Warning - contains spoilers
In A Nutshell:- I so wanted this to be good. Disappointment was looming...
Opening Remarks:- Yes, I'm a bit late in watching this one. I got it on DVD for Christmas and have only just got round to watching it. I somehow managed to miss it at the cinema. I think, much as half of my brain did want to see a new Indiana Jones film on the big screen, the other half of my brain was telling me, "But remember the lesson of The Phantom Menace". So it got put off and now finally, six months down the line, I have watched it in the comfort of my own home with luxury of a pause button. Before the slaughter begins, let's try and find something positive, shall we?
The Good:- There are the occasional flashes here and there of old school Indy breaking through - the Paramount logo being mirrored by the opening shot, the banter between Indy and Marion when they're trapped in dry sand, the car chase with sword fight - but there are sadly only occasional flashes. Also sadly, this is where the "Good" section stumbles to a halt as I really can't find much more that's decent to say about the film.
The Bad:- Well, where to begin? The main thing that first struck me is how creaky and lifeless Harrison Ford. He's not always been the most sparklingly charismatic of actors but he's always had a bit of life in his performances as Indy and Han Solo. Well, not so in this film. His demeanour overall was that of a tried old bloke who really resented being there all the way through. The second thing that struck me is the inexplicable popularity of Shia LeBeouf. If we're talking about charisma, the lad has all the charm of a slab of beef (which may well be how I refer to him from now on). So right there, you're already struggling with two leads who are boring me. And then come the aliens. Now, obviously, I don't have any problems with a bit of sci-fi but it seems jarring in an Indiana Jones film when they've always been about sacred and mystical objects. It just feels like Spielberg has to crowbar in his favourite black-eyed, grey aliens whenever he can these days. Somehow, as well, the ending feels strangely anti-climactic; I guess because it's trying to be a standard Indy ending (bad guy gets vaporised and place/artifact they've searched for gets destroyed) and, as such, doesn't really convey a lot of danger. In fact, a lot of direction for the action sequences seems curiously flat and unengaging throughout the whole film - not a good sign for an old-fashioned adventure yarn.
The Ugly:- And now we come to some of the truly appalling moments of the film. The rubber snake they use to pull Indy out of the dry sand is pretty bad. As is the nonthreatening threat of a swarm of ants ("Oh no! Look out! They'll steal your picnic food!"). The wedding scene at the end is pretty cringe-inducing complete with potential passing-of-the-mantle-to-the-son shots. But the real kicker for me has to be Indy riding out a nuclear explosion inside a fridge and that, by making the point that the fridge is lead-lined, that somehow explains it all. utter, utter drivel and I just felt like the whole thing was too preposterous from that point on. I know he does perform a lot of preposterous stunts throughout the series but riding out a nuclear explosion is asking me to willingly suspend my disbelief a little too far.
Closing Remarks:- So, in conclusion, then, it's not a good film. I'd go so far as to stick my neck out and say that it's a bad film and they really shouldn't have bothered to make it all. If Indy comes back for a fifth installment, I shan't be watching it. He's had his day and I'd prefer to remember the films that I enjoy than have those memories slightly tarnished by each successive sub-standard sequel. Mr Spielberg, Mr Lucas, just let the old fella be.