And. Well. Oh, my.
You almost hate to say anything negative about one of these films, but Jospeh puts it best at Peregrin Pages: this film made me work a little too hard to suspend my disbelief. One of the things I’ve loved about the Indy films (especially Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade) is their sense of the fantastic and epic, the globe-trotting adventure and the extraordinary situations Indy got himself into. Indy running from a band of blow-gun shooting tribesmen, hanging on for dear life under a speeding truck, or walking across a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t stone bridge all seemed so easy to buy into. While those films mightly stretched the laws of physics, they didn't constantly break them. This film had some of those too, like that cool Mayan temple counter-weight contraption and the motorcycle chase scene after Indy and Mutt first meet. And I could even buy some of the more fantastic moments—like the man-eating ants. But there were just too many way over the top moments, in particular those two almost-cartoon moments, one involving a nuclear blast and the other a set of waterfalls. And did that end scene remind anyone else of the final scene in The Mummy Returns?
The film isn’t without its good points, however. It is Indiana Jones, for goodness sake. And maybe it’s the chick-flick lover in me, but I liked seeing and appreciated how things played out for Marion and Indiana—and Indy’s change of tune when it comes to Mutt’s schooling was hilarious. The dialogue between the three of them interspersed throughout the latter part of the film was worth the price of admission in my book.
And then there was the whole theme playing around our desire to know and the value of and dangerous edge in knowledge. You can’t help but think of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and how things played out in the Garden of Eden. A quick Google search for the words like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” “knowledge” and “Eden” yields a slew of reviews and blog posts that mention the connection. Bottom line, this film easily brings into the open spaces the idea that we humans are capable of only so much knowledge—and trying to seize more can actually lead to death as it did in the Garden, which seems less a punishment and more of an awful consequence of trying to take on more than our nature can handle. A fairly good echo of that comes at the end of this film.
So, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is definitely not my favorite of the franchise—that honor still resides with Raiders. Truth be told, I was a little disappointed; admittedly, that could be due to all the hype raising our expectations and because it was mentally competing with the two really good films I'd seen in the week before.
But it was a good ride and I don’t regret going. And that’s always a plus in my book, heh.
For reviews, see Decent Films, Christianity Today (by Jeffrey Overstreet), Hollywood Jesus, and the plethora at Rotten Tomatoes.