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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Before I start my review let me say I am a huge Indy fan and have been
waiting for this movie for 19 years.
Bad news first : Number 4 is the weakest of the Indy films. Good news : It is still good entertainment.
Let me explain further :
The Good :
Harrison Ford still IS Indiana Jones. He still has the magic to impersonate this character. You really see his efforts to make this film work. Great camera work and sets. Shia LaBoef is actually quite good and not annoying at all, he has some funny lines and scenes. I never regretted that he was in the movie. Some really good action scenes, esp. in the first half of the movie with believable stunts and not too much CGI, e.g. the motorbike chase or the Warehouse battle. Great! Humor was OK and many jokes worked for me (best : the quicksand scene).
The Bad :
John Hurt as Oxley looked like Dumbledore on Ecstasy. I didn't like his character very much and was glad when he finally became "sane" again. Problem was by then the movie was almost over. Sorry guys, Karen Allen. She was overacting too much, smiling and laughing all the way even during the deadliest action sequences like a soccer mum. We know she is tough and so but it never felt believable. Also her interaction and reunion with Ford seemed a bit forced. The Villains : Blanchet was OK, but not very menacing or intimidating. You never felt she was a threat to Indy. She was always behind him. Russians? Give me Nazis as adversaries any day. Ray Winstons character (forgot the name) was confusing and underdeveloped : "I am on your side, no wait I am a traitor, oh wait I am CIA, never mind I am a traitor again". WTF? Ant scene : Stolen straight from "The Mummy". Shame on you, Spielberg.
The Ugly :
Sorry, but the last third of the film was the pits. The jungle chase was far "over the top" action, I thought Indy and Mutt were human beings, not supermen. They pulled off moves and jumps that even Spiderman couldn't do. Indy not using his gun once. At least he didn't carry a walky-talky instead. Nuclear explosion scene. OMG. How embarrassing, who came up with this idea? What was supposed to be funny only got howls of disbelieve and "Yeah right" from the audience. Indy survives a nuclear explosion in a fridge (!) and then is whirled away miles through the air, exits the fridge and walks off? Was Spielberg on drugs when he filmed this? Who on earth could survive such an explosion? I couldn't believe it! The plot : Not very suspenseful. Parts of it even boring. Aliens? They waited 19 years for this script? I believe almost anything would have been better. At least the Aliens only appear during the last minutes.
All in all a small disappointment but still a watchable Indy movie. I think "less would have been more" in this case. More believable stunts, less CGI and a better script and the movie would have rocked. I blame Spielberg and Lucas. Kudos to Ford. Should have made Indy IV 10 years earlier.
I give it a 5/10 despite all the negative points. First third of the movie 8/10, rest 2/10.
I reached a movie buff conclusion after the 2nd set of Star wars films. It's simply not possible to top an iconic, legendary film or series. The original can't be beat, and is next to impossible to match. Doesn't matter who directs, stars, the effects, etc - can't be done. Being sure of this in advance made the Crystal Skull easier for me to take - but I still have to be critical - because they let us down on the simple stuff. My other movie buff observation is - its ALWAYS the writing first. The STORY. The other stuff flows from that, making the film better or worse. In Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the writing failed us. The story does not hold together well and the dialog rings intermittently false throughout the film. I wanted to love the movie - but I was disappointed. When I heard they were all waiting for the "right" script to make another Indy film - that sounded good. But it appears that wasn't really true. I have to assume they all just decided the timing was "right" and it would be fun to get the old group together to do a flick - because the script was poor. The movie is more like an attempt at what an Idiana Jones adventure SHOULD look like - but with no real substance. A series of Indiana like dangerous situations and exploits strung together loosely with some attempts at humor thrown in. But no clear beginning to end plot. No disaster to avert, no one to rescue. Nothing in particular to root for... The actors seemed a bit uncomfortable to me - even Harrison Ford himself. Indy's love interest from Raiders (Marian) was underutilized and apparently a bit rusty in the acting department. She seemed to be just "thrown in" to add a nostalgic romantic element. The young Mutt character was well cast and did a good job with what he had to work with. The story arc regarding Indys age, his old love and young Mutt is dealt with - but could have been a better, more solid part of a more well written story. I'm glad I saw the film. I enjoyed seeing Indy again, but my hope that I'd be wanting to go again didn't pan out. It's worth only one visit - and that just to see some Indiana JonesLIKE adventures - in a story that doesn't make much sense. Sorry to break bad news to anyone who reads fan reviews - but that's my story and I'm sticking to it. George - you should have fussed over the writing a bit more and Harrison - I'd have waited longer for the right script. This was a weak effort and it didn't need to be. Mr Lucas and Mr Spielberg -you surprised me on this one - and let us all down on the story. Just my opinion :) Scott (an Indy Fan).
