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)