As we mentioned in episode 104, we were interested to see what filmmaker and Paunch Stevenson Show guest Scott C. Clements thought about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. He wrote to us:
“Regarding Indiana Jones 4, to be honest, I was so disappointed in it, it’s hard for me to even think about it. It was quite a bummer for me.
I remember when I was interviewed on your show, I expressed how skeptical I was about Indy 4 because I had lost faith in George Lucas and I was wary of Harrison Ford’s age and the 1950s setting.
As reports came in about Steven Spielberg’s attempts to refrain from the Lucas school of film making by sticking with old school action techniques instead of relying heavily on computer graphics, I started to think the project could actually be good. Also, the publicity photos of Harrison Ford and Karen Allen were incredibly flattering and the 1950s setting started to appeal to me because of its roots in George Lucas’s early work, American Graffiti.
However, my hope turned to dread as I sat through the movie. My biggest problem was with the villains. They didn’t do anything particularly horrible, so it was difficult for me to fear them. It took a second viewing to even figure out that they wanted to rule America with the crystal skull’s mind control powers. If I don’t fear the villain, there isn’t much drama. For example, when Nazi henchman Toht is about to burn Marion’s face off with a red hot poker in Raiders of the Lost Ark, my adrenaline starts pumping like crazy. He’s going to disfigure her, for God’s sake! Same when the Thugee priest Mola Ram, from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, rips the heart out of a poor villager and laughs with glee as the man’s heart ignites into a ball of flames in his hand! This is one sick bastard and I’m terrified just thinking of what he’ll do to our heroes if he gets his hands on them.
This sort of danger was lacking a bit from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which was why that was the weakest film for me…until Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Cate Blanchett and her Russian henchman did little to make me take them seriously as a threat to Indy or the world. Cate had a rapier, but she didn’t stab or torture anyone with it so it was a pointless prop, in a character building sense. I have a strong suspicion that Lucas and Spielberg felt they had to play down the villainy of the Russians for political correctness’s sake. We all know the Russians were no Nazis. The Nazis were undeniably evil, so it was quite fitting for Indy to bash the living heck out of them in his previous adventures. But, he did little of that in this film, which really took away from the grittiness a true action film needs. Instead, this played as a mostly comedic Jones family reunion special. Put most simply, this “action” film had no spine.
And don’t even get me started on the fact that Indy almost never used his whip or gun! That was absurd! I also hated the lame comedy, including the ridiculously cartoonish-looking CGI gophers and pompadour-sporting monkeys. And what was with the friggin’ fridge scene? LAME!!!
I could go on and on bashing this piece of garbage; I am shocked that the critics have been so kind to it. I think they expect so little from Lucasfilm these days, that they’ve just thrown their hands up in surrender and said, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
Spielberg and Lucas have become too diplomatic in their old age. They’ve lost the rebellious edge they had in their younger years. I really think they should leave the action blockbusters up to the next generation. Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean (Gore Verbinski) and Spider-Man (Sam Raimi) leave Indy 4 and the Star Wars prequels in the dust. It’s a sign of the changing of the guard.”
– Scott C. Clements
Thanks for your review, Scott! Even though we enjoyed the movie, we know a lot of fans didn’t.
We’d like to know how our other listeners feel about the movie, too. Leave a comment and let us know what you think!