Keeping Up With the Joneses

Back in December of 2006, when George Lucas announced that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was going into production, I wrote, "Still, 'Hopes High, Expectations Low,' that's my motto. I hope it's great, every bit the equal of Raiders, or at the very least the equal of Last Crusade, and I'm excited about seeing it based on my hopes. But I don't expect much from it at all. If it meets my hopes, great. If it meets my expectations, too bad, but at least I'm not disappointed."

I went in with high hopes, and higher expectations than I really meant to. I was not disappointed. Is it the equal of Raiders? Certainly not, but what could be? Is it the equal of Last Crusade? Probably not. It's safe to say that it's the weakest of the Indiana Jones movies - but that doesn't mean it's a bad movie by any means. In fact, I thought it was pretty damn good. It hits all the right notes and very few wrong ones. There are great chases, narrow escapes, improbable fights, and all the stuff you want from an Indiana Jones movie.

For the most part, this movie sort of defies review. It's not like any of the previous movies had much intellectual content or emotional weight. The most heart any of them ever showed was the father/son stuff in Last Crusade. Crystal Skull tries to earn a few easy points with a few mentions of Sean Connery's character - but that's about it. Really, any review of an Indiana Jones movie has to come down to whether or not the action set-pieces work or not. And, well, they do, quite well.

Cate Blanchett makes a great villain, and is clearly having a great time playing against type and, (I don't think I'm spoiling anything here) when good triumphs and evil is punished, gets one of those fun, franchise-standard bizarre and gruesome deaths. Shia LaBoeuf is a good sidekick, and it's as much a delight to see Karen Allen's Marion Ravenwood return as I expected.

Is it dumb? Yeah, kind of. Does it occasionally make you roll your eyes and think, "Yeah, right?" Yeah, kind of. But, well, you also have to remember that our introduction to Indiana Jones involved a temple with booby traps that were triggered by Indy putting his hand into a shaft of light, and a giant, perfectly round boulder. Suspension of disbelief has always been tenuous at best where Dr. Jones is concerned. Which is just how it ought to be.