Last night, I went to the midnight premiere of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." I can't believe that the last time we saw Indiana Jones in theaters, it was the great summer of 1989 (when "Batman" also came out, which it does this year as well). The summer before my senior year. But this year, we won't have a "Dead Poets Society", a "Ghostbusters II", a "Casualties of War" as we did in the summer of 1989. I'll just have to be satisfied with Indiana Jones and Batman, I guess.
The new "Indiana Jones" movie did start out promising with some intriguing ideas that I love reading about. It was going in a very good direction and the sense of humor was apparent throughout. It was obvious that Lucas and Spielberg were making it for the fun of it. They had fun with it. I loved that they allowed Indiana Jones to age appropriately (the time frame for this film is exactly 19 years after his "Last Crusade" adventures). There's a lot they did with the time frame...1957, when America was entering the nuclear age and getting paranoid about communism run amok in America.
Instead of the Nazis, we have Russians, led by the strangely seductive Irina Spalko (played by Cate Blanchett channeling the lead singer of Swing Out Sister). I was intrigued by her performance. Shia LaBoeuf was also a welcome addition to the cast, as we get to see the flip side of the whole father-figure / son role that worked so well between Sean Connery as father and Harrison Ford as the son. Now he's a mentor to a mysterious kid who arrives on the scene like a mix of James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Jack Kerouac.
The film builds and builds, explaining the idea behind the Crystal Skull and what it's supposed to do. The motive of the Russians is based on history, as the Soviets were quite open about the use of psychic powers to "see" what their enemies were doing or planning. Ultimately, they want to have the ability to control people's minds without the people knowing that they are being controlled. Our government is basically the same way, so it's interesting that people who work in that part of government are more open to the ideas of remote viewing, channeling, automatic writing/drawing, and other psychic phenomenon...while pretending to be strictly Christian to their supporters. Oh, that's not really mentioned in the film (about our government's role, anyway), it's just my thoughts on how Americans seem to be more closed minded than our government is about other sources of information and experiences.
As I watched, I wanted to learn more about the mythology behind the Crystal Skull and I thought the film would've been truly great if they had gone in a realistic direction. Without giving anything away, I was disappointed by the resolution of the film. It was cheesy. Then again, you could say that all the Indiana Jones films have a cheesy element on purpose, since they are supposed to be little more than an expensive update of old serials that Lucas and Spielberg grew up on. Besides, I knew in advance from the interview I had read in "Entertainment Weekly" magazine that it would have "this element" (I don't want to give anything away) in the film to illustrate the time period it's set in, when Americans were in the midst of paranoia about invasions. There were certain movies that were quite popular at the time, so if you see this film, be mindful that it's a lot different from the previous films in how the adventure gets resolved.
All too many scenes remind me of ones I've seen in the film "Congo." But, no use complaining about it. This story is one that George Lucas said he had to tell. It's his whole reason for bringing Indiana Jones out of mothballs. Will it be successful? Undoubtedly, yes. But I have a feeling that fans are going to be about as angry as "the Matrix" fans were about that trilogy's resolution. You just can't please the fanboys, but the film is what it is. And "Raiders of the Lost Ark" it ain't.