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Published: May 22, 2008 at 11:55 AM
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a great movie...for the first hour. Unfortunately, the second hour is so grossly out of touch with the Indy genre and fan expectations, it ruins Indy's return to the big screen.
The lights dim, the Lucasfilm logo appears and the theater erupts into a resounding ovation. For the next hour, moviegoers viewing screen 19 at the Downtown Disney AMC are greeted with the action, witty one-liners, and adventurous plotline one would expect in an Indiana Jones movie. Not to mention that Harrison Ford has still got it and Shia LaBeouf isn't that bad after all. Everything was going better than expected until the CGI kicked in and the movie turned into a jungle-vine swinging, giant-ant dodging, waterfall jumping, third encounter of a disaster.
The gratuitous special effects were unnecessary and detracted from the story so much so that the energy that greeted the film had flat lined not because the midnight showing was passing into its second hour, but because the devolution of the film sucked the excitement out of the crowd. There wasn't any room for the viewer to develop their own interpretations or use their imaginations as in the previous Indy flicks. As a result, the climax and conclusion of the film felt disjointed and far-fetched. The film just wasn't Indy anymore—it had more of a Brendan Fraser's "The Mummy" feel with a hefty dose of "X-Files" mixed in.
When the credits finally rolled, the half-hearted applause was so faint I had to look around to confirm the majority of the theater hadn't cleared out. But, everyone was still sitting in their seats, paralyzed, wearing the same glazed-over looks on their faces. You'd think we had been staring into the eyes of a crystal skull for an hour. Even so everyone managed to come out of their trance of disbelief and head for the exits. Appropriately, most circles shared the same conversation shuffling their way out the doors; how could something that started off so good turn into something so bad?
After 20 years in the making I'm sad to report that Indy 4 was a disappointment. I really wanted to like it—I mean it's Indy—but I just couldn't. If this is the script everyone agreed on, I can only imagine what was omitted in the rewrites. I give "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" a 6½ out of 10 only because the first hour was so enjoyable (and included a veiled reference to my hometown, New Britain, Connecticut).