Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is like meeting an old friend. Spielberg's experienced directorial skills and our nostalgia ensure that the movie is a fun ride. It ranks below Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but thats more a reflection of the enduring quality of those movies rather than an indictment of this one.

The storyline is a little weak in this film. The religious and historical underpinnings of the objects(like the Ark and the Goblet) of the searches in the previous entries infused Indy's search with a certain realism and so the ways he located the objects were interesting and even informative. But the legends of the Crystal Skull and the City of Gold don't quite hold the same appeal here. They are rather unbelievable and even confusing and so the scenes of exposition fall flat.

The movie starts off a little slow. The action sequences(like the one in the hangar) are good but not exceptional. But once the film really gets going, there's no stopping it. Starting with the jeep chase in the jungle, Spielberg hits us with one exhilarating set-piece after another as Indy and his group race to return the Skull to its rightful place. Graphics are employed liberally and conspicuously but considering the direction the story movies in, that's not a big surprise.

The Indiana Jones films were true trendsetters and led to quite a few knock-offs like The Mummy and National Treasure.Though none of these managed to equal the originals, they are more recent. So it is rather unfortunate - maybe even unfair- that a few sequences in Indiana 4 give us a sense of deja vu. We can't help but think of those beetles in The Mummy when we see the acts of the red ants here. And the City of Gold was pretty much the central theme of National Treasure 2.

14 Comments:

At 9:17 AM, Blogger na_an said...

The graphics really spoiled the film. The movie was not that enjoyable in my opinion. I think my expectations were higher based on the previous Indiana Jones.

 
At 6:13 AM, Blogger skanda said...

i enjoyed the movie throught but think there is no repeat value at all. i was disapointed with the story as there never seems to be any new spin to these kind of films.. i thought the communist angle might point it to a different direction but it was never dwelt upon latter...some of the scenes also remind me of James Bond and a bit of Tarzan also

 
At 12:56 AM, Blogger KayKay said...

My own thoughts on the flick can be read here: http://tomesflicks.blogspot.com/2008/05/recently-at-cinemasindiana-jones-and.html
Brevity is not my strong suit, so readonly when you have the time to spare:-)

On the whole it's enjoyable and yet...there's something missing in the stew in spite of the same chefs and ingredients that went towards making it.
Perhaps it's the irony of the time we live in. Indy 4 seems to want to up the ante to appease modern audiences weaned on the thrills of Tomb Raider, The Mummy flicks and National Treasure, when these franchises would not have been green lighted were it not for the phenomenal success of Indiana Jones 1-3.

 
At 8:28 AM, Anonymous APALA said...

I loved all the Indy movies – even the one, which is offensive to Indians – “The Temple of Doom” – and went in to see this with great expectations. I would say I am not disappointed but at the same time I did not feel fulfilled either! Like you mentioned, all those Indy-inspired movies came to mind watching few sequences – even at one scene I remembered MGR (told my wife too!), I bet you can tell which was that “swinging” action scene!!! – and for better or worse E.T.’s shadow was glooming over towards the end! I did not like the way they finished off the movie in Amazon. Spielberg had so many options but why he chose this plot-setting is something ONLY he can say!
It was fun till it lasted but there was no sequence worth remembering and discussing! I am not going to watch all my other Indy movies again and MAKE MYELF BELIVE THAT INDY ENDED HIS EXPLORATION WITH “THE LAST SUPPER”!

 
At 8:30 AM, Anonymous APALA said...

Sorry the last sentence should read like this:
I AM GOING to watch all my other Indy movies again and MAKE MYELF BELIVE THAT INDY ENDED HIS EXPLORATION WITH “THE LAST SUPPER”!

 
At 9:02 AM, Blogger Vidya said...

Indy was okay. The graphics I thought was good.. But the movie was way too long and did not keep the audience at the edge of their seats .

 
At 1:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The latest instalment of Indy (I bet there will be another one) left an after taste one experiences after a nice cuppa cappuccino - nice and uplifting but a faint bitter/sour aftertaste.

The quips, sarcasm, wits and bravura of Indy to a certain extent was enough to carry the movie but some how the closing parts kinda took a little long to tie up the loose ends and makes you wanna get up & stretch your legs.

So, despite the long gap of 19 years, Indy is still full of swashbuckling swagger but I think one of the major objectives was for Indy to pass the torch ... recall last wedding scene, with the hat - he is not quite ready for the hand-over yet!

For those who felt 2 hrs 5 mins was long - well we waited 19 years...

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous arun said...

Balaji,

Sorry about going off topic, but I was wondering if you would post your thoughts on the IPL.

Thanks.

 
At 7:40 PM, Blogger Arun said...

Spot on Balaji, I felt the same after I watched it this weekend. The plot does not command the awe or mystery that the other quest searches did. In the previous entries, connection to historical figures like Hitler and religious items like the holy grail was fascinating as it is ingrained in our consciousness and we connect more to it. Crystal Skull, what do we care? But the movie does hold our attention throughout except the jail sequence.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

na_an, wouldn't say it was not enjoyable. but didn't meet the expectations though they were probably way too high because of the quality of the prev films :)

skanda, yeah definitely no repeat value :)

kaykay, yeah berardinelli said it perfectly when he said everything's there but the magic's somehow missing. and yeah defly irony :)

apala, agree with everything u've said, esp. the last line about "fun till it lasted but no sequence worth remembering" :)

vidya, "did not keep audience at edge of seat" - that was where it differed most from the prev films :)

anon, maybe disappointing aftertaste. wasnt bitter or sour :)

arun, havent been following it with much interest. so not much to say :)

arun, yeah the historical/religious connection added a lot to the plot and got us involved in the prev films. that was sorely missed here :)

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger utbtkids said...

FINALLY watched it.
Felt just the way I felt after watching all of the Indy series - 'has to grow on me'.

But, I am done with Ford. A new Indy, may be Ralph Fiennes, would be good.

 
At 6:02 AM, Blogger utbtkids said...

FINALLY watched it.
Felt just the way I felt after watching all of the Indy series - 'has to grow on me'.

But, I am done with Ford. A new Indy, may be Ralph Fiennes, would be good.

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Watched it. Was pretty much unbelievable but very entertaining.. Had average expectations and the movie surpassed :)

 
At 12:10 AM, Blogger Bart said...

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