I wanted to bé Indiana Jones. I am 31 right now, and I still want to be him) into a CIA-cop!!!!!!!! That's the wordt kind! Bad storyline, bad everything. Spielberg and Lucas raped my all time hero, they took something from me and can never give it back. Even I feel violated...
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