Finding it hard to understand why people hate Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so much

Maybe people just don't like Communist Russians as much as Nazi Germans...

I really like Spielberg and Lucas’s Indiana Jones franchise. The first three films were childhood favourites and are still up there in my fave films of all time. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade have never really had to battle for adoration from members of the public. Everyone seems to love them. Yet when it comes to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull there’s a lot of hatred out there and I just don’t understand why.

You should probably stop reading now if you don’t want any spoilers.

I’ve watched the fourth film a couple of times now, since seeing it in the cinema back in 2008. And in the past twenty-four hours I have rewatched all four films, so I’m feeling like I might be able to discuss the apparent hate from fans and critics. What perhaps, more than anything, has sparked off this blog post is the amount of “oh don’t watch Crystal Skull” when I mentioned yesterday that I was rewatching the franchise.

So, why do people dislike the fourth part of the franchise? The excuses I’ve seen or heard upon the film’s release and since range from people not understanding how it is that both Marcus and Jones senior could be dead, to people missing the Nazis being the bad guys, to Shia LaBeouf playing a main character, to Indy ending up in a refrigerator, to people not liking the inter-dimensional beings and people complaining about Indy doing similar things to what he’s done in the previous three films. Now let’s have a look at all of these.

Marcus and Jones senior are dead

All right guys, it was made pretty clear near the end of Last Crusade that while you could drink from the Holy Grail, its ability to make you immortal only lasted when you did not go beyond the “great seal”. Y’know, that big thing on the floor that Elsa tries to take the Grail past that causes the whole complex to collapse?

Considering that Marcus and Jones senior were pretty old as characters and that film was set in 1938 and the fourth is set in 1957… come on, it’s not hard to understand. That and Sean Connery has made it clear that he’s retired from acting.

People missing Nazis being the bad guys

Yeah, so they featured heavily in the first three films, but considering those were set during the Nazi party’s rise to power and worked off the rumours about Hitler being obsessed with the occult – that made sense. But come on, the fourth film is set in 1957. Nazis aren’t the “bad guys” for the West anymore, it’s all those Communists in Soviet Russia.

I don’t think Spielberg and Lucas could have pulled off Indy and the team stumbling across a sun tanned Hitler in a wheelchair in some plantation in the middle of South America and I’m glad they didn’t go for this angle. Really glad.

Oh Shia...

Shia LaBeouf playing a main character

Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s just a whole bunch of cinema goers out there who happen to seriously dislike Shia LaBeouf as an actor and as a person. Personally, I think he’s been great in everything he’s ever been in and did his best to try and act with what he had to work with in the last two Transformers films.

The character of Mutt is a fine inclusion and gives some much needed youth to a cast that couldn’t have been jumping between Jeeps that well without breaking limbs. In all, the worst thing this character does in the entire film is act impossibly like Tarzan at one point.

Indy ending up in a refrigerator

Probably not something you should do in real life, but it was lead lined so would probably keep Indy’s bollocks from being fried too easily. It’s a plot device that made perfect sense and people who bring it up are truly nitpicking considering the issues with reality the rest of the film has.

People not liking the inter-dimensional beings

What’s less likable about this than the paranormal elements of the previous three films? Oh, it’s beings from another dimension as opposed to a bunch of supernatural beings that are responsible for life, the universe and everything? See one of the badges at the bottom of this blog, this is why I find this complaint pathetic.

Give him the one-two!

Indy doing similar things to what he’s done in the previous three films

Basically people not being able to handle the mixture of quips, impossible action and leaps of faith. All things present in the first three films, which still rate higher.

While George Lucas wasn’t directly responsible for the script of this film, at least the plot makes far more sense than all the prequel Star Wars films put together.

Now, here’s this for a theory: The two films that dealt far more with Judo-Christian beliefs – Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade – are both far more popular than Temple of Doom and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, two films that don’t touch on Judo-Christian beliefs. Could it be that all the disliking is because people don’t like being in unfamiliar supernatural ground? Along with the reasons I’ve listed above, this could be one of the biggies. After all, audiences tend to prefer genre films where they can predict things just that bit more.

