Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Genre: Action
Format: Theatrical Release
Director: Stephen Spielberg

Spielberg has completely lost his mind. The latest addition to the epic Indiana Jones franchise falls flat on its face and ends with a big blast of fart. I won't say old fart because Harrison Ford is not to be blamed here. In fact, for someone his age, he never looked and acted better for his legendary role as the ever-athletic, mercilessly-clever archeologist who still has what it takes to uncover the secrets behind an ancient artifact in the form of a uniquely shaped crystal skull. The storyline that follows is serviceable and it is sometimes extremely cheesy (just wait for the monkey scene) but mostly entertaining.

The real problem with the film is the terrible (and I mean TERRIBLE) special effects that made it look like a slightly polished version of a typical Sci-Fi original movie. The badly animated CG animal in the film's opening credit is a potent and evil omen for the disasters to come. Intervals of real and CG sets are used but unlike the technical marvels we have seen in Spielberg's own Jurassic Park and War of the Worlds, only a small fraction of the overblown and overused effects utilized here are great looking. Spielberg seems to have an unhealthy obsession with blooming effects where you see extreme light halos dominating the screen, making the set pieces look extremely fake. The forced lens flare effects that are evident in almost every single scene don't help either. The heavy reliance on CG has doomed the movie into total mediocrity because they are obvious and are extremely distracting, something that was never a problem in the past Indy films.

Perhaps it was a mistake for Spielberg to ressurrect this franchise. Unlike Ford, Spielberg is clearly incapable of recapturing the magic of the previous films. All the actors seem committed to their roles, each doing his/her best to make this movie whole especially the brilliant Cate Blanchett as she perfectly captures the cocky and militant psycho-woman Irina Spalko down to the distinctive Russian accent and masculine grace. Too bad that once they are placed in front of the horrendous CGs, all of those efforts go straight down the drain.

RATING: 2 out of 5

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