Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Impossible Expectations

Many critics and many viewers were disappointed in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Is this justified? It depends on your expectations.

No, this wasn't the greatest action movie ever made.

Yes, it was a satisfying sequel to the original Raiders of the Lost Ark. As far as I am concerned, it was the first satisfying sequel. The second movie, Temple of Doom, was just plain bad. I watched it again a couple of weekends ago and it has not aged well.

The third movie, Last Crusade, was much better but I didn't like the ending for several reasons. The biggest is that they found the Holy Grail only to lose it forever. Oops. I thought that Indy's father should have stayed to become the Grail's new keeper, thus fulfilling his life's ambition.

Crystal Skulls follows the general formula pretty well. There is an opening sequence followed by the real plot. In this movie the two are more closely linked. Indy starts out looking a little old and rusty but the longer the movie goes on the less you notice it.

It was established in the first movie that Indy can beat the average goon so Skulls doesn't even bother showing all of the fights. The supporting characters watch Indy climb on top of a truck and commies start falling off.

The communists are a good replacement for the Nazis. They establish early on how ruthless they are and go from there.

There are some major plot holes. I won't go into them. Ignore them and the movie works better.

I went in expecting a 50s adventure movie with 50s aliens and I was not disappointed. Mutt was a lot more enjoyable than I expected. The return of Marion was a great move.

So why are people complaining? The original movie was a lightening in the bottle event that holds up after decades and multiple viewings. That is nearly impossible to top. The Crystal Skulls at least manages to capture a lot of the original feel without embarrassing itself but it cannot stand on its own. Too much of the movie references the earlier releases.

But this is a sequel so what's the problem?

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