So, I watched Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last night and I enjoyed it. No one has action scenes as fun as an Indiana Jones movie, and they captured that magic again in Crystal Skull.
I thought the cast was great. I’m a big fan of Shia Labeuf and he didn’t disappoint. Harrison Ford was spot on for the most part. He was different, but it fit. I felt like he was channeling Sean Connery a little bit, which didn’t feel like Indiana, but it made sense.
A lot of people complained about the alien angle, but to me it fit. The archeology behind the Mayan culture and Crystal Skulls is (in some theories) entwined with aliens. Every other Indiana Jones movie dealt with the supernatural… I don’t see why aliens are any different from the Biblical supernatural world surrounding the Arc and the Grail, or the Hindu supernatural world surrounding the Sankara stones. It might have something to do with the fact that I just watched a documentary about the Crystal Skulls so I understood the link they had to aliens and to archeology.
I liked the ending, was torn on the beginning, and was appalled by the Shia as Tarzan bit, but I enjoyed the movie as a whole… with reservation.
I felt there were some major flaws that could have made it great and it wouldn’t have taken much work to fix it in the script stage:
1. Higher Stakes
So, Irina Spalko wants to return the Skull from where it came in order to gain some sort of power where she wants to control every mind in the world? Very communist, it works. But Indy didn’t seem to care about this. In fact, after his experience with the skull, he wanted to return it (for no apparent personal reason), just as Irina did! So, where’s the conflict? The good guys and the bad guys want the same thing? It didn’t even have a “we’ve got to get there first” vibe that could have worked. I never got a sense that there was anything to lose by their returning it. They could have fixed this easily with my next point:
2. Make it Personal
The whole movie hinged on two characters we didn’t care about. Ox & Mac. We have this whole history of characters to pull from and they make up two disposable new ones. The whole journey takes place because of Ox being kidnapped and leaving clues. Why not make this someone we already know and care about? Apparently Sean Connery didn’t want to be involved, so Henry Jones Sr. out. Denholm Elliott died in 92, so Marcus Brody is out. What about Sallah? Or the more obvious suggestion: Abner Ravenwood! It was rumored that John Hurt was going to play the character of Abner – Marion’s Father and Indy’s Mentor who was thought to be dead in Raiders. This turned out not to be true, but it would have made the movie so much better if it was. It gave a reason for Marion to be there. It gave a PERSONAL stake for Indy being there. To go on this entire journey. You could make it a journey to save Abner’s life or maybe his soul. Something that would MATTER to Indy.
Secondly, Mac seemed to be the character that was morally questionable. We had the moment at the end of the movie where Indy tries to stop and save him, but he’d rather have the jewels. We’ve seen this kind of scene before, but who cared about Mac? We’ve got somewhat of a back story for Indy and him, but as an audience we weren’t connected. Why not make Mutt the one that’s obsessed with personal gain? It’s a lesson that Indy teaches him just as Indy learned the lesson in Temple of Doom.
3. More Conflict
Indiana and Marion see each other, have one squable and then they are perfect and happy together. Where’s the tension? Same thing with Mutt. From the very first moment, they are best buds, even when he finds out it’s his son, no tension whatsoever… everyone’s a happy family for the rest of the movie. The things that made the first movies so great was the tension between Indy and his leading ladies… the tension between Indy and his sidekicks. Where was it here? They had so much great opportunity to explore that here and went for happy family adventure instead.
Liked it? Hated it? Other ways to fix it? Comment below.