Monday, May 26, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I have to admit, I am old enough to have enjoyed the Indiana Jones movies from the very early days. I saw them in the theaters during their initial first run and believe the character Indiana Jones created by Spielberg and Lucas is among the most memorable characters in the history of cinema. Truth is, I loved the first three movies, and while there was minimal let down at times in some of those first three films, it was minimal. Indiana Jones still lived, and the character as a hero was still believable, mainly because the scripts and story line were believable to some extent, even though they dealt with everything from the lost chalice of Christ to the Ark of the Covenant.

I was excited about the release of the new movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Harrison Ford was back with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Harrison Ford was criticized by some for being too old to revive his role. I felt he could carry it off and I wasn’t disappointed in his ability to do just that. New CGI technology and Ford gave the illusion of being able carry off what we see on screen. While some found fault in Harrison Ford’s character that wasn’t what disappointed me.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, for lack of further explanation has a lot to be desired in the area of believability. While the earlier movies are based in large on a type of fantasy adventure, the action that takes place in those movies is believable. In The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull there is so much death defying action that is not believable and for me, that took away from the mystique and likeability of the character Indiana Jones. I personally ended up leaving the theater rather disappointed. While the special effects were top notch, there was still something lacking in the characters and story that seemed to resemble a 1950’s ‘B’ Jungle movie. From numerous escapes, to the incorporation of aliens, there simply was not the cohesiveness in this story that exists in the early efforts.

The story of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is similar to other movies. Indiana Jones, attempts to get a historical artifact before the bad guys, or in this case gal, because said artifact has the potential to destroy the world if it gets into the wrong hands. This journey is a little different because Jones has to come to a realization about family, and make sacrifices along the way that shows that family is something Indiana Jones cares deeply about. Along that journey are exciting motorcycle chases, nuclear explosions and much more.

There are aspects of Indiana Jones I appreciate with some of the above said and more. Jones’ willingness to follow after the things he loves and in the process, take chances for things and people he believes in. Indiana Jones realizes he is not nearly as big and as important as the work he does and the people around him. While he sees value in himself, he ultimately sees a greater value in the history, and the past, which can help people understand more about the future. His love for history leads him to adventure that only a few could imagine.

I also valued that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull portrays Indiana Jones love for family and the potential for the future, not just for his future, but the future of those around him. During the final sequences of the film Spielberg and Lucas even find ways to poke fun at that with the audience. Jones is willing to make a commitment in the end, a commitment long overdue. He realizes others are worthy of the sacrifices. In the process of making sacrifices, Indiana Jones also realizes he can become a better man as a result of showing love for others.

I will admit this was a fun movie, but not a great movie; in fact, it fell far short of the standards established in the earlier Indiana Jones movies. While it is more entertaining than the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean movies, many new fans did not see the Indiana Jones many of us have come to love and appreciate. Hopefully Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will inspire those fans to see the earlier movies. As for me, I could have done without much of the story line and Tarzan styled scenes. It could have been so much better than what we got. While this movie has a higher standard than other movies, it should because of the series it is a part of and the people who have been a part of its history and making.

While I enjoyed this movie, this chapter of Indiana Jones has to be compared to the earlier chapters. If doing that, it simply doesn’t compare and is not nearly as good. It is still good enough to watch, good enough to see in the theater, but I would recommend making sure you pay a matinee price as opposed to a full price for an admission ticket. Otherwise if a fan of the series you will likely be disappointed.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the 4 of us who went to see us, minus the full price admission of $10 each, I give a disappointing score of 6.

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