Well, I’m going back to reviewing books and movies, so here goes:
This movie was just on Spike TV the last couple days. As a standard issue action/adventure film, it is basically OK, no worse than most of the others out there. But as an Indiana Jo
nes movie, it, well, sucks.
A big part of the problem is the original trilogy ended, quite literally, on a perfect note. We were introduced to Jones’ father, played by the great Sean Connery. There is naturally a fair amount of father-son tension. The younger Jones felt neglected as a kid, but his father points out that he always treated his son as an adult. But the perfection was really in the ending. Not only does Indiana have to find the Holy Grail, it turns out he has to figure out which one is the true Grail out of a number of false ones. The Nazi sympathizing guy picks the wrong one, thinking it must be a jewel encrusted gold cup, and of course pays for his foolishness. Indy picks the right one, realizing that Christ, being a simple man who never possessed much money, would naturally drink from a simple cup. So Indy saves his Dad, and then, as the movie ends, we find out what Indy’s real name is, why Connery keeps calling him “Junior”, and why he much prefers to be called “Indiana” along with the explanation for how he got his nickname.
Anyway, my point in focusing on the third movie is mainly to explain why they never should have made a fourth. Did they make a sequel to “Casablanca”? No. And for good reason. Indeed, the only “Logic” behing making Indiana Jones IV is that it would make a ton of money, which, of course, it did. It certainly was not because this movie would live up to the standard set by the first three.
To be fair, you really can’t blame the actors here, who, for the most part, do a decent job. Harrison Ford, despite being in his 60′s, looks quite lean and fit, and so it is not entirely unbelievable to have him swapping punches with the bad guys. No, it’s the story itself which sucks. For one, we now have aliens brought into the picture. Which sets up a major problem. What made the first three films work (especially the first and third) was that they were going after actual, historical artifacts. The Ark of the Covenant was the most important artifact in Jewish history and the Grail the most important one in Christian history. It was easy, therefore, to create a mythology around these artifacts, to assign to them supernatural powers, which would explain why both good guys and bad would pursue them. But here we have the pursuit of some bizarre looking crystal skulls, hence the title of the movie.
The movie starts when a Soviet KGB agent with a Pulp Fiction-like pageboy haircut kidnaps Indy and demands that he find a crate containing a dead alien found a few years earlier at
Roswell. Well, I guess that sort of plot device works for a movie like “Independence Day”, but I think we are entitled to a bit more originality in an Indiana Jones film. Indy, of course, escapes, takes a ride on a rocket sled and then gets blown up by an atom bomb, but he survives by hiding in a lead lined fridge. I guess we can suspend some disbelief here, although the fridge scene really does stretch that awfully far. But enough of that.
Indy then meets up with a young punk and the two of them are off to South America to find the crystal skull. Well, as soon as they do, the Russians show up and take the skull away. Turns out the Soviet bitch (played well by Cate Blanchett) wants the skull as part of some Stalin era mind control project. This is probably the last time the plot makes any sense at all. There are fights and chase scenes through the jungle (turns out the KGB babe is pretty handy with a sword), man eating ants, flying monkeys, and spectacular trips over not one, not two, but three massive waterfalls where no one on board the car/boat seems to suffer even a scratch. Anyway, they all end up at the secret city, which was either built by the
aliens or else by Indians who were taught by the aliens (the movie never really makes this clear), Jones is betrayed for at least the second or third time by his supposed buddy, Mac, the KBG lady finds the crystal bodies of 13 aliens, and when she puts the missing crystal skull on the 13th alien’s body, the whole place comes alive and the plot becomes too ridiculous to describe further, other that Jones and Co escape. Jones even tries to save Mac, though God only knows why he would try to save this multiple times proven traitor, but Mac’s greed gets the best of him, blah, blah, blah, roll the credits, the end.
Anyway, the only further comments I would add are that, when Steven Spielberg and George Lucas team up to make a movie, you’d dammned well expect something a lot better than this. Even Lucas’s Star Wars prequels were better, although the second one wasn’t better by much. Like I said, the only purpose for this movie that I can think of was to make money. Which, I guess, it succeeded at.
Judged on terms as a generic action/adventure movie: 6/10
Judges relative to the other Indiana Jones films: 3/10