May 18th, 2008 | Digg This
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got its first major screening today at Cannes,
And I think most of us want Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull to be good, which it, sadly, is not. If we love the first three Indiana Jones films, it’s because they had great action, mythic objects of wonder and great comedy touches within big, well-shaped stories; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull feels like it was reverse-engineered from that blueprint, as if enough action and props and comedy would then make a story. Crystal Skull may bring back the faces and themes we remember, but it’s curiously bloated and malnourished, too much and not enough. It’ll make a bunch of money, sure, but even after 19 years of waiting, I can’t imagine it truly satisfying anyone’s jones for Jones.
Well, The Crystal Skull is certainly old-fashioned, though not necessarily in a good way. And many of its striking scenes — notably a climax that briefly recalls Close Encounters of the Third Kind — could only be computer-generated.
With a cast clearly pre-fabricated to appeal to all ages, an overstuffed plot and an ageing action hero, it feels born of commercial calculation rather than a story that needed to be told.
There’s a reason the previous Indy film 1989 was called The Last Crusade. Now it’s really time to entomb this elderly series once and for all.
For the hardcore Jones fans, this film was never going to live up to expectations.
One cinemagoer leaving the first press screening in Cannes said: “George Lucas, you gotta stop hurting us”.
There are some nice moments, and everything is good-natured enough. But this is a moment for Harrison Ford to hang up the hat.
Whatever story there is, a murky journey to return a spectacular archeological find to its rightful home — an unusual goal of the old grave-robber — gets swamped in a sea of stunts and CGI that are relentless as the scenes and character relationships are charmless.
“Crystal Skull” will have its huge audience when it opens worldwide Thursday. Indeed it had that audience the day the project was announced. What is disappointing to those who fondly remember “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” lo those 27 years ago, is the loss of wit and romance. This film feels like work, whether it’s poor Harrison Ford straining to keep pace with his younger self or Spielberg and writer David Koepp piling on the thrill-ride acrobatics that have only scant connection to the plot.
If I paint a negative picture, it’s because you always enjoy a film more if you go in with fewer expectations - let your hopes be dashed to desperation, purchase your movie ticket and come out with a smile better than you could ever have expected. Or go in expecting the greatest film ever made and come out sorely disappointed.