Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I was feeling kind of down as I went in to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull but that situation could not persist. Every scene challenges your mind with something even more ludicrous: whether it is non-sensical plot points, egregious physics, or absurdly over-the-top scenarios. It is no exaggeration to call the plot incoherent and trivial, and most of the acting wooden. Indiana’s James Deanish young foil is particularly flat and uninteresting. This is no thinking man’s film; nor is it one for the DVD library.

That being said, the film does a good job of redeeming itself as a piece of entertainment. It may feel like an awkward, alien-obsessed re-imagining of the original trilogy, but there is still some humour and charm. The main appeal of the film is that it provides you with ample fodder for internal joking criticism, as well as plenty of mindless sequences in which to mull it over.

One side note on the graphics: for some reason, the set design, lighting, and computer graphics were all strongly reminiscent of the Harry Potter films. Both the indoor sequences and the outdoor shots had the same distinctive feeling, less cartoonish than untextured early computer graphics, but still inescapably false.

[Update: 12:53am] Emily has also written a review.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

10 thoughts on “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  1. The original Indiana Jones: Otto Rahn and the temple of doom

    As Indiana Jones returns to our screens, John Preston looks at the Nazi archaeologist who inspired Spielberg’s hero, and finds a story more bizarre than anything the director could have dreamt of

    Very little is certain in the short life of Otto Rahn. But one of the few things one can with any confidence say about him is that he looked nothing like Harrison Ford. Yet Rahn, small and weasel-faced, with a hesitant, toothy smile and hair like a neatly contoured oil slick, undoubtedly served as inspiration for Ford’s most famous role, Indiana Jones.


    Simply put, lets say I am a big Indiana Jones fan. This is my official ranking of the Indiana Jones series

    1) Raider of the Lost Ark (Escapist Perfection)
    2) Last Crusade (Connery and Ford carry the movie)
    3) Temple of Doom (Too much in one place)
    4) Crystal Skull

    There were a few things I knew going into this film.

    a) Its a Spielberg Film. He loves Special Effects. He loves loves loves action.
    b) Its 2008. The patience the general public has in a movie theatre is limited. Therefore, action, action, action
    c) He has an obsession with extra-terrestrial life
    d) Ford is old. Face it.

    Alright so here goes, my review, with these things in mind.


    It starts well enough. Clever homages to the original series. I liked the subtle moment where a painting of Marcus Brady is seen in the University, before Sean Connery is shoved into the face of the audience members that missed the boat.

    I also loved the clever cameo, of the Ark of the Covenant. The nuclear blast….well I know what they were going for, establishing the Cold War scare and all, but rrrreeallllyyy…

    Spielberg should’ve have just made the Nazi’s the bad guy again. That’s never stopped him before.

    Indy’s Son, played by Shia Labeouf, was alright. The kid is going to be a big actor. Essentially, this movie has too much talent in the same stew, mixed, and hoped it would work. Oh Boy! Let’s cast Jim Broadbent as the authority figure! That’s Fresh!

    I agree that Ford looked bored at times. Essentially, I have a little theory. During the Star Wars and early Indiana Jones movies he did as many stunts as he could. He really fit the part. His leather jacket was dirty. His face was muddy and sweaty. You believed it. In this film, he looked like an old man, with make up on to make him look dirty.

    Age is age. You can’t fault that. But for a movie almost 20 years in the waiting, at least try on all your lines.

    For the most part, what I didn’t like most about his character, was the fact that he knew EVERYTHING. Even in the first three, he relied on his friends, his father, even his enemy (Balloq) to obtain information. And he wasn’t always right…..but in this movie, he simply knew EVERYTHING, at every moment. YES! I can translate that immediately. Bam! Essentially, part of the humour of the first ones was the fact that he was often wrong, but got lucky.

    And sometimes he was just not heroic….when he shoots the guy who challenges him in Raiders (he improvised that because he was suffering from diarhhea that day, and didnt feel like doing the fight. The director kept it)

    However, it is not the actors or the director that let this film down. It is believe it or not, the action.

    Now before you take me down, allow me to expand.

    I’d like to make a comparison to the James Bond Series. “Die Another Day” represented the series low. Bond was no longer an agent, he was a super hero. Surfing off a giant glacier, it was nuts. With the brilliant “Casino Royale” the producers elected to go back to real action. The limited Special Effects to a bare minimum, and it was rewarding for the audience. Truly rewarding. Because a lot of work went into planning those action pieces. It was not just put together in a computer lab.

    The action in the previous Indiana Jones was well chereographed stunt work, coupled with the limited special effects of the time. But they were rewarding, well executed sequences.

    They were not, alien spaceships destroying an ancient city, (I thought Indy was about artifact preservation) a nuclear blast and a ride in a refridgerator, Shia Labeouf swinging with the monkees?!?! Commie Cate Blanchett having her…..”mind blown with….knowledge…”

    Ugghhh…. I know that this is all about escapism. And I’m fine with it. After all, I’m a huge Bond and Indiana Jones Fan.

    Essentially, I think the solution to this film would be the true homage to the old films….realistic action sequences, set in an escapist world

    A perfect example is the chase through the jungle in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as Indiana battles with Nazi’s in trucks. Hell! Indy even gets shot. Or the train/boat sequence at the beginning of the Last Crusade.

    I think the actors would’ve cared more if they were part of actions pieces. Not just blue screen work.

    I would’ve cared more too.


  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
    Reviews on Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics

    “Indy’s refrigerator is thrown in the air and propelled at high speed (faster than a carload of bad guys attempting to race away from the blast) hundreds of yards down range. Certainly the accelerations* experienced during the refrigerator’s impact would have been severe if not fatal. However, the acceleration from the impulse required to throw the refrigerator such distances would have likely been even worse. When the refrigerator accelerated on either its takeoff or landing, Indy would have impacted against its metal walls with bone-breaking, blood-vessel-rupturing forces similar to those he would have encountered if he had been throw through the air and landed on the ground without being inside the refrigerator. Instead of ending up as a bloody mess with ruptured internal organs, Indy opens the refrigerator door, brushes himself off, and walks away.

    In one scene the ants overwhelm the hapless Russian officer Dovchenko (Igor Jijikine) and transport his entire corpse to their ant pile. We’re left pondering how they did it. Did they attach little ropes to the corpse and pull it along like tens of thousands of little slaves dragging a gigantic stone up to the top of a pyramid? Did tens of thousands of them scoot their little bodies under the corpse and lift it off the ground as they marched in unison toward the ant castle? Who knows, but the event could be categorized as miraculous.

    We’re left with all kinds of questions. For starters, why did the stolen alien remains from the beginning of the movie play no role in the film other than triggering the opening chase scene. After all, the alien corpse had a crystal skull in it and was “magnetic” just like the one returned to the temple. Was it somehow broken in the crash? Did it lose its powers? Do the 13 aliens not care about it? What caused all the boulders to swirl around levitated off the ground? If it were tornado-like winds or even some mysterious alien force, how could Indy stand at the edge of it watching and not be sucked in or at least smacked in the head by a chunk of flying debris? Why did the alien(s) need to zoom off in a saucer? Couldn’t they have just jumped or parachuted through the portal when it opened in the ceiling? Where did all the water come from when the temple collapsed? It seems like the temple would have needed to be surrounded by a major-sized lake beforehand.”

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