Finally Watched Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull


#1

and it was much better than I was expecting - Spoilers ahead if there are others who hadn’t watched it yet.

I’d heard bad things about it and there were comments about too much aliens, but I found it to be a great thrill ride and I was really pleasantly surprised.

I loved the bike chase, the Peru rainforest car chase, the swordfight, Marion back!, alot of the dialogue, nods to past movies and it was great fun. Apart from maybe one scene, I reckon my kids can watch the whole thing without getting too scared which is another plus, as a Dad.

Anyway, I wanted to share, because I remember discussion on here about it when it came out in 2008, and it made me avoid it until now.

I am glad I finally watched it.


#2

I suspect, watching it years later with the assumption it’s not going to be great, would lead to a much more enjoyable experience than seeing it opening night 10 years ago and going in with the expectations you might get something as good as Last Crusade.
I have seen it a few times over the years and there are elements I like, many of which you referenced, but man, that opening night I saw it in the theater, I was soooooooooo disappointed.


#3

You could be right. I was prepared to be disappointed, and so it was so much better than I thought.


#4

I never go into movies with preconceived expectations. If I’d gone in to Skyfall with expectations that it was going to be the greatest Bond film ever, I would have been disappointed. I enjoyed Spectre - and Crystal Skull - more than most because I don’t let media hype oversell movies for me.


#5

Personally, I don’t hate Crystal Skull as other do, never have. It actually, very accurately, reflects the serials of the 1950s. Just as the original trilogy aped the serials of the 1930s. I actually don’t mind the aliens ahem interdimensional beings, as it is actually a more plausible explanation than anything from the original 3. There are stupid elements, the nuked fridge, the CGI monkeys, the giant ants, Shia LeBeouf. But there are other things that are really good such as Cate Blanchett’s villain, the setting, the opening at Area 51, using the soviets as villains. Cate Blanchett especially is great. She hams it up with the best of them. Combined with her turn as Hela in Thor: Ragnarock, she plays villains wonderfully. I wouldn’t mind her being a future Bond villain. Spectre, on the other hand, I can’t really defend. Disappointing all around.


#6

I think the genre change was a shock to many. Like if The DaVinci Code became Close Encounters in the last two reels.

A mate of mine loves the film and has no idea of the critical mauling it gets from fans.


#7

I don’t mind the aliens, per se. It’s no more outlandish than the mystical/religious stuff in the first three.

What I’m less crazy about is pretty much everything else, like the extended CGI sequences that are (1) not very well done and (2) undermine the tradition of practical effects in these films (in fairness, this was on display back in “Last Crusade” with the truly awful effects for the German fighter plane sequence). The jungle chase with Mutt and the monkeys is particularly nauseating. Then there’s “Mutt” himself, who’s almost as annoying as the actor who plays him.

And Marion, who I adored in “Raiders”, absolutely grates on me in this film. She has a cutesy, “look at me, I’ve got a part in a movie again!” attitude that takes me right out of the story every time she’s on screen. The bit where she drives the truck (jeep, whatever) onto a treetop that gently lowers them down to the ground makes the parasailing stunt in DAD seem almost palatable, and what makes it exponentially worse is her self-satisfied grin that follows (“See? I’m still a tough old broad! And did I mention, I’m in a movie again!”). In “Raiders,” she was “the girl who got away,” but here she’s “the woman you always knew he’d end up marrying, so what the heck, let’s go ahead with it.” We’re apparently supposed to be rooting for them to finally tie the knot, but there’s such a feeling of resignation to it that it’s just depressing to me. “Indy’s adventuring days are over, folks. Now it’s all about house repairs and lawn care.” To me it feels exactly like the “Bionic Reunion” movies on TV, where we knew the Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman would settle down some day, and we dimly remember a time when they were cute together and we were rooting for them, but now they’re old and “precious” and it’s hard to muster up anything more than awkward discomfort watching their nuptials.

I liked Cate Blanchett, even if she’s a cartoon character here, and John Hurt is always great. Ford remains believable with the physical stuff, which is no small feat, and I will never turn up my nose at a John Williams score. But overall, it’s a very disappointing film and an unfortunate, unneeded tack-on to a (mostly) fine trilogy. I remain torn about the next, announced entry: on the one hand, it could make up for “Skull” but on the other hand, I now believe the odds are very, very much against ever getting Indy right again.


