Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)

A fourth instalment of the franchise has been in the rumors for many years and even its director Spielberg himself thought he could produce and let the directing wheel to another younger filmmaker. He was thinking that he was in a whole other place as a director since the series began in 1981. Let’s say he couldn’t more right about it.
Once, Steven Spielberg was an inspired young director not taking himself too seriously and he actuallly let the fun, the humor, and the entertainment take more control of his films. It was all for good when you watch Duel, 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jurassic Park. The later was probably the last Steven Spielberg film. With Schindler’s List, Spielberg became Mr. Spielberg and he became this serious filmmaker taking under his wing the whole Second World War flicks genre with Saving Private Ryan and producing the overrated Bands of Brothers miniseries. Something was permanently shut in this director’s mind and serious subjects like Munich and Lincoln were his work. No more playground like the sets of Jaws. With some interesting glimpses here and there with Catch Me If You Can, Artificial Intelligence, and Tintin could not save the strained seriousness of this once amazing director.

With all that said, since it is in the air of the time to bring back 1980’s films and franchises with sequels or remakes, because more bankable than risky projects, the timing was right for Indy’s comeback. Set in the Cold War this time, this is arguably a nice blink of an eye to the fans of the series with obvious links with the precedent films and reprisal of entire scenes. Even cinematographer Janusz Kaminski was trying to imitate Douglas Slocombe’s aesthetics. Does it work? Indeed, the first sight of the classic fedora, the original score of John Williams still gets you into the mood.

But it felt a lot like they were trying to make an Indiana Jones movie more than they were making one. Fans of the series could have do the same without Spielberg, George Lucas, and company. Still, reviews and the public felt it was a poor fourth film and even Shia LaBeouf was not its greatest defender. Saying he lost respect in the director he once admired. One would say the young actor is not shy of provocative declarations but one have to give to Mr. LaBeouf the fact that he says what he thinks and thinks what he says.

It was nice to have Marion (Karen Allen) back but the whole plot with her and Mutt (LaBeouf) is very tacky and so predictable. Once again Spielberg felt into sentimentality and I don’t think it was for the right reasons.
The whole Crystal Skull element is also a recurrence in Speilberg’s obsession and even if it’s one of the many wacky theories of evolution it is still very far from the adventurous archeaologist’s interests. When in Raiders and Last Crusade Indy was chasing religious artifacts here he is looking for things that scientists would never take seriously. Get back into your history books and dig a little deeper into Humanity’s lost treasures. I’m sure Indiana Jones can chase many other lost bits of History. Just look at Robert Langdon and I’m sure you’ll think about something.
Even Cate Blanchett couldn't save this!

Finally, since my expectations were quite low, I was not that much negative about my encounter with the Crystal Skull. Sure it’s no Raiders but I don’t want the same film again and again. It is like Tintin, entertaining but the original is still the better. Sometimes when a classic is a classic it must rest untouched. A trilogy is always better in three films.


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