Let’s start with three words: what the heck? Hopefully you can guess where this review is heading, so if you’re concerned about spoilers, just skip to the part after the spoiler tags where I tell you to save your money unless you absolutely love Indiana Jones or you thought that Temple of Doom was the pinnacle of the series. Everyone else is better off just waiting for the rental.
So Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (henceforth known as IJATKOFCS) starts innocently enough. It’s the 1950s, the world’s a different place, it’s the ATOMIC AGE! We’ve advanced so far in the world that we even need to use CG prairie dogs! A military convoy shows up at a secret base in Nevada or New Mexico (who cares?) and then the first sign that this movie is headed in a bad direction becomes apparent. The military guys who are secretly bad guys break into the secret base and turn out to be NAZ–COMMIES? Are you serious? They’re Russian Communists…COMMUNISTS! Do you know who Indiana Jones fights, no matter what year it is? NAZIS! I’m immediately disappointed that the bad guys are not Nazis, but at this point I’m still willing to see where this can possibly go. Lucky for me, it goes precisely where I don’t want it to go, no matter how much I’m desperately pleading with the screen to not do it: aliens.
So in the first 15 minutes I already think this movie is shit. I mean, Russians and aliens? The Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, heck, even the goddamn Temple of Doom, while metaphysical, are definitely not sci-fi. Perhaps I’m being too picky, but Indiana Jones is not a sci-fi series at all and taking it in this direction is just a bad move. If this isn’t absolute evidence that someone needs to take any and all writing implements away from George Lucas, give him a severe knuckle-rapping, and forbid him from ever writing another word, I don’t know what is.
The plot plods along, introducing Shia LaBeouf, who everyone already knows is Indy’s son, but has to wait for the movie to introduce this fact, who does a barely passing job in a poorly written film (perhaps not his fault, plenty of more talented actors have faltered under George Lucas’ terrible writing. I’m not talking about Hayden. He’s just awful). The group ends up in South America, finds out clues, goes on the run, swings on vines (SO STUPID), and finally gets to this forbidden city. The alien skull is returned, the Russians all die, Indy escapes and gets married, happy ending.
The plot to this movie is just asinine and stupid, the acting is only passable most of the time, CG is way overused, and the whole thing just comes off as silly instead of cool or fun to watch. Seriously, like I said before, save your money and rent this one or you’ll want it back. To be fair, I know plenty of people who are huge Indy fans or who are immune to terrible movies who were able to enjoy this movie, but in general I’d recommend avoiding paying more than $5 or $6 to see this.