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In 1957, we see Indiana Jones
Surrounded by a band of Russian guards.
Their head Irina Spalko’s fascinated by unknowns
And sure that she is holding all the cards.
Within a desert warehouse, Jones is told to find a box
With strange magnetic properties he’d spied.
He does so but escapes aboard a rocket he unlocks
After Mac, his partner, joins the other side.
He hides inside a fridge from an atomic bombing test
And then is questioned by the FBI.
A motorcycle boy named Mutt then gives Jones a request
And a letter with a riddle he can try.
Mutt’s mother and one Oxley, a professor and a friend,
Were kidnapped and are being held somewhere.
When Jones finds out Peru is where their trail appears to end,
The greaser and the teacher travel there.
They follow Oxley’s notes, which lead them to a crystal skull,
And both are caught, and Spalko is to blame.
The Russians captured Oxley, who is now insane and dull,
And Mutt’s mom Marion (of Raiders fame).
When Spalko gives to Jones a glimpse of what the skull can do,
She has him show her forces where it leads.
When stuck in quicksand, Marion says Mutt is his son too,
The product of his debonair past deeds.
The good guys get out from their bonds and from a truck bed’s walls
And start a long and thrilling jungle chase
Involving fencing, monkeys, ants, and three big waterfalls,
And Jones and friends are first to reach the place.
They run into some natives, but the skull has them adjourn,
And soon they’ve found an ancient room of thrones.
A ring of crystal skeletons awaits the skull’s return,
But Spalko does the deed instead of Jones.
The creatures then reward her with much more than she can take,
And Jones and friends escape while they still can.
A spinning portal opens, and the earth begins to quake,
And Mac regrets his greed when this began.
The aliens retreat into the space between all spaces,
And Jones, Mutt, Ox, and Marion remain.
Both Jones and Marion marry, and the wedded pair embraces.
Now maybe life can finally be mundane?

The first Indiana Jones movie on my list turns out to be the last one released and the one with the most mixed reviews. Many have mocked Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to no end for its absurd contrivances, Shia LaBeouf’s casting as potentially the next Indiana Jones, and that silly scene in which they “nuked the fridge,” which has joined “jumped the shark” as a way to describe the moment when a series or franchise goes too far. Yes, it’s not perfect and not quite on par with its predecessors, but Crystal Skull remains an entertaining return for everyone’s favorite archaeologist.

Let’s not lie: Harrison Ford is old, and his scenes of direct physical combat are a bit unconvincing, but he’s still Indiana Jones and is a good foil for the youthful Mutt Williams, just as Sean Connery was for Ford in The Last Crusade. I thought it noteworthy that, for all his sleeping around, Indiana Jones actually had a son. Just imagine how many kids James Bond may have out there. It was certainly enjoyable to welcome back Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, and most of the other actors fill their roles well, from John Hurt as Harold Oxley to Ray Winstone as Mac and especially Cate Blanchett as Spalko, whom I always think of when I see a similar hairstyle. (Lost alert!) I should also mention that Alan Dale, who played Charles Widmore on my favorite show, has a brief role as a general defending Indy against accusations of treason.

Like the reviews, the plot itself is mixed. It has moments that strain any form of credulity (the fridge scene, Mutt’s Tarzan-style monkey attack) alongside moments of near brilliance (that whole jungle fight/chase is the best part of the movie). I can go from cringing at a creepy graveyard scene to laughing at how the characters somehow stay in the truck going over two waterfalls (they fall out by the third). It hits all the familiar beats that we would expect from an Indiana Jones film, from dangerous booby traps to the requisite creepy crawlies, giant ants in this case. Whatever some may think of it, it’s entertaining without a doubt.

Do I want to see another Indiana Jones film? Maybe. As with most things, it depends what they might do with it. The end of this one seemed like a letdown to my VC, but I suppose it’s a fitting “retirement” for the famous adventurer. Crystal Skull may be the lowest of the Indiana Jones films on my list, but it’s certainly an exciting ride for anyone not in the mood to nitpick.

Best line (mirroring a better one from Raiders of the Lost Ark): (Mutt) “What’s he gonna do now?” (Marion) “I don’t think he plans that far ahead.”

Artistry: 4
Characters/Actors: 6
Entertainment: 9
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 6
Watchability: 9
Other (silly plot points and some minor language and violence): -3
TOTAL: 38 out of 60

Next: #231 – Surrogates

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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