Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Total satisfaction. I've just returned from the morning showing of the new Indiana Jones film, and I'm completely thrilled with it. It delivered everything I wanted and didn't disappoint me in any way.

To me a new Indiana Jones film is like a new Star Wars film. That's the level of anticipation I had for it going in. I absolutely adore the first three films, the adventure games, and even the novels that were put out in the mid-90s. Indiana Jones instilled in me a curiosity and passion for ancient civilizations and cultures (despite giving a fantasy spin on such things) which I still have to this day. The notion of ancient ruins and mythology, uncharted areas and lost treasures. It's a large part of the reason I took to the newer Tomb Raider games so well - indeed, watching parts of Crystal Skull I was tingling with anticipation for the Tomb Raider Underworld game, which shares a similar setting and style.

Something I'd consciously done with this film was to avoid absolutely anything to do with the story. I'd seen a couple of trailers - the early teaser one and one before Iron Man a couple of weeks ago, but apart form that I've read and discussed nothing. I wanted to go into a long-awaited film completely fresh, and it really made a difference I think. I knew the majority of the cast and a few of their roles, and... that's it.

It really is a love letter to Indy fans and a big indulgence on the team making the film. There are numerous references to previous films visually, in the script and in the score. George Lucas got a nod to his beloved hot rod racing. Ford is charismatic and fun again, everyone else shines - LeBeouf once again showing me he's got a great presence, and Blanchett is, as ever, a bona-fide goddess. Everyone's clearly having a ton of fun, the way it was with Raiders.

The two hours zip by, yet the story is satisfactorily wrapped up. As always with Indy films there's really no flab. Everything propels the plot to the next piece of action, and the slower moments are filled with atmosphere and necessary details. If I have one single criticism it's that a chase scene goes on a little long, but that's pure nitpicking and moments after it ended I was sitting in rapt attention again.

Now I'm in two minds about Indy. Having seen this there's part of me that wishes we'd had one every five years, or even another one between Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. Clearly there's so much that could have been done with this character in a manner reflecting the serial nature of his inspiration. On the other hand, it feels like the time was right to tell a new story - one very suited to its period - and the wait was worth it.

3 comments:

hydr0x said...

Nice wrap-up. It seems Indiana Jones fits the tastes of us gamers perfectly. See my comments about the movie here

http://janbaart.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/indiana-jones-and-the-kingdom-of-the-crystal-skull/

Ryan said...

So it turned out nice after all then? Well damn, you just about convinced me to go see it. I've basically avoided going partly out of contempt for the cinema experience these days (in fact just this very morning, I had a 'nightmare' about The Dark Knight being ruined by having the sound drowned out by screaming whelps and rapacious popcorn munchers) but mostly for feared of being burned again after a fiasco involving a certain other trilogy...

Swabbleflange said...

It's funny... afterwards I came back, delved into the reviews that had appeared and skimmed over some forum discussions, and while I can kind of appreciate peoples criticisms of the film it absolutely doesn't change the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed it. Instead of going in with those critiques ringing around my head and an attitude of 'convince me', I simply went with the expectation of being entertained. It's a lighthearted, ever so slightly silly adventure movie. I think people might have been expecting something of it that the old films weren't. By that I mean; I think people tend to forget that the first three were pretty daft as well. Not completely goofy, but to me the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail or magical stones are no more or less fantastical than the central mystery of this film.

Naturally people level harsher criticism at the things they really care about, but this is no Phantom Menace. Not by a long, long shot.

Oh, and weekday morning matinees really are the only way to do cinema these days!