It was revealed to me in a dream that “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was a terrible movie. I assumed this to be a reaction to the so-so early word that the movie was getting from Cannes, and decided not even to mention this to the panel of expert psychoanalysts I keep on retainer. But after the movie started to get generally favorable reviews from generally sharp critics (i.e. Roger Ebert giving the movie 3.5 stars), I started to wonder if my dream contained some sort of hidden wisdom. Perhaps I was chosen to prophecy (or FUTURECAST) a secret truth and spread light to the critiquers who’d lost their way. No matter what, my dream got me interested in a movie that I hadn’t thought about in weeks; if for no other reason, I had to go watch Indy just to make sure that I wasn’t a prophet. With my mind on metaphysics, and money on my mind, I was off to the midnight show.

It’s quite possible that Indiana Jones 4 will be remembered as a great prequel to the Amazing Adventures of Shia LaBeouf: I Have No Facial Expressions What So-Ever. It’s also quite possible that “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” will be remembered as a poor finish for a generally great franchise, the movie where the once infallible action director suddenly looked tired; yet for that matter it’s equally likely that the movie will be remember as a an overall enjoyable popcorn movie which, if it doesn’t cut to the heart of human experience, still provides us with a welcome distraction during a time of mortgage induced malaise. Your opinion probably depends on several factors: 1) Whether or not you believe that Shia LaBeouf does in fact have facial expressions and has fulfilled the promise he showed in “Holes;” 2) Whether or not you believe that a 65 year-old Harrison Ford still has the raw sex appeal of a young Alain Delon and enjoy his boomer second romance with the ageless Karen Allen; 3) You like your movies to have disappointing endings; and 4) Cate Blanchett and the occasional thrill doth a great movie make

The movie is not without it’s positives. It’s surprisingly funny, and the chase around New Haven is quite thrilling. Plus there’s Cate Blanchett channeling equal parts From Russia With Love, Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle, and your crazy uncle’s mail-order bride from pre-Putin/pre-Oil! Russia. The Harrison Ford-Karen Allen love story is often highly entertaining and I even found the story to be an interesting, logical next exploration into the pulp genre. Actually, this might be one of the movie’s biggest scores. Lucas and Spielberg took a big chance by changing genres and moving Indy into the realm of 1950’s Sci-Fi–even if it meant the movie looked a bit too much like “Stargate.” There’s something to be admired in their limited self-iconoclasm. Read the rest of this entry »