May 29, 2008
By J.D. Cook
It has been 19 years since we last heard the crack of Indy’s whip, 19 years since he battled Nazis or searched for long lost artifacts. But don’t tell that to Harrison Ford, because his trademark character can still knock you into tomorrow! You would think that a man’s “coolness factor” would go away at 60, but at 65 Ford is still awesome.
Nothing was as sweet as watching the opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It hit on everything I loved about the Indy when I first discovered these movies in my childhood – the whip, the hat, the cocky attitude, and the one word identification of the villains (in the latest case, “Russians”), and – of course – the action. After the opening sequence, I honestly felt that this had the potential of being the best Indiana Jones movie ever. Unfortunately, this was about as good as the film would get, with the subsequent scenes being far from climatic.
This fantastic sequence is quickly followed by several of the most unfocused and dullest scenes in the franchise’s history.
First, an utter farce is portrayed in which Indy is accused of being a communist by military officials in a gratuitous attempt to fan the same old, stale flames of the Hollywood portrayal of McCarthyism. This is a deeper topic for another day, but the fact that our time is so wasted on such preachiness knocks a lot of points off the movie.
Next, you have the overuse of Shia Labuff, who portrays Indiana’s illigetimate son (at first, unbeknowst to either father or son). It’s not that Labuff does a terrible job in the role, but you get the uneasy feeling that we’re being set up for some potential “next generation” sequels, further eroding the integrity of the film (although this is somewhat rebuked in a positive way during the final scene).
Finally, there is the (unfortunately negative) Steven Spielberg effect – pathologies resulting in the underuse of Indy’s whip and his further obsession with aliens, resulting in an absurd plot that knocks the film down some more pegs.
Luckily the film retains just enough of the qualities that made the original 3 films great in the 80s, especially quality acting. Great supporting characters are portrayed by Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, and John Hurt which nicely supplement the masterful leading role of Harrison Ford. This is just enough to salvage a weak script from the Razzy class.
Thanks, Mr. Ford for saving Indy and making him great once again.