Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth installment in an already completed trilogy no one asked for. I’m so tired of Hollywood’s habit of doing that. Especially since it was 19 years after the fact. At that time Indy only appeared in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (which Last Crusade put into motion). As I’ve said before, the Indiana Jones trilogy was something I watched when I was a kid. I checked out a DVD box set at the library and enjoyed them a few years before the newest one was released. The first trailer filled me with excitement the second the theme started to play over Indy putting on his fedora.
Then my family and I went to see the movie and let’s just say, I view it the same way I view the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Both are fun to watch and make fun of. Even though the trilogy was done George Lucas brought the idea back into Steven Spielberg’s head. With the idea of a 50’s set B movie about aliens. As if he didn’t learn his lesson, Lucas filled it with all the awkward dialogue and over abundant CGI of the prequels. Along with actors that don’t quite fit the role. Remember when Shia LaBeouf was still a thing? Harrison Ford was also 64 at the time, but that wasn’t a problem for him…
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had no other choice but to set things in the 50’s. Since it was 19 years in real life, it had to be set 19 years after 1938. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens with the Paramount logo turning into a prairie dog hill. This won’t be the last time we see CGI prairie dogs. It’s here in 1957 Nevada that Indiana Jones and his partner Mac are captured by Soviet forces. They wanted to use Nazis again, but the Cold War was unavoidable. It’s what makes this installment feel more like James Bond than any of the others. Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko orders Indy to help them find a corpse involved in the Roswell UFO crash. With the hopes of finding a psychic crystal skull. Cate Blanchett is good at accents, but her performance is a little cartoony.
This movie also bears the distinction of not focusing on a religious artifact. No matter how many TV specials came on at the time claiming it was in some way spiritual. Indy proves that he’s still got it when he narrowly escapes the warehouse (which also holds the Ark). Things go down hill real fast when Indy ends up in a suburban atomic testing range and actually survives by crawling into a lead lined refrigerator. That’s when the term “Nuke the fridge” was born. Indy then faces the loss of his job and runs into a greaser kid named Mutt Williams. You get what you expect from Shia LaBeouf. At least their motorcycle chase is good. In Peru, they find the aforementioned crystal skull. Then get captured by the Soviets and Indy’s traitorous partner.
At camp they find the psychically disturbed Oxley and Marion Ravenwood played again by Karen Allen. Making her the only returning love interest. After a big CGI duck boat chase, Mutt swinging with CGI monkeys, and hordes of CGI fire ants, the group finally makes it to the titular Akator kingdom. Where the crystal skull magnetically attaches itself to a skeleton and transforms into a CGI alien. I’m sorry, I mean “interdimensional.” They don’t fly off to space, but to the space between spaces. To say aliens don’t belong in a series like this would be an understatement. Indy and Marion then get married and Mutt is revealed to be his son. Despite being entertaining, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does just about everything wrong with the once relatively grounded adventure franchise.
Preceded by: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade