Movie Review: Indiana Jones 4

I appreciate the fantasy that comes with movie making. I’m very good at suspending disbelief (it is a big reason why I love Star Wars), and I appreciate seeing the “hero” with no training win a sword fight or gun fight when duty calls.
That said, there were parts of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that even I couldn’t believe.
Fencing fights while straddling two jeeps … swinging Tarzan-style from jungle vines (and into a moving vehicle) … surviving three different drops down a waterfall … surviving an A-bomb blast in a refrigerator (thought that one was pretty cool) … aliens ….
All of this happened in the new Indy film, which felt a lot less like the previous three Indiana Jones installments, which were much more believable … even if they, too, were a little crazy.
But if you can get past the ridiculousness of some of the scenes — and heck, even if you can’t — then it’s possible to appreciate the new Indiana Jones.
All in all, I did … though I was able to look past the flaws.
The new film takes place about 20 years after the third (in the mid 1950s), and we meet a much older Indy as he’s been kidnapped by the Ruskies and taken to the same military storage facility that we saw at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this time to help Cate Blanchett’s villainess find the remains of an alien she believes can lead to superhuman abilities (all in the effort to rule the world, of course).
Indy’s escape is dazzling, as is his introduction, and soon enough, he’s back teaching and he eventually meets a young 50s greaser named Mutt, played by Shia Lebeouf. A cleverly choreographed motorcycle chase later, and the two are on a plane to Peru to “follow the clues”.
Note, I’m skipping over a lot of plot filler here … the movie WAS two-plus hours long …
It’s there where the two find Mutt’s father-figure, a professor who’s gone crazy thanks to the crystal skull (an alien head, if you haven’t figured it out), and a familiar face from the first Indiana Jones film, Marion Ravenwood, played again by Karen Allen (who’s aged to the point where my wife couldn’t get over it … I thought she looked great considering it’s been nearly 30 years since the first).
The last half of the movie is a lot of “Watch Out!” and “Unbelievable!”, mixed in with some CGI and ancient puzzles. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun … it just didn’t have the magic from Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade (I thought Temple of Doom had a silly ending, to be honest).
Despite his vine swinging and fencing, I like Shia’s character, and I have to admit, I’m becoming a fan of his. He was the only thing remotely worthwhile about Transformers, and he was great in Disturbia. And yes, I even remember him from his Even Stevens days.
Like I said, the movie is borderline ridiculous, but it’s a perfect summer movie, and it’s much better than similar movies like The Mummy or National Treasure. I’m not calling it a “must see,” but it’s definitely a “maybe go see.”

My grade: 6.5 out of 10.

Below: Again, we had fun with the movie review for this one in Friday’s Herald. Here’s what Page 1C in the Carolina section looked like (if you got a paper and got one of the copies where the printing was blurred, then I hope you appreciate what we tried to do).


2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Indiana Jones 4

  1. You grade of 6.5 is in line with what we gave to movie.

    Would I tell others not to go see it? NEVER, but I would not encourage it either.

  2. We really enjoyed this latest(last? …. we’ll see!) installment of the Indiana Jones franchise. Will Shia carry the torch forward? Who knows.

    My recollection of the first films was clouded by time, and I hadn’t realized that my children had never seen any of them. In fact, when I took my 13 year old daughter and 10 year old son to another movie some time back, I pointed out the ‘coming soon’ poster, and was surprised to hear both of them exclaim…. ‘Indiana WHO?’ Good grief, I had failed as a parent 🙂

    So, we embarked on an Indiana Jones cram session, watching all three prior films over a week before seeing the new one. And except for perhaps ‘The Last Crusade’, one thing was apparent, they didn’t quite hold up as well as my memory served. They weren’t bad of course, just not quite as slick and edge-of-the-seat entertaining as I recalled. I guess age does that.

    If I had to rate them, from best to worst:

    The Last Crusade
    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    …. and a distant third, The Temple of Doom

    And this wasn’t just my impression, as the kids were distinctly unimpressed with Temple and had to be prodded from falling asleep or otherwise losing interest, but seemed to really enjoy parts of Raiders, and pretty much all of Crusade. They also agreed with your review of Temple being just a bit too silly overall, and I concur.

    But putting the films in perspective chronologically and technologically, the films were probably as good as one can expect, and all-in-all we enjoyed our trip through the way-back machine.

    However, having the recent perspective of watching all three prior films within a week of seeing the new one, my family seemed to agree that the latest film was quite good, absolutely better than Temple and Raiders, and a good challenger for Crusade.

    I agree that some scenes like the jeep swashbuckling and never ending cable/vine swinging was a bit much, but then again the first films were full of similar antics if one recalls. Plus by definition, this “old timey adventure serial” throwback hearkens to all the great “unbelievable” treasure, jungle, and adventure films of the 50’s and 60’s. Hey, at least we had no herky-jerky Vishnu-esque stop motion monsters in these films! 🙂

    Looking past the truly unbelievable, I liked the core story, thought the effects were very good, and found the overall mood to be a reasonable reproduction of that ’10yr old Saturday afternoon feel’ one got watching Jason, Tarzan, or some other film adventurer when he found that subterranean treasure trove guarded by a supernatural foe. If that was the goal, the film succeeded for me. I just wish there had been a bit ‘more’ to the finale. Like many films, it wrapped it all up in a neat bow just a bit too quickly.

    And as I mentioned in my WALL-E feedback, darn them for using modern controls on Shia’s ‘vintage’ Harley Davidson. That was a silly, and for any motorcycle fan glaring, oversight. But we’ll survive 🙂

    So I agree, 6ish stars.

    I recommended it to my friend and his kids, but that was certainly weighted by its lineage. If this film had been on its own, and not part of the Indiana Jones legacy, I probably would have ended up watching it as a rental like National Treasure.


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