Sunday, June 29, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


The fourth instalment of Indiana Jones is to Steven Spielberg (Minority Report) what House of Flying Daggers is to Zhang Yimou (The Road Home). In both cases, these two famous movie directors wanted to take it easy and have fun. However, Spielberg's attempt to have fun is a nightmare for movie viewers.

First of all, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begins when we learn that a Russian squad led by Colonel Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), during the 1950s, were trying to steal a secret artifact known as the Crystal Skull by using Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones (Harrison Ford). Of course, this is not any kind of artifact; it's hidden in an American top-secret military base. However, as Jones escapes the Russians' clutches, a race between him and the USA's number-one enemy (at the time of the Cold War) will begin to uncover the secret behind the Crystal Skull.

Obviously, while Spielberg probably felt like a kid in a sandlot with this movie, the same thing can't be said for movie viewers. In fact, unlike what Yimou did for House of Flying Daggers, the director behind great movies like Saving Private Ryan doesn't even bother to display a minimum of effort to make this flick being a presentable one. Therefore, one may wonder if Spielberg lost his passion for movie making.

After all, with a fairly good screenwriter like David Koepp (Spider-Man), this movie can't even feast our appetite with a coherent storyline. Thus, the script is unwillingly too slow. Of course, this is not due to the fact that Spielberg tried to emulate Wong Kar-Wai's style. Let's just say that the story takes so much time to unfold before our eyes. As a result of such a bad scriptwriting, this movie's first part is nothing more than a succession of hilarious scenes that don't even have a logical link between them.

In other words, while looking at the first part, we come to wonder if this movie has any story at all...

Even worse, when the story supposedly begins, we just want to hold ourself back from rolling on the floor and laughing. This means that Koepp doesn't succeed in saving this movie from a catastrophe with a succession of action scenes - that are rather interesting. In fact, one may get the same feeling when watching a 1970s kung-fu movie: the lack of flesh in the story is just a pathetic excuse to pile up one action scene after another.

Evidently, this movie's mindlessness is due to not just the lack of coherence from the storyline, but also the lack of depth in the development of characters. Unfortunately, the characters are just caricatures of a cartoon characters. For instance, while Indiana Jones looks like the hero who always have the answer for getting out of a mess, some characters revolving around him seem to be just here in order to look like dumbs for the rest of the movie. All in all, even though the cast seem enthusiastic at playing in this flick, its members is stuck with one-dimensional characters. Without a doubt, the lack of nuances in the cast's forced performance make us lose any interest for the movie.

With such a review, does it mean that the movie might not please to the audience in general? Once again, it really depends of what you expect from this movie. If you really want to take a rest, than this movie, thanks to its action scenes, will help you to go to bed. If you just watch it out of curiosity, then expect to be dismayed if you've seen the three previous Indiana Jones movies.

Rating: 2 / 5

***


USA (2008)
Length: 124 minutes
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay: David Koepp
Starring: Harrison Ford, Ray Winstone, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf and Karen Allen

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