Ask most die hard fans their opinion of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and you’re likely to get some sneering, some scoffing, and some laughter. For my dollar, there hasn’t been an Indiana Jones film I haven’t wanted to see, and I’ll be there for a fifth chapter. The critical reaction to Crystal Skull was far more positive than you’d expect. Rotten Tomatoes has it at a respectable 76%. Roger Ebert, one of the few movie critics that I agree with more often than not, gives it 3.5 stars. Ebert weighs in on the “ranking” question with a unique viewpoint, “If you eat four pounds of sausage, how do you choose which pound tasted the best? Well, the first one, of course, and then there’s a steady drop-off of interest.”
There have been complaints, mostly about the “Swinging on the Vine” scene, the “Nuke the Fridge” scene, and Shia Lebeouf. I suspect most of these complaints are seen through the lens of the cynical present, and not the pulp fictiony past. None of the Indy films pass any kind of reality meter, and each has scenes more ludicrous than the one before. We (and especially “we”) get too wrapped up in finding flaws and faults, and forget to sink into a film, like we used to, before we became worried about continuity, and plausibility. Where we once let the story take us away, and got lost in the music, the scenes, the characters, now we find fault where we don’t need to. Don’t believe me? Ask a Star Wars fan.(Note: I reserve the right to do all these things at will.)
Do we need an Indy 5? Hell yes.
Harrison Ford is getting older, but Indy was never really about the fitness of the hero. Indy always gets the job done, but rarely because he is faster, or more fit than his opponents. He wins because he’s smarter, because he’s done his homework, because he respects the power of the things he chases. The next film doesn’t need lots of death-defying stunts, just a few close calls.
Shia Lebeouf? We don’t really need him for the next Indy. (We’ll probably get him, though.) Consider the timeline:
Temple of Doom: 1935
Raiders of the Lost Ark: 1936
Last Crusade: 1938
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 1957
There’s no reason we couldn’t have a prequel to KotCS, something set in the early fifties, or even late forties. We’d need some makeup, and a bit of hair dye, but it could be done. We could have the Chinese as the baddies, or the Russians again, even the Nazis.
There’s still Atlantis, Easter Island, Stonehenge, though normally the movies involve the search for some item that we’ve never heard of.
C’mon. Indy tearing it up in post-war Europe, or Australia? I’m there. Who’s with me?