Starring: ET, Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf.
First things first-I haven’t seen the previous 3 Indiana Jones films and am judging this film purely on its own merits and not on the reputation built up by the previous 3 flicks.
The first thing that strikes you about this movie is just how boring it is, the whole mountain out of a mole-hill joke notwithstanding (it’s a visual joke involving the mountain in the Paramount logo). At least on that count, the film is consistent-the beginning’s boring, the middle’s boring and the ending, is well, absurd. And boring.
The story is one twisted pile of mumbo-jumbo involving a crystal skull that has the power to influence people’s thoughts. Woven into all this is some more mumbo-jumbo about the power of thought and “the space between spaces”. The movie has just too much of plain, dry, drabby dialogue to keep you engaged for a span of more than 5 minutes.
Indy is portrayed as some super-archaeologist who can decipher clues before you can say “Dr. Jones” and survive a nuclear blast by sitting inside a lead lined fridge. But one thing has to be said, he really hasn’t slowed down. The stunts that guy manages are pretty decent, the high point being the bike chase culminating inside a library. That to me, was also the best sequence of the film, but sadly, it came too close to the beginning and from there, the film was pretty much sliding way south. Very quickly.
To his credit, Shia stands his ground against the likes of Ford and Blanchett as the James Dean style greaser. The attention he constantly endows on his hair provide some nice little comic relief. Sadly, the rest of the support cast is just wasted. Even the main baddie, Irina Spalko (played by Blanchett) has little to do, other than look cold and aloof. John Hurt as Professor Oxley, the man because of whom the whole quest for the crystal skull starts, does little to further the story, and a lot to cloud your mind by spouting philosophical mumbo-jumbo at every opportunity he gets. It is really sad seeing someone of his calibre wasted in a role like this.
For all of Spielberg’s talk that this movie was going to be CGI free, the ludicrous climax DOES feature A LOT of CGI which just cramps Indy’s style. In fact, the CGI comes out with a vengeance as soon as the story shifts to the jungles. A lot of scenes look embarrassingly artificial.
The music by the otherwise dependable John Williams is just clumsy and boring to say the least. Williams shows complete lack of imagination while scoring the action bits and the bike chase I mentioned earlier lost a lot of its steam because of the music (which, I can only guess, was dance music at best) playing in the background. Williams neither builds upon, nor rehashes his old Indy themes, leaving a rather sore ear at the end of it all.
All said and done, this movie shows what poor scripting can do, with the combined likes of Ford, Blanchett, LaBeouf and Williams at a complete loss about what to do. Watch it only if you have to. Although, I would strongly advise people to give this one the miss.