RvReprieve: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
We like nothing better here at RvR than a new series. And we also like giving unfairly derided movies a second chance. All we want you to do is tell us whether or not they deserve it or not. To kick off our new Reprieve feature Ross McG is going to plead the case for one of the most hated blockbusters in recent memory. Does Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull merit a fairer crap of Indy’s whip?
There are few films more divisive than the fourth instalment in the Indiana Jones series. Divisive in that its audience was split into those who outright hated it and those who had gauged their own eyes out long before the end. But you know what? However appropriate many of you may think its acronym is, I believe KOCS is quite a fun film.
First things first. Is it as good as Raiders Of The Lost Ark? No. But is The Godfather as good as Raiders Of The Lost Ark? There are those who keep referring to the Indiana Jones series as ‘a trilogy’, conveniently wiping the last film from their memory. That is their right. But I think it does exactly what it’s supposed to. And I write as someone who once hated it too.
The problem is one of expectation. Everyone who loves movies loves Indy movies and I was as eager to be reacquainted with Henry Jones Jr as the rest of the world. And so, when the film turned out to be a bit of a mess, I was a bit gutted. But films don’t suddenly die after you’ve watched them once on the big screen (as we all know, there is one exception to this – it was directed by Tim Burton and had the words ‘planet’ and ‘apes’ in its title). So despite thinking it was a pile of piss first time round, whenever I slide KOCS (ahem) into my DVD player now I always enjoy myself (ahem again).
The first half hour is as solid as any recent blockbuster. The Paramount logo turning into a small hill is subversive and funny. Indy’s shadowy intro is perfect. Harrison Ford slips back into the role like a pensioner who’s excitedly found his old football jersey hidden away in the attic. The nuclear test town segment is chilling and thrilling at the same time. The diner scene between Ford and Shia LaBoeuf is playful and light. The ensuing motorbike sequence is great fun.
Unfortunately, the film cannot keep this pace up. So once Indy goes to South America thinks do go a little awry. Too many characters are thrown into the mix on a jungle set that isn’t as convincing as a Lego one I built in my bedroom 20 years ago.
It would be remiss of me to ask for a RvReprieve for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull without mentioning what gets movie fans so riled up. Firstly, Shia LaBeouf. People really hate this guy, huh? Personally, I don’t think he’s ever matched his early work in Even Stevens. Here he’s lumped with a pretty lame character and he makes a decent fist of it. It’s not his fault Steven Spielberg and George Lucas stuck him in with some CGI monkeys. Ah, the monkeys. I could defend them but it would be a waste of web ink. You think they’re shit. And I think they’re shit. Agreed. But I’m not going to let a little crap CGI spoil my overall enjoyment of a movie. If that were the case, I would have enjoyed exactly one film in history. And yes, The Bridges Of Madison County is pretty frickin’ sweet.
And now we come… to the dreaded fridge-nuking scene. Not since Fonzy took his water-skis out of the shed has a cultural moment sparked such ire. Well, I think it’s a brilliant moment. Stupid, funny and original all at the same time. Three minutes beforehand we see the remains of an extra-terrestrial, so don’t get all uppity when Indy climbs into a fridge to survive a nuclear blast.
Look, Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull isn’t a great film. It isn’t nearly as good as any of its Indy predecessors. But a lot of it is great fun. Even if you hate it, you can’t accuse it of sagging or being needlessly bloated. It rattles along at a cracking pace from set-piece (some good) to set-piece (some not-so-good). And for that reason, I think it’s worthy of a reprieve. But it doesn’t matter a damn what I think – what do you think?
DOES KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL DESERVE A REPRIEVE? TELL US BELOW…