I find it very amusing to read all the reviews here. I mostly agree
with all the ones who found it disappointing, I can see why the Michael
Bay-loving GTA-generation could give this a '10', however: Lots of CGI,
fake green-screen action and style over substance.
For me - a die hard Indiana Jones fan, who grown up attending premieres for the first three - this was a big letdown, primarily because of the script, which could have been written by a 11 year-old.
A lot of Indiana Jones fans all over the world are probably scratching their heads these days, wondering why a script (Darabonts) which Spielberg called "the best he has read since Raiders", was scrapped by Lucas. So he could give us this? Tarzan meets X-files?
It just didn't rock my boat, like the first three. I even found 'National Treasure II' more entertaining, than this mess.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sorry, but after reading all this negative comments, I like to give you
my thoughts on this. When I walked out of the movie I was not really
satisfied, because some things bothers me, like the monkey-rope scene
and some other ridiculous and illogical things. But, then I remembered
scenes from the first three movies, like jumping out of a plane with a
rubber boat and then bob run with it down the Himalaya. Or Indy hanging
on top of submarine and then swims with it through half of the ocean
(isn't such a thing going underwater sometimes?). Well, what I want to
say is that in the old Indy films there where tons of ridiculous stunts
and it always was very cartoonish and yes, often cheesy. But as I child
I liked those movies for that. They are just adventures with a lot of
action, mystic and fun, not more.
We have all grown up (with all that logic and reason), and we want the movie to fascinate us again like the first three did as we were a child. The disappointment is programmed. The movie is still an Indiana Jones Movie, it has so many running gags and links to the first three ones, it's truly a tribute to the fans. (Even that Indy starts Mutt to call 'Junior' was a nice one.) Maybe this one is too much of an Indiana Jones movie, because it just delivers elements that can be found in the first three movies too (the car chases, insects, falling down of waterfalls, e.g.) - but what else do we want? Also I didn't think the CGI was too much, I even found it was decent. And yes, this one was made to make money. The first three were also made to make money. Films are supposed to make money - so what? So, maybe just watch the first three again, then relax and just sit back and enjoy this one. It's not supposed to be drop dead serious and realistic. And when I look back, I wasn't bored throughout the whole movie, it was very entertaining. It's maybe just the long time between this and the last one, some things have changed, if we like it or not. But I am thankful that this movie was made.
The only thing I was missing was the whip - it has one scene in the beginning and then Indi uses it never again in this movie. I always liked the whip, because it's not a normal weapon for a hero, and makes Indi a little more special.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There was a trailer beforehand of Kung Fu Panda somethingorother. The
film then started with the Paramount mountain, formed from a gopher
mound, and an unrealistic CG gopher poking it's head out of the mound.
I actually didn't realise this was the film, and still thought I was
watching a Disney trailer. This was my first sign that the film was
going to be a filing cabinet full of soiled underwear.
This complete cowpat of a film is truly a sign of the shifting zeitgeist of what is expected from cinema. At least from Lucas et al.
There was so much wrong with this film, I don't even know where to start. Every scene was a howler.
Story has now been replaced by technical ability with CGI. Character development is now abandoned in favour of a panicked attention-grabbing frenzy of disconnected scenes. Comedy comes from prat-falling CG chipmunks, rather than wit or a character's reaction to a situation (remember the German bad guy and Indy's reaction to the Arab on the windshield of the truck in 'Raiders'? Hilarious!). The bloated chase scene was incomprehensibly ludicrous. Fantastical CGI renderings paved the way for unrealistic feats of human acrobatics that would not have been out of place in the Matrix Reloaded car chase.
Think of the scenes in Raiders where people are actually talking to each other for extended periods: Belloq and Indy in the Marrakesh bar; Indy and Sallah looking at the headpiece in the old man's house; Indy and Marcus talking about the ark with the CIA guys in his University. These are all great scenes. Classic scenes. They divide the action and drama nicely. They set the stage and peg the narrative so you know - without being patronised - what is going on. I didn't have a clue what was happening in Crystal Skull, and just as I was getting my bearings - an alien spaceship took off!!! I whispered to the guy next to me 'Please... make it stop.'.
I really thought that Lucas would have learned a very sore lesson from the reaction to the re-hashed Star Wars movies. We don't want Midichlorians. We don't want CGI. We don't want prat-falling comedy robots and gophers. We want soul, scene, story, character, mis en scene, tension, performance, dialogue, good casting, solid character relationships.
