INDIANA JONES & THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (**1/2) - Starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Jim Broadbent.
Written by David Koepp.
Directed by Steven Spielberg.
From the writer/director team that brought you The Lost World: Jurassic Park!
First, the good. It's good to see Dr. Jones back, with the hat and the whip and the world-hopping. It's good to see Karen Allen back as Marian, even if we're almost halfway through the movie before she shows up. It's good to hear that old John Williams score. There are some cool stunt sequences in this movie, primarily a swordfight by two people standing on moving jeeps. I liked the chemistry between Ford's Dr. Jones and Shia LaBeouf's Mutt Williams, a Brando-emulating 1950's greaser.
It's just so darn silly. They've been kicking around story ideas for a decade, and this is what they come up with? I predict Indiana Jones movies will be like Star Trek movies. With Star Trek, only the even-numbered ones are good. With Indy, I think only the odd-numbered ones will be good.
I enjoyed my time watching it. I cringed when I realized where the third act was going, but if that's the story they're going to tell, fine. I smiled to myself when I realized that Indiana Jones is looking for the same thing Ben Gates looks for in National Treasure 2: a lost city of gold. Needless to say, these two movies end differently.
I didn't like Ray Winstone's Mac character. Not Winstone's fault. I don't think Spielberg, Lucas & Koepp ever settled on what kind of character he was, so he's all over the map. Can't say I liked John Hurt's Oxley character, as he spends most of the movie going bonkers.
Where does it rank in the Indy canon? I'd put it above Temple of Doom, but well below Last Crusade and not in the same league as Raiders. I can see this movie fading quickly in my mind, but I still having some lingering enjoyment I got from it. In a few months, though, I can see myself saying "Yeah, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sucked."