Friday, May 23, 2008

This just in - Indy mostly rocks hard!

Is it really fair to give "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" a pass on something as key as plot?

Well, it may not be the most professional of standards for reviewing movies, but I say in this case yes, because it delivers just about everything else you're looking for in an Indiana Jones movie in spades.

Besides, in every Indy movie so far, the story has always been delivered with a wink, like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are elbowing you in the ribs as they deliver the spectacle that just keeps getting crazier and crazier in front of your eyes. The only time I wasn't really too in on the joke was with "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," but this time I was laughing right along with them until the last 15 minutes or so, when the flick just falls to pieces.

The easiest way to describe it might just be to tell you what you'll get this time around. The signature set piece, a thrilling jeep chase through the jungles of Peru, is as fun as anything that's come before it in Indy flicks. My office mate Ryan Gilchrest said it lost him when young Shia LaBoeuf went all "George of the Jungle" (you'll see what I mean), but I was laughing so hard at that point (apparently to the annoyance of the young man in front of me) that it didn't really bother me much at all.

And this wouldn't be Indy if there weren't some creepy crawlers to make you squirm in your seats. Though much of the flick has a comfortably familiar feel, the main critters here aren't snakes (but my favorite moment in the entire movie came when one of Indy's dreaded asps came into play.) I really can't tell you what they are this time, but trust me that it will have you cringing and cackling as they attack and devour the evil Russkies.

And the performances here are all-around solid, mostly because everyone was clearly in on the joke. Harrison Ford still has the chops to be a pretty serious bad ass, but he plays it with enough humility that you don't mind that he's really 67 years old (yes, 67 years old!) Mr. LaBoeuf, who I don't always particularly care for, is plenty dorky enough to play "Mutt" (I thought he was saying his name was "mud," but really, aren't they just equally as silly?) And if you don't smile as broadly as Indy when Karen Allen makes her return as Marion Ravenwood, well, why in the world did you come to this movie in the first place? Cate Blanchett vamps it up to the max as evil Russkie Col. Irina Spalko, and John Hurt (who I almost always manage to confuse with Sir Ian McKellen), is equally good as the befuddled Dr. Oxley.

So, what's the problem? As I said, it's not much of one, but I guarantee that when you hear the secret behind the "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" you'll be left scratching your head and saying, quite possibly out loud as I almost did, "nah, really?" Though David Koepp puts his name on the script, I blame George Lucas - who also gets a writing credit - for trying to make us swallow this whopper.

But, like I said, I think any die hard Indy fans will be smiling so broadly at that point that you won't mind being hoodwinked more than a little bit. Given the unbelievable hype I'd say this one almost manages to measure up, and I guess you can't ask for much more than that.

And as for my movie weekend, I'm finally gonna break down and see the little Fox Searchlight drama "Under the Same Moon," which has somehow managed to be playing at one of our Macon multiplexes for at least six weeks or so now and is hanging on for one more. Feel free to check back Sunday for my impression of that one, and have a perfectly pleasant weekend. Peace out.


Ashok said...

I was not impressed initially as the Indy started off but once every one is in South America, it is non-stop action. And for the end, I am still not sure why people think as so much let down. There is always an unknown force in every previous Indy film which does that and here I thought it was more interesting and brought the geeks in Lucas and Spielberg. As I said in my review, the past is the future I believe :-). Overall, I liked it. Here is my review -

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely check it out when I get a chance a little later, Ashok ... As I hope I made clear, even if I thought the ending was just way too far beyond silly, I still loved this movie just about unconditionally

Mercurie said...

Good to hear this Indy movie is worth it. I was so afraid it might turn out to be another Temple of Doom, which would be a big disappointment given how much I've looked forward to it.

Bob said...

I had a blast with this one. If you see my review you'll see we're not that far off in our view of it (which is pretty normal I think). The movie's just a good time.

Also, did you get the "Benjamin Button" trailer prior to the movie too? I had tears in my eyes. From a trailer! That movie's going to be jaw dropping.

Reel Fanatic said...

Being a Fincher flick, I have to say that Benjamin Button is just about the movie I'm most looking forward to for the rest of this entire year, Bob, so I'm very sad that we didn't get the trailer down here in Macon .. Here's hoping that doesn't mean we won't get the flick either!

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

I'm a die hard indy fan but I didn't like this one much at all. At best I'd compare it to Temple but I do love the beginning of Temple.

I had high expectations because of Lucas and Spielberg. I figured that they wouldn't chance ruining a great trilogy unless they have an awesome plot but they didn't.

And yeah the ending is pretty lame.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...

Oh and I so totally agree with the comment criticizing the "George of the Jungle" sequence during that long ass car chase.

We had watched Raiders and my second favorite, Crusade before going to the movie and I think those to flicks do stand the test of time.

However, because they were so great it made Skull look like one of those cheap rip off movies they release at the same time of the real movie to try and trick you at the video store to renting their version thinking it is the REAL version.

Daryl said...

I agree with you Reel - the movie had all the Indy trademarks that we love so much! The ending was slightly cringe worthy but I can almost look pass it because the rest of the movie is so good. I think I will enjoy it even more when I see it the second time around.

Best of all was the nostalgic aspect - my first movie at the cinemas when I was about 7 was Raiders and it scared the living crap out of me - loved it!! I gave Skull a few more brownie points for allowing me to reminisce and feel a little bit of that excitement I felt all those years ago.

Great addition to the Indy series!

P.S. Did anyone else catch the tagline uttered by Indy during the movie's climax? Nice touch.

P.P.S Temple isn't all that bad, is it?

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm probably harder than I should be on "Temple of Doom," Daryl ... I'm fairly sure that if I went back and watched it again with a nostalgic glint I'd probably have a ton of fun with it

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