Well, several hours ago I walked out of the Hamilton 16 Movie Complex, having seen the new Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It was not what I had expected. So here is my spoiler-free review: it was an average film - closer to NATIONAL TREASURE 3 than an INDIANA JONES movie - but was most disheartening was how far off the beaten path Speilberg and Lucas went to deliver the story line - what made Indy truly great was not just the adventure, but the folklore, the history, and the spiritual element that made every adventure - and every legend - potentially real. Believable. And that's where the idea for this film took a wrong turn. It was more about Indy living in the 1950's than about the adventure itself - which is what we all care about most. Now to my spoiler review....
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! RECOMMEND ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ALREADY SEEN THE MOVIE!!!
Now back to my point about the 1950's - it was the start of the Cold War. The Nazis had been replaced by the Reds as the "military villain of choice." I kind of like seeing the Ruskies back in action - it was a throwback to my early adolescent years and classic Cold War movies like RED DAWN - ("That hate'll burn you up kid." "Keeps me warm.") But the 1950's also saw the explosion of classic drive-in sci-fi movies - movies that no doubt fascinated Lucas and Spielberg. And since the Jones character was a tribute to another old film genre that they loved (the adventure serials) it might have made sense that bringing Indy in to the 50's also meant taking him into B-movie science fiction. And the world of science in general.
Sure - it might make sense, but it doesn't work.
Yes, Indy encounters aliens in this new adventure. The movie even starts at Area 51. And I think this, more than anything else, kills this from being a great Indiana Jones film. It has sapped the life-blood of an Indiana Jones adventure, which is believing in the legend. Believing in the magic. Seeing Jones look for flying saucers just isn't something that I can believe in, and in the end it makes the hole adventure kind of pointless. As much as I wanted to love this film, I just had trouble doing it. Thankfully, 1940's Indy can live on in my DVD player - with no Aliens or atomic bombs. Just good ol' Nazis and the wrath of God.