Belated Sequels: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
This week on Belated Sequels we’re looking at one of the (if not the) most disappointing sequels to ever offend my mind and eyeballs.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Previous Instalments: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
Time since last instalment: 19 years.
It probably doesn’t help that I love the first three films so much. Who doesn’t?! If you grew up in the 80s or even the 90s I imagine any one of Indy’s first three adventures will fall somewhere among your best loved films. All are brilliant movies with the perfect balance of action, adventure, comedy and fantasy, not to mention they have one of the greatest characters ever conceived in film: Indiana Jones himself, played by Harrison Ford.
How then did the fourth instalment end up being so bad?
Now, I know a lot of you are probably reading this thinking, “It wasn’t that bad!” and that’s fine. If you liked it, I'm genuinely pleased for you, but I hated it and I’m about to tell you why.
I remember seeing an interview with Steven Spielberg and the cast some time before the movie came out where Spielberg talked about how he was making this new film with the fans in mind. He said with every shot, he was imagining how the audience would react.
I, along with everyone else was excited (and nervous) to see a new Indiana Jones film. It had been a while since the last one, so as with all belated sequels there was always going to be a huge amount of expectation, especially considering how good that last one was. I was less jaded back then so was fairly optimistic about it all. How foolish I was!
The film actually started off ok (although I wasn’t sure about Cate Blanchette’s Russian accent). I even loved that there was a re-appearance of the Ark from Raiders while they were in the warehouse! Also, unlike a lot of other people I wasn’t even bothered about the scene where Indie survives a nuclear blast by climbing into a fridge. Sure it’s a stretch but it really didn’t bother me. It’s fantasy after all right?
What did bother me was terrible CGI, dull/unlikable characters, totally over the top action sequences (Shia LaBeouf swinging through the trees on vines and sword fighting while straddling two moving jeeps), not to mention man-eating ants, an unsuccessful “passing of the torch”, the feeling the whole thing was shot in a studio against green screen and...ALIENS??!!!
The alien storyline was a touch too much for me. These movies have always had a religious/spiritual theme. How then did an Indiana Jones film become a sci-fi movie? It just didn’t sit right with me.
At the time this film was made, Shia LaBeouf was Steven Spielberg’s golden boy and I can only assume it was intended that he’d take over from Harrison Ford and become the “new young Indy” in his own series of films. Unfortunately the movie wasn’t all that well received and some time later LaBeouf ran into a few personal and legal troubles that kept him out of the spotlight as far as his acting credits are concerned.
If this was indeed the plan I don’t think it would’ve worked anyway. Shia LaBeouf (as good an actor as he is) doesn’t have nearly enough charisma or the likability factor to carry on the legacy in his own series of films. Chris Pratt on the other hand...
All in all I just found the whole thing bland and lacking the honest charm and fun of the previous three films. It also felt like it was trying too hard. If Spielberg has made the film the way he wanted it to be instead of worrying so much about our reactions to it, maybe it would’ve been a different film altogether. Who knows?
With Indiana Jones 5 coming next year, I can only hope it’s a return to form for our favourite adventurer and that they’ve learned a lesson from this last instalment.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking with it. Feel free to rant your hearts out in the comments.👇