Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: A Review

Dr Jones is back! New adventure. New artifact. New villains. But the same old men. Yes, men! Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas!! And, of course, this movie we would see something different - the artifact is not Christ related. Well, Temple of Doom is also NOT Christ related, you may say; but let me tell you - it is very different! Further mentioning of it would become spoilers. Also, introducing the Transformers' fame Shia LeBouf, and Cate Blanchett (LOTR, Babel, Elizabeth) as the villain! Huh!?

The story was set in 1957, way after WWII, but in the midst of Cold War. Stalin was of course mentioned in this movie, and this strange "Ukrainian" woman named Irina Spalko (Blanchett) was hired by Stalin to research and attempt to harness psychic powers in order to control the world. In the beginning, they captured Indiana Jones (Ford, of course!) to help them find some sort of mummified body - hoping to get some mind juice out of it for telepathic research I guess... ugh! He escaped. In the later part of the story, Jones was called by this rough teenager Mutt Williams (LeBouf) to save his mom (Karen Allen) and Professor 'Ox' Oxley (John Hurt) from the same person who captured him - Spalko. In the process, Jones and Williams teamed up to solve s clue left by Ox, a clue that led them to the lost Crystal Skull - a treasure known to point to a lost city built of gold and wanted badly by Spalko. But Spalko - crazy for psychic powers - could not have wanted gold? Or could she? Or was she looking for something more? Something that might lie behind the skull itself?

If you have not watched the past movies, you may just wonder who this Marion Ravenwood was, and maybe you'd find it strange when people laughed at scenes such as Jones saving his hat or Jones landing on an enemy truck. And maybe strange to find the old-fashioned method of tracing on a map with red lines and dots whenever Jones traveled on a plane. These scenes are common across all the 4 movies! And Ravenwood was part of the first movie!

And, as usual, Dr Jones cannot die one! Innumerable gunshots were fired on him, but always missed him and left him unscathed. He was left just a few miles from ground zero for atomic bomb test, and a few seconds to escape, yet he survived the deadly furnace of atomic blast (how ah? how ah? Duh... save it, I'm not gonna spoil the fun here!). He and his team fell of three waterfalls, and yet suffered no harm other than getting themselves wet and slightly traumatized (especially Ravenwood).

And not mentioning romance at its fullest! Enough said here.

And, Shia LeBouf - he simply made me recall Jonathan Ke Quan (Ke Huy Quan) and the late River Phoenix. They just simply want a youngster in almost every movie. Anyway, he did have a significant role here, far more significant than Quan.

One amazing thing was (I would rather say, a deliberate goof), a magnetic object was less effective in its magnetic effect when it was covered. Why? It was very clear that the crystal skull was highly magnetic, yet when it was covered, its magnetic effect was not as strong as when it was exposed. Also, about magnetic effects, it seemed to be selectively attracting metals like guns and weapons and only at certain times. It did attract for sure gunpowders and shotgun bullets. It would never attract metal cars. Something that really, really caused me to reduce my rating of the movie due to its fakeness.

I think George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had lost their creativity. Several ideas actually appeared as they were borrowed from other movies. I am not going to mention any here, because I received feedback that the list was enough to spoil the movie, even though it is just the tip of the spoiler iceberg.

Hey, they accidentally exposed the lost Ark of the Covenant (the one in the first movie) during the first fight-and-escape scene! I thought that it might have a slight significance in the movie, until I remembered the title of the movie. Ha!!

Nevertheless, Indiana Jones movies always came with comedic scenes, and Skull is no exception. The trailer had spoilt some. Others include Mutt spreading his legs across two parallelly-running vehicles and having occasional plant from underneath hitting on his private; Mutt initiated a gang fight, making it a diversion for the escape; and, I must say, the Indy hat scenes. :-)

Okay, okay. Too much of a non-spoiler. I would give an eight out of ten. Erm... slightly more than eight. Won't mind watching it again.


Gnu said...

Can the old Ford still rev it up??
Cut down on lots of movies since I am here.

David Chan said...

I think he's grown too much sideways... :-)