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UNpopular Opinion: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

04.04.2011

Written by:Alex Keen

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

I’m here to talk to you about the much maligned INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL. I’m not hoping to change your mind or to convince you that George Lucas has turned over a new leaf. I am merely here to tell you it’s really not as bad as you might think.

First off, despite the fact that I like this movie, I’m willing to agree with the haters that there are some problems with this movie. I agree that Cate Blanchett butchered a Siberian accent, that her haircut was ridiculous, and that she was the weakest villain of the series. She surely lacked the panache that Paul Freeman brought to Belloq in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. However, if you line her up next to the paper tigers that were Dr. Elsa Schneider and Walter Donovan in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, she’s really not that bad.

Another problem that I am also willing to agree to is the overuse and abuse of CGI effects. It’s really a shame that George Lucas has a hard-on for computer effects, but having this guy make a movie without them is akin to James Cameron not shooting in 3-D. Billionaires can have their obsessions, right?

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL could have kicked loads of ass with some practical effects - just look at what was accomplished in the BOURNE TRILOGY and CASINO ROYALE. I bet that even Harrison Ford would agree that CGI and Indy just don’t mesh.

Despite these compromises, I am not willing to accept the silly verdict that INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is not good. It’s just different than what what you might be used to or what you expected. And, for me, that’s perfectly okay.

I really enjoyed seeing Indy back in action again. It was nice to see him as an older guy, especially considering that Harrison Ford was older making this movie than Sean Connery was while making INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. Despite that fact, Indy seems spry, snarky, and as mobile as ever. He is an iconic figure and even giving him a son and a new wife won’t sully that power. Sure, it’s easy to complain that Lucas and Spielberg made Indy soft, but if Indy were to marry anyone it had to be Marion. She might have been a bit more matronly than in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, but what do you expect? Did you think that she moved back to Nepal playing drinking games with people in igloos?

For those of you put off by the alien storyline, I think you truly don’t understand what Indiana Jones is supposed to be. He’s a vulnerable hero in a world of fantastic mysticism. Just because your two favorite movie have him fighting Nazis doesn’t make that a requirement. Indy was designed to tackle the strange and the mythological. In the 1950s, dealing with Area 51 and aliens is right up his alley. Throw in some Russian mind control jibberish and this is a story fits perfectly into the world of Indy.

For those of you that hate the refrigerator gag, think of it this way. Indiana Jones is very much like an early version of MacGyver. Junior took advantage of a pile of junk and turned them into the Staff of Ra, a visible invisible bridge, and a tracing of an underground tomb. Is it too much to believe that the guy was smart enough to hop inside a lead-lined fridge? Furthermore, if your problem with the gag is that there was no way he could survive a nuclear explosion, remember this: Indy survived the wrath of God. He hung out in the presence of the Ark of the Covenant and lived to tell the tale. When compared to the wrath of God, a nuclear is piddling. And, don’t get all secular on me, even if what was inside the Ark wasn’t tied to a God, that shit melted people’s faces right off.

I understand that picking on INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL seems like the cool thing to do. However, in retrospect I enjoyed it quite a bit. Indy was pure Indy with some new friends, some cool new settings, and brand new adventure. Even if I still love RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE a bit more, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is still a great chapter in the saga of this iconic hero.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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