Torch Online Reviews: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

“It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.” And it certainly has been quite a bit of mileage since we last saw Indiana Jones romp through jungles, temples and so on. But just like an old car with plenty of mileage, it just does not drive like it used to. Unfortunately, that is the case when it comes to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s latest Indy project, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”

Indy IV starts off with, of all things, a pseudo-race between some American teens of the era and a convoy of American soldiers in Nevada. As the youngsters drive away, these soldiers are revealed to be Soviet soldiers infiltrating Hanger 51, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, successfully sporting a cropped, jet black hairstyle and formfitting outfit).

The Soviets have captured Indy to force him to lead them not only to something inside the secret base, but also to a city that is supposedly made entirely of gold. A mysterious crystal skull is a major key in finding this lost city in the jungles of Peru.

The Indiana Jones films have always displayed a sense of absurdity to them. The Ark of the Covenant, a temple of doom, and the cup of Jesus Christ – there was always a necessary suspension of disbelief to it all. But with those films, audiences were always connected to the theories displayed. In the fourth installment, there is far too much disconnect from the content matter; there are too many instances that may leave people with too much confusion over whether what happened was right.

To shy away from any spoilers, we will not dive too much into the details of what happens, but the absurdity was taken a bit too far. Most of the problems lie within the inclusion of advanced CGI. George Lucas has become notorious of overuse of CGI and his producer credit certainly had him involved in what happened here. Some of the elements were unnecessary but included because the CGI allowed for it. For wanting to do things the old way, the film certainly does not strive too hard in some aspects.

Indy is aided once again by Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), only now her surname is Williams and has a son named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) tagging along. Allen brings a nice sense of nostalgia back, but LaBeouf is a surprisingly nice addition to the mix. His character is not annoying or prone to contempt; rather, he adds youth where elsewhere there are references to old age. Mutt also provides more of a gateway to some decent jokes, the reference department bring where most of film shines.

However, it cannot save the odd story. Most of its absurdity is acceptable, but it goes beyond its limits. It is nice to see Indiana Jones back on the big screen and the film is rightfully entertaining. And of course, it is going to make money. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t feel right.

2.5 out of 4 stars