In my article where I debated whether Temple of Doom or The Last Crusade was the better Indiana Jones sequel, I made a snide remark about how I didn't consider Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as part of the Indiana Jones series. And, you know what? I kind of feel bad about that statement because, in all honesty, I really don't think Crystal Skull is a bad movie.
Would I put it up there with the other two sequels? Not on your life, partner. But, as a continuation of the Indiana Jones story, it could have been a lot worse. In fact, when ranking the Indiana Jones movies, some people even consider Crystal Skull to be better than Temple of Doom. I mean, I don't, but some have certainly made that argument, and I can understand it.
With Indiana Jones 5 on the horizon (with the unfortunate—if you ask me—title of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny), I thought it was time that I finally went to bat for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (unlike Kathleen Kennedy), because honestly, it's actually pretty good. And, I have five reasons why.
The Action In It Is Still Incredible
Harrison Ford was 64-years-old when he filmed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and he didn't look a day over…64. But, wait! I don't mean that in a bad way. Unlike some films starring older actors who still perform death-defying stunts (*cough* Tom Cruise *cough*!), it features a mature actor who actually looks mature, which actually adds to the suspense as it makes all the action feel more real and dangerous. Like, this guy can pull his hip if he's not careful, and he’s still running on boxes and swinging with his whip? Be careful, Indy!
It doesn't stop there, either, as there are some really enthralling action sequences, one involving a cool motorcycle chase, and another being a fight amidst giant ants. Yes, there was also some really cheesy swinging on vines nonsense, and I’ll never forget the infamous “nuke the fridge” moment. But, the rest of the action is as good as anything in the previous three films. So, yeah, Crystal Skull definitely has its issues, but the action isn't really one of them.
Harrison Ford Is Still Compelling As An Older Indy
As I mentioned in the last section, Harrison Ford was way older than 39 (his age in Raiders of the Lost Ark) when he made Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but dadgum, he still had it then, and he’s still got it now. We of course know that Harrison Ford is going to be joining the MCU pretty soon, and he's also in Taylor Sheridan's 1923. But, even though he probably won't be swinging from a whip, or punching KGB officers in either of those projects, I still think that Ford was convincing as an older Indy in Crystal Skull.
In the first three films, Indy always seemed pretty old for an action hero, or rather, more mature. That said, he never seemed ornery in any of those films. But, in Crystal Skull, Indy seems grumpy, just like an older man would feel when being pulled out of semi-retirement. This is an Indy who is weary of adventuring, but will get back in the saddle if it means stopping the bad guys. And, I really love that aspect of the film.
Yes, it was obvious that the movie was meant to be a torch-passing moment between Harrison Ford and Shia LaBeouf (more on that in a few), but I really dug the fact that Indy was definitely older in this picture, and the movie didn’t try to hide it.
Indy Having A Son Is A Good Idea...In Theory
Okay, so one of the aspects that a lot of people despise about this movie is Shia LaBeouf’s character, Mutt, and look, I’ll agree with you to a certain extent. He’s definitely one of the weaker aspects of the film. But, I’ll also argue that the idea of Indy having a son is not an inherently bad one. In fact, I think the chemistry between the two of them is actually not that bad at all.
However, even though I do like the ‘50s time period that the film takes place in, I’m not a huge fan of Shia LaBeouf James Deaning it up, and it’s the one aspect of the film that really pulls me out of the time period, which is a shame, too, since I like the concept of Indy having a son, but not in the way that it was done. It’s not even LaBeouf’s fault. He’s fine. It’s just the character that I don’t like. Oh, well.
The KGB Make For Interesting New Villains
Now, yes, I know. Indiana Jones fights Nazis. At least, he did in the two most beloved Indiana Jones’ movies, Raiders and Crusade, but my personal favorite movie of the four is The Temple of Doom, where the antagonists consist of a Thuggee cult, so, I’m all about the more unique foes. And, Crystal Skull is no exception, as we have a plot consisting of crystal skulls and telepathy.
Cate Blanchett plays our primary antagonist, Irina Spalko, and I really like the fact that our key villain is a woman. I also like how the KGB would be fitting in this time period, as the film is harkening back to the ‘50s where the Soviets were the easy targets as bad guys. Plus, I just think it’s unique how they fight so much differently than the Nazis in the previous movies. So, the KGB are a strong point in the film, rather than a weakness.
I Actually Kind Of Like The Idea Of Aliens Being In The Indiana Jones Universe
Lastly, I think it’s kind of cool that this can be seen as a sci-fi movie. Is it going to land on any best sci-fi movies list? No, of course not. But, I was probably one of the few people who saw the UFO rise out of the ground at the end of this movie, and thought, "Wow, that’s actually kind of cool."
Because, you know what? It is cool. Indiana Jones closed his eyes when the Ark was opened in Raiders, and met an old knight in Crusade. Hell, he even witnessed a heart beating AFTER it was ripped out of somebody’s chest in Temple, so I’ll never get why people got so upset when they saw aliens in Crystal Skull. I thought it was very consistent with all the weird stuff that we’d gotten in earlier films, and I admired the fact that they were willing to add something new that was both totally different, but also very on brand with the series. Because when you add aliens, really anything goes.
What do you think? Do you also enjoy Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? For more news on all things Indiana Jones, make sure to swing by here often.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.