A while back, I wrote about how movie franchises rarely make it to the fourth installment, and that there’s a reason for that. The latest offering in the Indiana Jones series is a painful reminder of why this is usually true. It would be easy to blame George Lucas, and, in reality, he is mostly to blame. He really tried to do too much in this movie. Like a quantum physicist struggling to find the Theory of Everything, this movie attempts to weave every crackpot conspiracy theory on the Internet, from alien autopsies at Roswell to the Nazca lines, into a coherent story that features the crystal skulls as its centerpiece.
As an audience member, I am willing to suspend my disbelief at some implausible hokum if it furthers the plot in some way. But what exactly was the point of showing Indiana surviving a nuclear weapons test in the Nevada desert, apart from offering yet another showcase for the CG talents of Lucas’s crew at ILM? And this was in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, so it was all downhill from there. This movie is a cross between National Treasure and The X-Files. And not in a good way.
Like his Star Wars prequels before it, Lucas forgot everything that made the original Raiders of the Lost Ark such a classic, and went off in some entirely new direction, and buried the characters we know and love in a CG-laden reality that is anything but real. I can’t believe Spielberg agreed to direct this mess. Do yourself a favor, and forget this movie was made. Go rent Raiders and Last Crusade (skip Temple of Doom) instead. It won’t cost you as much, and you’ll enjoy it much more.