Indiana Jones And The Crystal Skull
- continuing my revisits if widely beloved Spielberg sequels
So The Lost World is mediocre at best, but I do have a hot take about Crystal Skull: the first half of the film is, in my honest opinion, great. It has its awkward moments (still hate the CG gophers) but there’s so much good stuff in the first hour or so - heck, it’s some of the most fun Spielberg has had in the past two decades (said as someone who believes he’s a better blockbuster filmmaker than serious drama filmmaker.
I love the clarity of the action sequences - the warehouse sequence is a delight, and the chase through the university town later on is a tonne of fun. I’m even pro nuking the fridge - it’s goofy as all hell, but the scenes where Indy realises what’s actually going on in the weird ghost town are a blast (followed by a literal blast). But beyond the action, I think there’s lots of stuff here that has Spielberg operating at his most playful. Take the scene in the diner where Mutt and Indy first meet. It’s such a lively, witty piece of filmmaking - what should be an exposition dump becomes much more as the background energy and the characters’ unspoken gestures and actions start filling us in about who they really are.
Regrettably, the film goes over several cliffs - and not just in terms of the plot - when they reach the jungle. There’s just enough payoff to stick around - I like the way they have Indy grapple with his past life decisions while still ensuring he’s the committed adventurer we know so well. But it’s a downgrade of major proportions. The whole 30 mins stretch of the jungle car chase, killer ant sequence and triple waterfall dive is seriously rough. It’s the worst sort of weightless, unnecessary CG gubbins.
But you know, I have a strange sort of affection for this film while acknowledging its very real, very serious flaws. There’s enough of that classic Indiana Jones spirit in there - especially in its rollicking, delightful first half - that I can’t bring myself to come down as hard on it as so many others have. I’d happily take it over your Marvels or Jumanjis or whatever. It may only be ~40-50% a good film, but it could be worse - it could be Rise of Skywalker.