Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I wanted to love ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’


By MELODY STONE, The Eureka Reporter
Published: May 30 2008, 1:11 AM · Updated: May 30 2008, 1:14 AM
Category: Arts

I went to see “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” 1) because I wanted to see it and 2) because I wanted to love it and write a counter-review for Zack Newkirk’s Indy bash.

Unfortunately, I am not someone who saw that movie and loved it. Not only did I not love it, I didn’t really like it. In fact, I wanted to leave the theater and go to bed.

There were a number of reasons why I didn’t love it:

1) Within the first five minutes of the movie there was a computer-generated ground hog that popped out of the ground and looked cute and annoying for no reason other than George Lucas’ tawdry love affair with CG.

2) George Lucas also loves space. That’s OK; he can love space. But historically Indiana Jones deals with ancient myths about magic and the Bible, not creepy sci-fi-type stuff. Leave that to Mulder and Scully. The Holy Grail, Ark of the Covenant … aliens? One of these things just doesn’t belong here. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief that far, and I think it’s because that’s not what I see Dr. Jones doing.

3) In the original Indie movies, if they needed a place that looked like somewhere the Holy Grail might be kept, they found one. Petra is a real place, amazing and beautiful and a wonder of the world. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is supposed to be in the Amazon, but it looked like it was in a CG universe. The wide shots of the valley where the sacred skull temple was looked fake. I like seeing real places because when you watch “The Last Crusade” now, Petra still looks amazing and beautiful. When you watch “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in 10 years, it will look dated.

4) I’m not exactly sure what the story was. I must have fallen down one of those enormous plot holes and gotten lost.

5) This is something that could have worked if done well, but it felt like a giant cartoon. Cate Blanchett, whom I love as an actress, was basically Natasha from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.” During a crazy chase scene through the jungle while everyone else is muddy and gross, she looks perfect.

I have a great many friends whom I love and respect who liked this movie. But I disliked so much of it I’m having a hard time coming up with things I did like. There was a funny bit in the beginning where Jones and Shia LaBeouf’s character start a fight between greasers and jocks in a juke joint. There was a lot of action, a lot of natives jumping out and scaring people.

Maybe I’m holding the older movies to too high a standard; maybe I remember them as being better than they were (well, “The Temple of Doom” sucked), but this movie hurt my feelings.

My recommendation: It’s a renter. You have to see it, just like you had to see the second “Matrix” movie and the second “Pirates of the Caribbean” or the third “Spider-Man,” but don’t waste $8.50 to see it in theaters.

(Opinions expressed in columns are not necessarily those of The Eureka Reporter or its staff.)

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