This week the Student Activities Council will be showing “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the fourth installment of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ epic action/ adventure series. The film will be shown in the theater located right outside of the bookstore on the first floor of Sykes Student Union. It will play Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. with exclusive midnight shows on Thursday and Friday only.
“The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” has made over $315 million since its theatrical release on May 22 according to boxofficemojo.com.
That makes it not only the third biggest hit of the summer, but of the whole year.
The film reunites Spielberg, Lucas and Ford for the first time since 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
A 19 year break is a long time between sequels and, unfortunately for series fans, this latest entry shows signs of rust. The fact is that “The Last Crusade” provided such a perfect conclusion to the series that “Crystal Skull” really has to work overtime to justify its existence, something it never truly manages to accomplish.
The story revolves around Indiana Jones, whose archaeological skills are required to track down an artifact called the “crystal skull,” which is said to possess supernatural powers. Hot on his trail, as he attempts to recover it, are Soviet agents, angry villagers and even the U.S. government.
Along the way he bumps into some old friends and uncovers a huge secret about his own past.
The biggest problem “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” suffers from is Lucas’ script.
It rarely manages to capture the thrill-seeking spirit of the original three films, leaving long stretches of the movie feeling out of place. The new characters introduced all fall flat with the exception of Indy’s mysterious sidekick “Mac,” played to perfection by a scene-stealing Ray Winstone. The other new characters aren’t so lucky.
Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt Williams is the unluckiest of this group. His scenes range from annoying to flat-out dreadful. Most of this isn’t his fault, however. LaBeouf is a decent actor working with a poor script. One scene in particular, involving Mutt and vines, will be burned into your mind forever, and for all the wrong reasons.
LaBeouf’s exchanges with Ford’s Indiana Jones are another of the film’s shortcomings. He just isn’t a strong enough actor yet to believably go toe-to-toe with Ford. The distance between the two actors is clearly evident during these exchanges.
LaBeouf just doesn’t have the credibility or flat-out ability of Sean Connery, who played Indy’s father in “Last Crusade”.
Cate Blanchett portrays a Russian officer who will stop at nothing to acquire the crystal skull and exploit its power. Blanchett does a decent job but too often her accent and her over-the-top antics make her seem like Natasha, from the “Rocky and Bullwinkle” cartoons.
That brings us next to the criminally underused John Hurt, whose character is essential to the movie’s storyline, though is mostly talked about or referred to.
When he does manage to find himself onscreen he is given next to nothing to do, which is a shame for those who enjoy the fine body of work that he amassed over the years.
The film’s CGI work is also quite suspect at times, especially during the aforementioned Shia LaBeouf jungle scene, as well as during the climax. It often times falls into the category of “just too much”, like most of Lucas’ recent works.
All of that being said, you don’t become the third highest grossing movie of the year without doing some things right.
The best decision Lucas and Spielberg made was in regards to Indy’s love interest.
This character quickly supplants Mutt as Indy’s verbal sparring partner and the nostalgia alone is worth the admission price.
The movie is also spectacularly shot, proving once again why Spielberg is among the greatest directors of our time. The script isn’t strong by any means, but Spielberg does his best to make us forget that by blowing us away with his visual style, and frequently he succeeds.
That leaves us with Ford, Indiana Jones himself. Ford hasn’t exactly been king of the box office over the last several years, but he does a fantastic job reminding audiences why we fell in love with him all those years ago.
He is at his suave and witty best and hasn’t lost a step, despite being 65-years old when he made the picture. It’s his movie and he owns every scene he is in, which is nearly all of them.
The film’s conclusion is also a fitting tribute to the character, though it doesn’t quite beat out the ride into the sunset at the end of “Last Crusade”, it still provides ample closure in case this really is Jones’ last adventure.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a flawed movie that never quite lived up to the expectations fans had for it. All that aside it’s still a fun and often times exciting movie that features Harrison Ford doing what he does best as well as some great nostalgia moments.
Even if it doesn’t top its predecessors, its worth checking out just to see Dr. Jones crack the bullwhip one last time.
Colin McGlinchey is a fourth-year majoring in English with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at CM646588@wcupa.edu.