You will not get this from 'Crystal'.
Which scene scared you more: Marion hanging 15 meters off the ground from the statue of Anubis in Raiders, or Marion driving (giggling) off a cliff into a tree (with no guarantee that she wasn't going snap the branches or miss the tree altogether) only to be let down gently into the water by the flexing tree, still giggling?
This film has stretched tension and drama into the ludicrous and that's exactly what it ends up being.
When you come out of the cinema screen, turn around and look at the expressions of the people walking out behind you. I did, and it was a collective 'Has someone just farted?'
High Points: Denholm Elliot's breathtaking performance.
Low Points: Everything else.
Usually, when you go to see an action/adventure movie, especially an
Indiana Jones movie, you're going to suspend your disbelief and just
allow yourself to "get into" the movie. These kinds of movies are
supposed to be mindless escapist fun. Still, one might expect some
small modicum of plausibility or connection to the real world. When it
comes to "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," forget
about suspending disbelief. Just pretend you're in another dimension
altogether. If you do that, you'll have have met one of the two
prerequisites for seeing this movie. (If you don't believe me now, you
will when you see this film and see our hero survive a cataclysmic
event in a fairly cartoonish manner a mere 15 minutes into the film.)
The other prerequisite is that you've seen the other three
movies...religiously. A huge chunk of the entertainment value of this
film comes from nostalgia, in-jokes, and self-parody. It is an
entertaining movie and I had fun and laughed while I was watching it
and the reason for this is because we are either enjoying seeing all of
the same old gags done once again in a bigger and cooler way, or we are
enjoying seeing those gags mocked. Trusty bullwhip? Check. Fedora?
Check. Long car chase with fighting and leaping and what-not? Check.
Dark tombs lit only by torches? Check. Gross creepy crawly critters?
This is what makes the movie entertaining, but is also what prevents it from greatness and what makes me hesitant to call it a true "Indiana Jones" movie. George Lucas (who co-wrote the screenplay) has tried to do here what he did to the "Star Wars" prequels, namely that he thinks that appealing to the fan base with in-jokes, self-parody, and re-hashing the same old stuff can take the place of actually writing a a story that can stand on its own merits. The "Star Wars" prequels failed because Lucas could not get past his constant references to the original trilogy and so instead created fan fiction instead of true prequels. (Well, there was also the fact that Lucas' dialogue SUCKED.) Here, the stunts and action sequences and in-jokes keep us feeling entertained during the course of the film, but when we walk away, we wonder where was the real story.
Indiana Jones is a homage to 1930s serials about treasure hunters. He's out of place in the 1950s. Also out of place are the Soviets(led by Cate Blanchett in a Rosa Kleb-like role). And there are many, many, MANY instances where you will get to wondering just how implausible the next stunt will be. All of that I can put up with, though, and in fact can and do add to the entertainment value of the film. What I could not put up with was the ending, which will remind you not of Indiana Jones but of the ending to another Spielberg movies that pre-dates "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
This movie is lots of fun to watch, but it doesn't take itself seriously and probably shouldn't be part of the Indiana Jones canon.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film is making zillions all over the world so what does it matter that it's just a mediocre attempt to recapture the energy, the youthfulness and the innocence of the previous installments? Love of cinema, that's what made me react the way I did. How can it possibly be that the most powerful people in the film world could agree that this was the script that everyone was waiting for? Shallow, opportunistic, over long, over crowded and implausible in a way the other films weren't regardless of their own implausibilities because one was connected tho the soul of the enterprise. There is no soul here to cling to. It's all by the numbers, odd numbers at that. Karen Allen returns! But look at the clumsiness of her re introduction. I was bitterly disappointed but maybe it's just me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Visually, with Henry Jones Junior (he is rarely called "Indiana" or
"Indy" in this film) swimming in his baggy grandpa pants and shocks of
grey-white hair peeking out under an ever-crisp, rarely-dirty brown
fedora, you really don't get the feeling that you're watching anything
historic--but a few of the old John Williams refrains drive something
primal bubbling to the surface of those of us who grew up idolizing
The reason that the music is the first thing to be examined here, is that it's one of very few things that evoked that sort of reaction in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. A movie fraught with missteps and an obvious misunderstanding of its own audience, it's exactly the type of summer blockbuster developed to make money at all costs: things blow up; there's aliens and Nazis--well, not Nazis so much as Russians with grey shirts and jackboots; an unnecessary youthful sidekick (to bring in the teenagers, you see); and a little something extra borrowed from Bryan Singer's abominable Superman Returns. To ascertain that you know it's a Spielberg picture, the Russians are never subtitled (see also: every Arab in Munich or about 90% of all Germans in any film except Schindler's List); this way, the "evil" characters can be thoroughly and literally dehumanized.
