Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones returns to the big screen after 19 years in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Before I begin, I must make something clear. I have seen many critics reviews of this film that do nothing but compare it to the original trilogy. I find this to be terribly unfair, and I am here to review this film as a singular piece of work. Harrison Ford stars as the title character Indiana Jones, a professor who insists that the best way to become a great archaeologist is to get out of the library. In this new adventure, Indy faces a new enemy in the form of the Soviets, specifically Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). Spalko is a leading scientist that specializes in the study of psychic ability. Her search for knowledge has brought her to Jones, who she hopes can lead her to a source of earth shattering power: a crystal skull. Legends say that whoever returns the crystal skull to its rightful place will be given control over the power it possesses. With some help from old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and her son Mutt Williams (Shia Labeouf), Indy must race against the Soviets to keep this magnificent power out of their grasp. With lots of old style action sprinkled with new age effects, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a fun ride that is thoroughly entertaining.

There is something that has really bugged me about other critics reviews of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and that is the recurring theme of calling it "too farfetched". Are we supposed to believe that the previous 3 Indiana Jones films were not farfetched? In Raiders of the Lost Ark, spirits rose from the ark of the covenant and obliterated Nazis. In Temple of Doom, men had their heart removed from their body, yet they continued to live. In The Last Crusade, a centuries old knight guarded the cup of Christ, and a man drank from the cup and melted. Yet all of these films are considered classic adventure films. So why not Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Yes the inclusion of aliens in the plot may be a bit over the top, but when has the Indiana Jones series not been over the top?

I am not saying Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is flawless, as it is far from it. I do believe that the plot was a bit flimsy, but it became overshadowed by the excellent direction of Steven Spielberg. He will not be winning any Oscars for this film, but Spielberg fluently expresses his knack for creating an exciting feature that knows how to make your heart race. The action sequences in Crystal Skull are very well put together, and Spielberg does a good job of keeping everything within reason. At times, especially in the beginning, Crystal Skull was very bogged down and uninteresting, but once you make it over that hump, Spielberg does not disappoint. Once the pace begins to increase it stays that way and keeps you content.

Harrison Ford proves age is not an obstacle as the dauntless Indiana Jones. At age 65, Ford still makes it seem seamless to encompass the role of the audacious adventurer that we have come to know and love. He seems almost born to play this role. Ford's on screen charm is highly contagious as he seems to illuminate the rest of the cast as well as arouse joy and interest in the audience. Cate Blanchett lays on the thick Russian accent as villainess Irina Spalko. Blanchett scowls her way through the majority of the film, not providing the high caliber performance one would expect from an actress of her level. Shia Labeouf once again proves himself to be a strong young actor as Mutt Williams. Working along with Ford, Labeouf's performance is often times able to keep the movie afloat during those sinking moments that popped up every now and again. I would not be surprised if we see an Indiana Jones 5 that places Labeouf as the lead, and I would welcome this change with open arms. The resurgence of Karen Allen's character Marion Ravenwood seems a bit contrived, especially since she played such a small part in the film. It felt as though the only reason she was there is so that Spielberg could give us the ending that he did. Near the end of the film, I had actually forgotten Allen was even in the movie, because she seemed to blend in with the scenery.

There is one thing you must remember before watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. And that is to not expect anything. It is one thing to hope for a movie to be good, and a completely different thing to expect a movie to be good. Having an expectation is another way of having a bias. If you are expecting another Raiders of the Lost Ark, you are not going to get one. Expectations can ruin a movie. Watch Crystal Skull as a single film, and then afterwards you may rank it amongst the other films in the series if you like, but do not judge it by the standards set by the other films.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a solid adventure flick that is not lacking flaws, but is also not lacking excitement. Even with a slow going first 20 minutes, the film picks up momentum that is culminated to a final scene that is visually stunning and beautiful. Crystal Skull does not reinvent the Indiana Jones franchise, but simply continues it as though it never left us. Worth multiple viewings, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a fine addition to the franchise and although it may not be everything you wished for, it is a very good film. My Rating (7.5/10)


  1. very nice review, as usual
    i hope they do make a fifth one with shai, that would be cool.

    oh, and i bet you wish you were Indiana.

    jones i mean, dirty mind

  2. Great job reviewing the movie..I guess I'm reviewing the review. I give you a 10 out of 10!
    I liked the latest Indie flick. They filmed the Marshall College scenes all around New Haven, CT where I live and watched them film that whole motor cycle scene which was a blast. I posted pics of some of the filming on my blog.
    Great job!!

  3. My review was a little more harsh than yours. Still thought it was good overall but I took a more critical approach (which I do with most things).

    Enjoyed reading your review though. I'm going to have to catch up with some of your previous ones. I don't just review movies on my site, post some other things too, but you might like to compare reviews with me sometime.

    Keep it up.

  4. I was quite curious about this movie myself - especially at how well Harrison Ford was!

    Personally I think you gave a very great review and you sound like a professional movie reviewer to me!

    I hope you reach your goal of becoming a professional movie reviewer!


Movies given a 10/10

  • Milk
  • In Bruges
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • The Dark Knight
  • Iron Man
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Shining
  • A Clockwork Orange