I am sorry to say that aside from the high-speed chase sequence between the Americans and Russians (featuring actor Shia LaBeouf’s skintight leather pants), I found the Disneyland ride more thrilling than the long-awaited fourth installment of the “Indiana Jones” franchise. The film, which grossed $311 million worldwide opening weekend and scored the second-highest U.S. Memorial Day weekend opening, was hardly a failure, though. But what is financial success when people are willing to see the movie again just to throw rotten produce at director Steven Spielberg whenever his name appears in the credits?
The movie was nostalgic, but in teaching an old dog new tricks, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” didn’t fool me (even with my LaBeouf goggles on). Here are a few things that went wrong:
Any movie where the punchline is “the aliens did it” automatically steps outside my sphere of believability. It’s not that I don’t think the existence of aliens isn’t a definite possibility, I just think it’s more likely that the presence of aliens in film/TV mythology will just make it hokey (unless that’s the point, e.g. “Men in Black,” “Mars Attacks,” “Alf”). What’s even worse is that Steven Spielberg didn’t veer from our traditional image of aliens: skinny, see-through, have flying saucers for space crafts and always have huge heads to house their infinitely more intelligent brains. Flying saucers, really? Note to Spielberg: The next time you run out of ideas for aliens, maybe you should consult your dear friend George Lucas (you know, the bloke who wrote the film?). He has way cooler aliens in his movies.
OK, so it’s more of a “Bond” tradition for the women to get exponentially younger and hotter while James gets increasingly older and crustier, but it would have been nice to see Indy with someone a little less … matronly. Karen Allen is still cute, but a better choice might have caused Mutt and Indy to fight over Evangeline Lily. Cate Blanchett was supposed to be the svelte foil to Indy’s snake-phobic hero, but since she never put her beauty to good use, they might as well have just cast the scary headmistress from “Matilda.” Thank God for LaBeouf and his tight pants.
Poorly conceived plot
Perhaps the best part of the Indiana Jones mystique is that the films draw from some kind of truth within ancient mythology: the Arc of the Covenant, The Holy Grail, Sean Connery is still alive. Here, we have references that Dr. Jones might appreciate: nuclear warfare, ancient runes, communism, but there’s little pay-off when all of these add up to “aliens!” It also didn’t help that Indiana’s near-death scenes had me wondering whether LaBeouf was going to take over sooner than we thought when Indy comes across a creepy fake town that is (unbeknownst to him) used for U.S. Military target practice. Just in time, he shuts himself in a lead-lined refrigerator and while the rest of the town is annihilated from the explosion, mushroom cloud and all, Indy is simply expelled in his refrigerator. If he was in fact thrown far enough away from the site to not get immediately melted from the radiation, I imagine he would have come out looking more like a Burger King Indiana Jones milkshake. But really, we know that Spielberg and Lucas didn’t really worry about the plot, because they were pretty much guaranteed a good turnout thanks to the loyal fan base and general enthusiasm surrounding the flick. They didn’t even bother with a fancy premiere for PR – they were that confident.
I like adventure. I like archeology. I even like LaBeouf. I just didn’t like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” despite my best efforts (especially because bragging that I was on the studio lot when they were filming it would have been much cooler if it was any good). I hope “Indiana Jones 5” fares much better. Either way, I’ll make sure to bring rotten produce the first time, just in case.
Allison Baker is an English senior, Mustang Daily columnist and pop-culture enthusiast.