The film oozes 1950s--Russian spies, nuclear testing, a screening of Howdy Doody and Dr. Jones on a sort of academic blacklist all take place in the first ten-or-so minutes of the picture (as doessad to say the high point of the film for mea cameo appearance by Neil Flynn, a friend of Ford's from The Fugitive who is best known for his portrayal of The Janitor on ABC sitcom Scrubs). The filmmakers have discussed at length how, while the earlier Jones films were an attempt to capture the magic of '30s and '40s adventure films with a contemporary feel, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be a '50s-style action romp with some science-fiction sensibility thrown in for good measure (a questionable choice to start, as many of those films eventually ended up as Mystery Science Theater 3000 fodder). In an attempt to capture that feel, you have some campy dialogue, some stock characters and Shia LaBoeuf as Arthur Fonzerelli. There's a fairly generic soda fountain brawl, initiated by LaBoeuf and set to the tune of Shake, Rattle & Roll, which solidly plants this film in its era. This is an interesting artistic choice because in the previous Indy films, even with their date stamps, the adventures that took place were largely relatively timeless.
The other aspect of the film that is bound to turn some heads--it already has, both in pre-screenings and on the Internet as eagle-eyed fans dissected the trailers--is the role that extra-terrestrials play in the picture. As in Spielberg's classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, there is no dialogue, as such, shared between man and his visitors...but their presence is strong and pervasive, particularly in the second half of the film. Using Roswell as a jumping-off point, it is revealed that the good Dr. Jones has been used as a government agent in a variety of capacities since we last caught up with him--he is a Colonel in the Army, apparently, and also has worked with the CIA, MI6 and as a spy against the Russians in the time since Hitler autographed his father's diary for him in the early '40s.
The adventure sequences in the picture are hit-or-miss; while some of the car chases and fight sequences are good, and a lot of the side jokes are on the mark, there are times (Marion is injured while driving, but mysteriously gets better) that it's hard to follow visually what's going on as they try to pack too many characters and subplots into a fast-moving sequence. Many of Harrison Ford's comic moments are on-target, but other diversionssuch a CGI-rendered prairie dogs and LaBoeuf's own private army of monkeysbring to mind some of the more artistically-questionable moments of Return of the Jedi and detract from the seriousness of consequences faced by our protagonists.
Dr. Jones also doesn't get very much solo screen time. Henry himself has also become a little more cautious in his old age, while everyone around him seems to have become more like Indiana Jones. Mutt and Marion are decisive and powerful figures, while Indy often finds himself sitting on the back of a motorcycle or behind them in the car, shouting, "No, don't do that! It's dangerous!" As action heroes go, Indy has been turned into a great family man. In case a CIA agent of dubious allegiances, a kidnapped ex-girlfriend and her tagalong son weren't baggage enough, Indy spends most of the film carting around an octogenarian in a semi-catatonic state, who may be the "key" to finding the Lost City of Gold in the same way that his father was key to the recovery of the Holy Grail.
Ultimately, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a film that, while not entirely bad, is nowhere near worthy of its lofty pedigree. As generic action films go, it may have provided some level of entertainment in the vein of National Treasure....It's the attachment of "Indiana Jones" to the title and the involvement of Harrison Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg that raised expectations and standards to a level that none of those individualseach a shadow of his former selfcan meet any longer. It will doubtlessly open at #1 and secure the kind of critical and financial success that guarantee it a sequel if all involved want to make onethe question, really, is whether or not they should.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't think I will be giving away any of the plot because there
actually is no plot.
I'll start off by saying that the previous three Indiana Jones movies are my favorite movies of all time. When I heard about the fourth one I was excited but thought they should have left it alone because the third one ended the trilogy so perfectly. However, I went to this movie with enthusiam and I really really wanted to like it. Afterwards I figured out that was impossible.
I thought the movie would be cheapened by Shia's character or the fact that Indy's character would be about 20 years older. Those were actually some of the very few things that were actually good about this movie. Shia gave a good performance and I actually liked his character. They also did a good job of transitioning to an older Indiana.
But the movie just got ridiculous. It started alright as he is escaping the Russians which had invaded a warehouse in Area 51. However, once he escaped they threw in a completely pointless scene. Which, and wait til you hear this one, is that Indiana stumbles upon a mock town set up in Nevada to judge the effects of an Atomic Bomb at, of course, the time of the test. So in order to escape, he jumps into a refrigerator, which they point out is lead lined (will that really help), right before the explosion hits. He is then tossed a few miles in this, outside of the blast area. The door stays closed, he isn't injured while being thrown in this thing at all and feels no ill effects of radiation... YUP.