#8

Let’s face it, all of Indy’s villains are cartoonish. The films were never dark material. Marion and Mutt don’t bother me that much. I wish they’d have gotten a better actor to play him than Shia LeBeouf, but it made sense in 2008 when he was at the top of his star power. I think the over-reliance on CGI is really what kills it. George Lucas is absolutely in love with CGI (as evidenced by the Star Wars prequels) and he just can’t help himself. More practical effects would’ve gone a long way in saving this film. That, and remove the fridge scene. I hate the explanation that it was originally a scene cut from the Raiders script. Obviously it was cut for a reason and should’ve stayed cut.


#9

A couple of thoughts;
It’s easy to always blame Lucas for the problems in any Indiana Jones film, but most of the issues with Crystal Skull are Spielberg related, it’s certainly a directors choice to go CGI over practical and Spielberg himself was the biggest pioneer in pushing digital over practical with JP;
also the fridge scene is all on Spielberg; That was actually in the original Back To The Future script not Raiders and was something Spielberg had wanted to use for years.
It was also Spielbergs choice to cast LeBeouf;
Lucas deserves the blame for steering the story away from Darabonts ideas and pushing the alien stuff but the execution issues are all on Spielberg.


#10

Unless I’m mistaken, Darabont’s script also involved aliens.


#11

Darabont’s original script did not have aliens, those only appear in his 3rd and final draft; those were inserted at the insistence of Lucas (and to a lesser extent) Spielberg.
Darabont’s original script had a teenage daughter rather than Mutt and the Nazi’s hiding out in South America as the villains rather than the Russians, it was also set a bit earlier than the later versions.


#12

Now I think of it, why did Karen Allen have such a short film career? Strange, also, that Ronald Lacey appeared in a Play for Today the same year he played the main villian in Raiders.

Speilberg admits that he didn’t like the alien concept either but, as Lucas is his best friend, he gave in.

You would think the pair of them would avoid aliens, given what else these guys are known for.


#13

Star Wars?


#14

And ET and Close Encounters, from Spielberg.

I haven’t seen Crystal Skull in years, but I never had much of a problem with it. The aliens idea actually appealed to me - I found it more accessible than the religious/supernatural elements (and no less outlandish) and it tied in with the `50s Flying Saucer hysteria, which I believe was the point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t a small army of uniformed Soviet soldiers invade Area 51 at the start of the film? I thought that was more outlandish than anything!


#15

Yea, that happens. My problem with Crystal Skull is that rather than just having them be aliens, they make them “interdimensional beings.” Just why?


#16

I like Crystal Skull as well. I went in with the mind set that since Harrison Ford was 65 there’s just no way it can match the films when Ford was in his prime. If it was only half as good as The Last Crusade I would have been satisfied. I think they were able to deliver at around 80%. Sure not as good as the other films but a solid B in my book.


#17

Ford’s age didn’t bother me in Crystal Skull. He still kicked ass in Indy 4 as well as The Force Awakens. However, his age does have me concerned for Indy 5. It’s already been said he will be the main character. Problem is, Indy 5 is set to release in 2020 and Ford will be 78.


#18

As someone who spent the 80s cheering on a 50-something James Bond and an aging Enterprise crew, it feels funny to complain about an actor 's age, but 78 is beyond “pushing it.”

There’s no way it’s going to look right for an almost geriatric Ford to be running, jumping and swinging around like the old days, or even punching out baddies a fraction his age. But what are the alternatives? Hand the action scenes to Mutt? I don’t think he was popular with audiences and doesn’t Shia have a rep now for being a problem to work with? But that’s the trouble with introducing a character like this; you have to either commit to using him or explain why you aren’t. (Maybe he’ll show up as a photo next to Henry Sr.'s on Indy’s mantle: “Too bad about Mutt…”)

So then what? Introduce another new character to shoulder the action burden? Then why call it “Indiana Jones”?

But if they do, I hope they use John Cho as a grown-up “Short Round.” LOL


#19

In Force Awakens, Ford’s scenes were were quite character-driven, while there was a limit to what action he could do anyway in the little screen-time he had.


#20

Touché.