Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t a good movie. More importantly, it’s not a good Indiana Jones movie. 13 years after the film made its theatrical debut, it came to symbolize the awful promise made by Last Crusade. Spielberg was old and now he went from daddy issues to wrestling with his age. Harrison Ford was wanting to recapture the glory of his peak career after a decade spent futzing around adult fare where he was barely the lead. Surely, this was going to lead somewhere.
Steven Spielberg isn’t a man in decline. He’s an artist without a point. Every frame of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull reeks of this creative rut. Long-term readers of the site will be quick to point out that I enjoyed The Post and several Spielberg films that came after Crystal Skull. But, that doesn’t mean anything.
Anyone could have made those movies and when compared to the first leg of Spielberg’s work…this movie feels weak. It’s different than Spielberg collecting Awards in the 90s. Those movies were a maverick working in a mainstream he helped to create. Now, he’s an aging man trying to still work on issues that he should have sorted out by 1989.
Cate Blanchett does her best work trying to female Soviet Toht, but her character is a stretch too far. She can hold her own with Indy and has psychic powers. Plus, we need to have a female for Karen Allen to attack. Otherwise, it’s Harrison Ford beating up a foreign broad in a Louise Brooks wig. Some people might be into that, but it doesn’t fit the world of Indiana Jones. But, is that what made things go wonky in Crystal Skull?
Absolutely not. Crystal Skull fails for the same reason that people didn’t watch The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. That being Robert Iger can only climax when he ruins things that George Lucas used to own. Basically, Indy had three solid adventures and while Last Crusade had a soft ending…it was still a definite ending. A definite ending in a time when people could move the hell on from stuff.
The problem with this fourth installment of Indiana Jones is that it still feels unnecessary. While I’m glad that Ford returned to Han Solo and Rick Deckard, those roles felt like they had a point. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade wrapped up what we needed from Jones. Audiences didn’t want more. They wanted to see new things get discovered or created. When I got into this online writing stuff, it was a time when audiences actually screamed for new material and actively bemoaned sequels and retreads.
Now, your fandom is dictated by which studio can yell at you the loudest on social media. Real fans stick for the end credits and they also pre-order everything as soon as they leave the theater. The exhibition window is shrinking people and you’ve got to hash tag everything or someone will duet you on Tik Tok.
Honestly, I feel that if Crystal Skull would have arrived now…it could’ve received a Force Awakens style reception. But, nailing the zeitgeist is a hard thing. After all, we have a fifth Indy movie coming with everyone’s favorite Fleabag. Y’know, the mouthy droid from Solo that all the kids had on their lunchboxes. Keep hittin’ them home runs!
Paramount brings The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to 4K UHD with a rather impressive package. Serving as the first big Indiana Jones bow in the Blu-ray era, the upgrade to 4K is handled with the careful grace I expect from Paramount. You get some new special featurettes, but the majority is ported over from the last Blu release. The real winner on this set is the Atmos track.