Monday, 26 May 2008

Film Review: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

In the words of any number of George Lucas’ shitty scripts: I had a bad feeling about this.

Lucas has had twenty years to get this new Indy film right. And he’s failed. Miserably.

The story is lacklustre and the script is disjointed and sloppy. The Russian baddies are so comically inept that it’s impossible to place any emotional investment in the heroes, and Indy himself is left bumbling around in the background spouting exposition for much of the movie, while the spotlight is thrust upon his son Mutt Williams (played by Shia LeBeouf).

John Hurt’s character is utterly unnecessary and should have been chopped to give Karen Allen (chronically underused as Marion Ravenwood) more screen time. Ray Winstone’s character, Mac, begins the film fulfilling the role of Indy’s sidekick, but soon joins up with Cate Blanchett’s band of Russians. After an hour, he reveals himself to be a CIA double-agent, before switching back to Russian sympathiser twenty minutes later. By the end, his character has flip-flopped so often that he’s simply that fat, rubbish actor who advertises crisps.

The set-pieces are poorly constructed and, at times, downright laughable. There’s a scene where Mutt swings through the jungle from vine-to-vine like Tarzan while being followed by an army of CGI monkeys, and a sequence where Indy hides in a refrigerator to survive an atomic bomb that’s been lifted straight from an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.

And all of that is before we get to the fucking aliens.

Yes. Aliens.

The premise is that the Mayans developed their sophisticated civilisation by harnessing alien technology. The film’s titular MacGuffin, it turns out, is the skull of an alien, which the Russians believe holds some psychic power and which Indy is trying to return to the lost city of Akator.

The idea of a super-strong magnetic alien skull isn’t really any sillier than the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy Grail but it would’ve improved matters if the power of this super-strong magnet wasn’t easily nullified by being placed in a canvas bag.

Predictably, Indy returns the skull to Akator with Cate Blanchett in hot pursuit. With the skull back in its rightful place, the aliens somehow come back to life and fly off in their spaceship. They also burn Cate Blanchett because, presumably, even extraterrestrials hate commies.

The wedding scene at the end suggests that they’re going to give Shia LeBeouf the chance to take over the franchise. So don’t be surprised if Mutt Williams And The X-Files Bullshit is in cinemas sometime in the next two years.

Crystal Skull should have seen Indy reclaim his fedora-shaped adventure film crown from the likes of the The Mummy, National Treasure and Tomb Raider, but not even a very short cameo from the guy who plays Blazanov in Deadwood can redeem this truly awful movie. Like the very worst sequels, all it serves to do is diminish and detract from the films that preceded it.

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is worse than Spider-Man 3. Worse than The Matrix Revolutions. Worse than The Godfather Part III. Worse, even, than The Phantom Menace.

In fact, the only conceivable way that George Lucas could’ve made this a bigger heap of shit that he already has would’ve been by adding a long-eared, CGI alien Rastafarian who walks around saying “Meesa like Uncle Indy. Meesa think that teese Russian are very bad.”

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