Rewind Review – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Posted on 28 November 2018
By Andrew Siddall
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10 years ago, archaeological hero Indiana Jones swung back onto our screen for the first time in over 20. With a fifth outing in the pipeline, this Rewind Review unearths the fourth movie in the Steven Spielberg directed franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Written by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson, Indy 4 sees the archaeologist in 1957 trying to outrace a Russian agent for a mystical and all-powerful crystal skull from the lost city of Akator, with the help of new sidekick Mutt and his old flame Marion.

Indiana Jones is once again played by Harrison Ford (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), who shows us why he really is the one and only Indy. He handles himself brilliantly during the action and has a great chemistry with the rest of the cast.

Starring as Mutt Williams is Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), who takes over the trusty sidekick duties. While Shia is great in the role and gives the character a little depth, he isn’t a very interesting character, with the most memorable stuff being his connection to the main characters and the physical humour.

Also making her return is Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark), as Indy’s original love interest, Marion Ravenwood. She’s as feisty as always and able to handle herself really well when the time comes. It’s just a shame she doesn’t have that much screen time, as she only comes into the story halfway through.

Every action movie needs an antagonist, and in this we get Cate Blanchett (Mowgli) as Spalko, a smart Russian agent who can handle herself with a sword. She does have a good presence and can hold your attention whenever she’s onscreen, but there’s no threat from her which stops her from being as good as she could be.

Filling out the main cast is Ray Winstone and John Hurt, who don’t really add anything to the story and only serve as a help or hindrance to Indy’s adventure.

The story is pretty straight forward and uses the structure for the original trilogy as a basis, with Indy chasing after the MacGuffin of the title before the bad guys get it, but it changes a ton of plot points, making this feel very different. It also steers away from the realistic tone of the original films too and edges it towards a sci-fi movie, which doesn’t fit into the world Indy lives in.

With this being an Indiana Jones movie, there’s plenty of lively action to get adrenaline rushing, and while the action is expertly handled (it is Spielberg, after all), it doesn’t feel like any one is in danger. The chases are good, the fights are good, but when there aren’t any moments where the hero could lose or be killed, we are less likely to route for them. Adding that threat could make it better.

With the new movie having access to more effects, courtesy of ILM, the films makes good use of the new technology to bring us bigger sequences, but not necessarily better. For the most part, the effects look good, but certain green screen and creatures look out of place when the movie becomes more reliant on them.

Which brings us to the part most people were turned off, the sci-fi aspects. Under the right circumstances or as part of a different franchise, this could potentially work, but in an Indiana Jones movie, not so much. It’s also a known fact that Steven Spielberg wasn’t too keen on this either, and if he has his reservations, then its best to change it.

The legendary music maestro, John Williams (Superman) returns to create a new soundtrack that is nothing short of amazing. It heightens everything that happens on screen and harkens back to the days when soundtracks were properly cinematic.

With Indy and the crew riding off into the sunset at the end of Last Crusade, that seemed like a pretty definitive way to end the franchise, so bringing it back was a risky move that didn’t really pay off and left many fans disappointed. We can only hope that, moving forward, the next adventure will be better.

Even though this is a good film with some excellent action sequences, overall, it just simply can’t match the genius, pulse pounding adventure of the original trilogy. It messes with a perfect formula and takes some risks that don’t pay off. It’s entertaining, but it isn’t great.

Purple Revolver rating: 3/5. Belongs in a museum!