Saturday, May 15, 2021

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


First, they could have easily just called it Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, since I'm sure anyone could find out it's an Indiana Jones film (especially from the music, including John Williams' iconic "Raiders March"), and the original was just called Raiders of the Lost Ark (and its retronym Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is just as longwinded. Anyway, the fourth film in the fabled franchise around a score after Last Crusade in Nevada in 1957, where Soviet agents visit the government warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant is in search of the eponymous crystal skull, said to give great power and knowledge to whoever returns it to Akator.

Similar to how the first three films took inspiration from adventure serials of the 1930s, the fourth entry takes inspiration from science-fiction films of the 1950s, a mantle it carries faithfully from start to finish, with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull being significantly lighter in tone than its precursors. After escaping the Soviets and surviving a nuclear test by hiding in a lead-layered refrigerator (which I actually thought was funny), Indy returns to Connecticut where he still teaches college and encounters a young greaser named Mutt Williams, who wants to help him seek the crystal skull in South America, where most of the action occurs, and Indiana reunites with his old flame Marion Ravenwood.

The fourth film is similar to Raiders in that the main villain does somewhat succeed in the end, but doesn’t completely emerge victorious, meaning the same outcome would occur had Indy just stayed home. On the other hand, it’s definitely good for Indy’s social life given his reunion with Marion, although the similarity to Raiders is in my opinion the biggest issue with the film, which I think many dislike for the wrong reasons, chiefly blinding nostalgia leading them to believe its precursors are infallible (which I don’t). I liked it more than Temple of Doom, and think Shia LaBeouf was a better sidekick than Ke Huy Khan (Short Round), and the ending sort of hints at the franchise’s future.

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