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Happy to Have One More: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Published May 22, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Poster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
I went into Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with exactly the right attitude. I didn't want my mind blown. I just wanted another one. That's exactly what Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is. It's another one and it's a perfect other one. I'm so happy to have one more.

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

It has the right sense of fun with traditions. Using the Paramount logo from the '80s was the first right move in honoring the tradition, and they came up with another great mountain gag. The Raiders font is back too. Ooh, spoilers! Key musical cues from John Williams hearken back to the feeling of the first temple in Raiders, even the sound effect of Indy punching is familiar and later in the movie is the perfect snake moment.

As soon as we hear Elvis music, we know when we are. Meeting Indy at this stage, he is adventure worn but still light in the face of death. There are just enough comments on age to justify it, but not going too far with it. Really, why wouldn't we want to revisit Indy at various points in his life? Why would we want him to stay exactly the same forever?

Revisiting the familiar is fun though. Just seeing Indy's house again feels like homecoming. They linger on some of the references a tad too long, but Steven Spielberg is sentimental. That's why we love him. What are we going to do, lament the additional five seconds of screen time devoted to some old business? There's another funny payoff to it afterwards so it comes back around.

The subtle magical science alludes to the world of wonder that Steven Spielberg likes to create. It's based in fact but still looks and feels like magic, without resorting to massive CGI. It probably is CGI, but only used to fit in with this slightly magical real world history.

The old school Indy stunts are fantastic. Spielberg does his dramatic build to lead up to massive payoffs. I like things with moving parts. There are plenty of ancient temples with moving contraptions in this one.

The dialogue is simple. Sometimes it's sappy but it's always fun. They speak in one-liners. Indy seems amused by the '50s world and the sort of adventure cliches he still falls into. That seems like the right perspective at his age. He's got 20 years of backstory he mentions and it all sounds awesome. I really wish they'd done those movies along the way.

It would be really easy to hate on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. You could lament the middle section of the movie that’s all talk about legends, but really they all have those. It's not slow. You could lament that Marion doesn't really have much to do, and they even force her into some action scenes just to keep her along. But would you rather not have Marion Ravenwood back in the movie? Come on. You could compare the jungle chase to the truck chase, the mine carts or the tank chase, but why bother? They gave us another Indy movie!

There are some beautiful, loving shots framing the heroes, and I never pay attention to cinematography. The major set pieces just keep going and going, in true Spielberg fashion, with gleeful payoffs that show he never really grew up.

Again, this is not the adventure to end all adventures. This is another Indy movie in the line of fun adventures. I'm not all that hopeful for Indy and Marion's relationship. It seems to only work when there's peril. I heard relationships based on intense experiences… oh wait. Anyway, Crystal Skull ends with the perfect wink to let you know they know what we were expecting and they didn't just do that. So thank you for making another Indy movie. And now I may kill it at the box office by liking it.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount

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