The problem of success is that the more you produce of a successful formula, the greater the risk of becoming a parody of yourself. This is the precarious position Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and the rest of the gang find themselves in at the outset of the 4th Indy flick.
At the opening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we once again find Indy and a buddy in a dire situation. The Commies (who have replaced the Nazis as the arch villains) have kidnapped Indy and brought him into Area 51 to help them uncover one of the many hidden artifacts in the top-secret location. Indiana Jones, ever the opportunist, somehow escapes only to be drawn in to another adventurous caper to recover Peruvian crystal skulls.
If you’ve found the plot summary above short and simplistic, then you have a clear expectation of the actual plot in the movie. There are no mysteries to uncover, no clues to follow, no unforeseeable plot twists (one foreseeable twist!), and no anchor in reality. Even the simple logic that Dr. Jones and his partner Mutt use to arrive at the final step in their adventure is difficult to follow. Sadly, George Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp may have ruined another great movie series with their shallow and plodding story.
With all that said, Steven Spielberg can still direct a good movie. The action sequences of the film are fun, yet creative, a nice change to the shaky cam technique employed by many action directors today. Harrison Ford turns in another excellent performance as the confident, crass, and adventurous professor, while Shia LeBeouf holds his own as Mutt Williams, sidekick to Indiana Jones (and apparent successor to the Indy film empire). Cate Blanchett was the only notable disappointment. Through no fault of her own, Blanchett’s character, Dr. Irino Spalko, is more of a Commie caricature, than an interesting character that adds a much-needed dimension to the movie. A solid script for these veteran actors would have turned a mediocre film into a great film.
Indiana Jones fans will be happy to note the constant nods and winks to the previous installments of the series, but it is not enough fun to save this flimsy action flick. The fourth movie in the series is fun and forgettable.
High-Life ministries saw the film as part of our Senior High Film Club. We will be choosing movies all summer long to watch and discuss the redemptive themes. As followers of Jesus we believe there are redemptive themes all around us, and we must be looking for these beautiful stories.