Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – A Movie Review

The fourth installment of the Indiana Jones mythos was adequate and entertaining, but failed to capture the charisma of earlier films.

I thought something that worked particularly really well was the pairing of Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf.  LaBeouf takes a lot of flak from the internet community, and I’m not sure why.  He’s got a charm about him that complimented and even augmented Ford’s.  I was also glad to see Ford pretty loose in this film.  He’s played a few of my all-time favorite characters, but he can at times come off fairly stiff on the big screen, especially in The Last Crusade.  As with Sean Connery, LaBeouf helps to add another dimension to Indiana Jones that gives Ford a little something more to work with and enriches his performance.

Furthermore, I appreciated that while Indiana Jones is much older in this movie, he’s also much wiser and has a sense of confidence and aptitude about him that really resonated.  Though always a professor, it wasn’t until this film that he really came across as a mentor as well, especially to Mutt Williams, LaBeouf’s character.  (Very funny that both characters named themselves after some aspect of a dog.  Remember, Indiana was the name of Jones’ dog when he was a boy.  Mutt … well, that speaks for itself.)

The dialogue in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull also wasn’t quite as rigid as in previous films.  While I loved The Last Crusade because of Connery, some of Ford’s dialogue really grated on my nerves.  This film had a sense of wit and fun about it that really helped the actors with their delivery.

The addition of communists as Ford’s antagonists seemed totally appropriate.  They acknowledged so much of the time period, from atomic bomb testing to the King, it really felt like a logical progression from where Indiana Jones was last film.  I loved that they peppered some of what he’s been up to over the last few decades into the story as well.  That was a very nice touch.

So while the acting and chemistry between LaBeouf and Ford was a positive, and the dialogue was a bit more organic, and the story had some enjoyable nuggets of times past, there were a few negatives.

First and foremost, it really bothered me how they took Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood, a tough, spunky character from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and basically made her into an ogling space cadet.  Nearly every time they had her on screen she had a goofy grin on her face like she’d been hit on the head too many times.  Marion was a character that was almost tougher than Jones, and they didn’t stick to that blueprint in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  It takes more than a flighty grin to win the heart of Indiana Jones.   

Also, I can appreciate that this is a family film trying to lighten things up for a broader audience, but there were moments in this movie that had me rolling my eyes.  I can handle mainstream appeal, but it had some really blatant lunacy that I couldn’t get past.


For example, Jones escaping a nuclear explosion by climbing into a lead-lined refrigerator and luckily getting blasted clear was a bit hard to swallow, but I managed.  Later, though, they had LaBeouf swinging from tree vines with a troop of simians in the jungle like he was Tarzan.  That … was impossible to overlook.  Finally, the mystery of the crystal skulls is revealed to be a race of inter-dimensional beings that we had previously believed aliens.  Now, I can handle aliens, no big whoop.  But, when it comes to Indiana Jones, I like him chasing down religious artifacts or some other mystic collectibles.  Seeing him face-to-face with an alien, it just didn’t completely work for me.


But even with all those issues, the overall movie was fun to watch and greatly entertained.  I felt like I wouldn’t be “wowed” by it and I wasn’t, but I enjoyed the evolution of the Jones character, his world, and the dynamic of his supporting characters. 

On a side note, I really hope they’ll continue on with the Indiana Jones movies, especially considering Jones’ new role.  I think they’ve left the future wide open for some potentially fun movies.

So while I wouldn’t say you MUST go see this movie in the theatre, it is definitely one to rent and if you’re willing to put up with a little silliness, I think you’ll find yourself entertained.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut – A Movie Review

Believe it or not, this is the first and only version of Blade Runner that I’ve seen.  I understand that there have been many different versions over the years, but this one, The Final Cut, is supposed to be the end-all-be-all.

Supposedly, the director, Ridley Scott, never intended the studio-mandated Harrison Ford narration in the original version.  In this new, definitive release, Scott cuts the narration, adds a few scenes, and cleans up a lot of the special effects.  Reportedly, other than the narration, there isn’t a whole lot different (though I’ve been told the omission of the narration makes the movie far more ambiguous).

I’m sure you already know this, but Blade Runner is about a man named Rick Deckard who is brought out of retirement to hunt a pack of rogue replicants, androids who appear human in every way and are forced to do the labor in space that humans won’t or can’t.  It’s obviously set in the future, 2019 to be exact, and Scott provides a terrifying but realistic take on a world overrun by people, pollution, and commercialism.  Every scene is dark and wet, and the film really suffocates the viewer with its dystopian outlook.

(Spoilers Ahead)

In his hunt, Deckard runs across a replicant played by Sean Young who doesn’t even know she’s a replicant, and he takes a love interest in her.  After a brutal and violent showdown with the last of the rogue replicants eerily played by Rutger Hauer, Deckard must deal with the fact that no replicants are to be left in public, and so what is he to do with Young’s character?

(Major Spoilers Ahead)

I suppose a major argument against The Final Cut is that the omission of the voice over no longer makes it obvious that Deckard is a replicant himself.  Allegedly, at the end of the movie, Edward James Olmos’ character leaves a paper doll unicorn outside of Deckard’s apartment when Deckard returns to run away with Young’s character.  This unicorn, some say, is an obvious clue that Olmos knew Deckard’s memories because Deckard dreamt of a unicorn, thus making him a replicant.

I don’t see it that way.  Olmos left paper dolls everywhere of various animals throughout the entire movie.  I believe Olmos left the paper unicorn outside Deckard’s apartment as a sign his character could have killed Young’s character, but chose to let Deckard try to live a life with her instead.  The unicorn is coincidental in the literal sense, but I believe it figuratively is a metaphor representing Deckard’s dreams now have a chance at reality with the sparing of Young’s character and a chance at love.

(End Major Spoilers)

I was surprised at all the big names in this movie, though I guess, other than Ford, they weren’t very big names at the time.  I found Ford’s acting stiff and difficult to watch, but everyone else did an adequate job.  The real pleasure of this movie came from the sets.  The special effects were impressive in their day, but I’ve never seen such a realistic depiction of a city gone to hell. 

I don’t know if I’d recommend Blade Runner: The Final Cut to the general movie audience, but I think any science fiction fan would really enjoy it on a variety of levels.