Looking Back: Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Colin D Miller October 7, 2012 Features 1903 I’d been waiting for nearly 20 years for this film – 20 years that were filled with daft rumours after daft rumours about who was working on the script (Frank Darabont, M. Night Shyamalan) and gossip columns wasting paper space by speculating on what the plot would be about and who would be in it (Kevin Costner as Indiana’s evil long lost brother…) It seemed like it was never gonna happen. In the meantime, the chinless technical wonder George Lucas released the Star Wars prequel trilogy, which saw everyone going Jedi kerazy in 1999 (me included – I was only 19). After months of teaser trailers and cryptic press releases, The Phantom Menace was unleashed onto the world and the world whimpered. Everyone saw it and most of us hated it. Questions uttered included “Who the is this Jar Jar clown?”, “Midichlorians? Isn’t that what they put in swimming pools?” and “Why the hell is Padme attracted to a 9 year old?” Trouble is, The Phantom Menace had a lot of expectation on it’s shoulders – no film that anticipated, could live up expectations. It was a hard lesson for everyone to learn – after all that hype it wasn’t the second coming, it was just a film, a painfully average one at that. Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had exactly the same problem. A 20 year wait, millions of eager fans and a PR campaign that made the movie look impossibly cool. After getting stung by The Phantom Menace (and then later by Superman Returns), I looked upon Crystal Skull with low expectations. I didn’t expect, nor want Raiders of the Lost Ark (perfection cannot be improved) – I just wanted to see Henry Jones Jnr on the screen again, cracking his whip and punching bad guys. When I finally saw Crystal Skull, I sat there and enjoyed it for what it was – a forgetful action yarn. After leaving the cinema, I felt like it I had sat through two films, with the first half being a typical Spielberg father and son tale, focusing on Dr Jones and Mutt, and the second half being an all out, balls out special effects CGI fest courtesy of Lucas. However, part of me felt that it was 10 years too late for the alien fad that kept most movie goers entertained during the 90s (X-files, Independence Day, Star Gate), but it handled the plot as well as I expected and I thought the film finished at a natural conclusion for Henry Jones Jnr. Addressing his age and seeing him lose his dad and his best mate, only to be reunited with his first love and then finding out that he had a son, was a nice send off for the man in the hat. I left the cinema in a happy mood, sure it was not Raiders or The Last Crusade, but it was enjoyable and certainly a lot better than most pap that gets released these days (I’m looking at you Transformers). A few days passed and clearly a few people had a few issues about it. No sooner than someone had coined the phrase “nuke the fridge”, Indy’s credibility went to an all time low. A few people were miffed at the at the CGI gophers and monkeys, and to a certain degree I could see their point (in all honesty, they didn’t add anything to the story). But what baffled me the most was that some people were complaining about the aliens – saying that they serve no purpose in an Indiana Jones film. A few people even said that they were too far fetched! That’s right, people were saying that featuring aliens in a series about a fictional acheoligist who looks for mystical long lost items, is one step too far towards the fantastical. Melting Nazis with an ancient mythical artifact is ok, but extra-terristrials are not. Finding the holy grail that is guarded by an ancient Knight is acceptable, but finding alien skulls in South America isn’t. The Indiana Jones series is all about extremeties and no matter how close you hold the original films to your heart, they are not meant to be taken too seriously. I for one enjoyed Crystal Skull, sure it was weak in places and sure there were certain parts of the film that required a pinch of salt to enjoy it, but it was generally ok. My main complaint was the fact that Karen Allen didn’t really have much to do, but it was great to see Marion back with Indiana. And Shia Lebeouf wasn’t even half as annoying as he could have been (again, I’m looking at you Transformers). In fact sitting here and watching it again on blu-ray, I’d be quite happy if they made another one. The Indiana Jones series is out on blu-ray on 8th October 2012.