‘CRYSTAL SKULL’ HAS NO POWER | Suspended belief drains magic from film
After George Lucas described the latest installment of the “Indiana Jones” series a few weeks ago as “just a movie,” we should have guessed that the buzz created by this long-awaited sequel was nothing more than an annoying gnat.
Harsh, I know, but “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which opened in theaters today, was very irritating. The element that made the original trilogy so good – a level of believability that drew you into the film and made you forget you were inside a theater – was nowhere to be found in “Skull,” which Lucas co-wrote and produced. Instead, a twistedly convoluted storyline, over-the-top special effects and a painfully self-deprecating Harrison Ford combine to prompt you suspend belief over and over. You realize time and again you’re at a movie (and not a very good one at that) and not experiencing something special. The movie distracts you from the movie-going experience. The magic of the “Raiders of the Lost Ark” has been replaced by a cartoonish thing that had me wondering whether Steven Spielberg really did direct this very mediocre piece of movie-making.
I wrote a few days ago about how much I enjoyed the three “Indy” films, especially the final installment (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Those films worked. Ford, as the adventurer and archeology professor Henry Jones Jr., was flawless. The scripts were solid and the stories told like good historical fiction, despite the fantastical elements. They were fun. “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” has a few fun parts, but the smart dialogue and engagement of the earlier films just aren’t there. Lucas and Spielberg seem to me to have tried to replace them with Twinkie filling…a sugary, protein-less concoction of computerized special effects and technology that are so unreal, so distracting, that it even made the popcorn taste bad.
You can read our own Neil Morris’ review in today’s Herald or at his website here. Editor Billy Liggett will also likely weigh in later on Friday.
No doubt the film will do well at the box office, but the Indiana Jones franchise will certainly take a hit when the numbers fall of the charts after opening weekend. It is, after all, just a movie.