The middle was alright, with some cool chase scenes, decent dialogue, and a cool jungle chase scene with vehicle to vehicle fighting. Indiana did very little of the fighting, and none of it if you exclude hand to hand combat. One of the few bright spots was Shia doing the fighting instead of Indiana.
But everything else was terrible. There was an incredibly boring part where they find the skull. Let me summarize that. They find the ruins it is hidden in. They walk through the ruins. They find the skull. And it only got worse from there.
After the cool chase scene in the Jungle they escape gigantic ants by a really creepy guy holding the skull in front of them. Then they drive the car (which is also a boat... yeah, I know) off a cliff, but their landing (which is of course in a river) is cushioned by a huge tree that they hit and bends them down to place them gently in the water (Seriously). They then fall off 3 massive water falls, the 5 characters, in this car/boat (that has a jagged glass windshield at this point), and land in the car safely the first two times, and then just each in the water safely after the third one (Seriously, Im gonna say that a lot).
Oh! Then they find the entrance to the temple / city thing they are looking for. I couldn't have imagined anything less cool. After simply walking through this they get out the other side to find the city but realize they are being chased by some native people (which aren't explained at all). And how do they survive this, the creepy guy points the skull at them, gee they didn't do this before. Then they get to the middle of the city and break off some things to drain the middle structure of the sand that is in it, then have to quickly run down a circular stair cast that is going away as they run (Which is why Disney should be suing since this was stolen from National Treasure).
OK, at this point you're thinking "well this hasn't been that good, but they've reached the temple, the movie can be saved because here comes the cool part! Here comes the action and the interesting plot that brings it all together." That couldn't be more incorrect.
Here's how I will summarize that part to give it all the credit it deserves. Indiana (and group) walk, yes I said walk (nothing else), through the temple. Creepy guy who doesn't talk carries skull and points it at a door (gee they didn't do the pointing the skull thing before). Indiana holds it up to the door, it opens. Yup, there's your big ACTION / ADVENTURE.
AND THEN... They find a room of 13 ALIENS, made completely OUT OF CRYSTAL, but aren't alive. The Russians walk, take the skull and the woman places it on the NECK OF THE LAST ALIEN. The room then STARTS SPINNING UNCONTROLLABLE. Indiana and his group dive out. The aliens then JOIN TO CREATE ONE LIVE ALIEN and use their mind powers to EVAPORATE THE Russian WOMAN. Then Indiana (and group) run out of the temple. No, no real action unless you consider him begging his friend that has betrayed him twice to come with and not to waste time taking treasure action (he dies, just like the mummy, lawsuit?). After they get out by sitting in a WATER CANNON THAT BLASTS THEM OUT they witness the city TURN INTO A FLYING SAUCER THAT ZIPS AWAY! Yup! It really is that ridiculous. They then play some incredibly lame thing about how the gift was knowledge in writing that is on the same level as Anakin's reasoning for going to the dark side in Star Wars Ep 3. After that Indiana marries, yes marries, Marion (girl from the first one) because Shia's character is really their kid. And then they do another lame transition of how he is going to be the next Indiana Jones by Indy's hat being blown almost into his hands by the wind right before Harrison Ford snatches it and walks out.
All I can really conclude about this movie is that it was just okay. I can forgive the ludicrous plot, the cheesy "family" dynamic of the film, the fact that Harrison Ford is old (which is really nowhere near the worst part of this). I don't even really mind Shia LaBeouf's presence. But many of the stunts and the action scenes are so implausible that it renders all of the action scenes implausible. For example, Shia LaBoeuf sword-fighting (!) spread-eagled on two moving vehicles; a boat going over not one, not two, but three waterfalls with absolutely no one getting a scratch (I mean, what are we watching here, The A-Team?); and the "if the film hasn't jumped the shark yet it certainly has now" moment--Shia LaBoeuf swinging through the jungle a la Tarzan. It was ridiculous. And because these parts are (forgive my overuse of the word) implausible, it highlights the fact that the rest of it doesn't work, either. After seeing a number of old series trying to come back for another run (Rocky Balboa, Rambo, the Star Wars Prequels) I have concluded that when filmmakers attempt to cash in on a once-popular series, artistically the best they can hope for is to break even. Sometimes there really is nowhere to go but down. I wanted to love this, but the most charitable thing I can say is that it was just okay. Very disappointing.
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