The Movie Maestro's Reviews: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) dir. Steven Spielberg
As the redheaded stepchild of the Indiana Jones series, Crystal Skull seems to be fighting an uphill battle throughout its entire runtime. Whereas The Last Crusade managed to bring most character elements full circle in a satisfying ending to a near-perfect trilogy in this critic's eyes, Crystal Skull adds more of the same, never escaping a creeping sense of redundancy. Jim Broadbent briefly appears as a hollow Marcus Brody stand-in; the Soviets step in for the Nazis but never quite equal the menace; Cate Blanchett tries her hand at the Indy villain of the week with mixed results; every missed goalpost may not be quite a mistake of the screenwriters, but they certainly add up as the film bumps along.
However, compared to many other gratuitous Hollywood attempts to restart beloved cinematic franchises, Crystal Skull still crawls to the top of the heap, thanks to Spielberg and his devotion to the goofy fun aesthetic of the character. With the exception of one, every set piece reflects the formula and tradition of the series, while taking advantage of new comedic opportunities granted by Harrison Ford's age. The new era of the 1950s not only brings the alien invasions of B-movies into Indy's world, but allows Ford to emulate Sean Connery's arc of the last film--that of a father learning to be one. Shia LeBeouf, probably the most-hated part of this film, doesn't deserve the vitriol he gets: his chemistry with Ford may not be immaculate, but it seems genuine, and saves this unneeded entry from complete oblivion.
RIP, John Hurt
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