You know what, people can continue to hate Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but to me it seems no worse or better than any of the previous three films… well maybe a tad better than Temple of Doom.

And yes, I do know about that episode of South Park.

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6 thoughts on “Finding it hard to understand why people hate Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull so much

  1. When I first saw Indiana Jones 4 at the cinema I deluded myself into believeing that it was a film which stood shoulder to shoulder with the previous three. ‘Temple of Doom’ is by no means perfect, but even it has several elements that make it far more palatable than KOTCS.

    1. Harrison Ford is not past it.
    Indie can somewhat believably tangle with hordes of bad guys and not get out of breath and need a sit down between takes.
    2. Shia Lebouef as the ‘new’ Indie
    It was the fact that Lebouef was clearly being groomed to carry on the franchise which irked me most. I do not remember giving my express permission for this to happen. I don’t care whether he is young and not ‘past it’, he cannot tangle with ANY bad guys and not need immediate surgery between takes.
    3. The Aliens
    The mystical element in the other films (Ark,Stones,Grail) were an integral part of the plots. Indie was looking for these things SPECIFICALLY. The fact that the aliens were sprung on us at the end of Crystal Skull felt like George Lucas’ obsession with special effects had needlessly come into play. It was a convenient deux ex machina, as the aliens ultimately provided the missing exposition to the entire plot, as well as the big effects driven finale.
    4. See reference to George Lucas’ obsession with special effects.

    KOTCS took these elements (believability*, tightly plotted narrative, amazing stunt-work) and discarded them in favour of populist, theme park riding, franchise-lead bull shit.

    *such as it is

  2. I enjoyed it to be fair, not as good as the other Indy’s but still a good outing – the aliens never bothered me that much. I thought the dialogue was typical Indy and to be fair the majority of the storyline did suit the characters to a tee.

  3. I don’t really see them as aliens. The inter-dimensional beings are no weirder than the “religious” beings of the first three films and makes sense if you’ve ever watched anything akin to Stargate.

  4. I enjoyed it too. I’d like to throw in to the mix that it’s not all about the story. There are a growing number of people, even some so called ‘fans’, that are beginning to dislike Spielberg/Lucas, or rather they are jumping on that bandwagon, because of the whole ‘milking the franchise’ problem. The outrage that spread across the internet about the numerous Star Wars re-releases is quite phenomenal, and I think this film was released at a time when SS & GL are generally getting a bad wrap because of that. Great film, great film making and a good blog 🙂

  5. It’s… just… … the monkeys! Ah, the stupid, it hurts, it hurts so!
    Well, to be fair, the movie’s not all that bad. It’s just got a lot more really stupid bits that are distractingly silly.

  6. I’ve heard all these complaints time and again from fridge to interdenominationals, etc, etc… These were not my problems with Crystal Skull; mine are completely focused on Mutt and the problems with having the movie take place in the 50s.

    1) How can you make Indiana Jones a deadbeat dad. Whether or not it’s Indy’s fault or Marion’s fault it’s clearly frustrating and too deep a topic to deal with inside of an Indiana Jones. It forces you to think about all the other Indy girls that must be out there and ask yourself does he have other children. If we put this aside and just focus on Mutt there are still problems.

    2) I agree with Owen Hughes, Shia Lebouf is an unexecptable inheritance for the Jones lineage. We get the first Dr. Jones, Sean Connery-Bad Ass, then the second Dr.Jones, Harrison Ford-Bad Ass, then we get Mutt, Shia Lebouf-Not a Bad Ass or a Doctor. I might accept that Indiana Jones might not have a bad ass son and I could even accept Shia Lebouf as his son but not that Shia Lebouf is bad ass, that is absolutely ridiculous. If Shia Lebouf on the other hand was a purely intellectual departure from Indiana’s thuggery that would have actually been interesting which brings me to the next problem, the era and changing attitudes.

    3) 1957 is a long way from 1938. You can’t just tear up relics and villages, it’s not okay anymore. By 57′ the mantra of the archaeological and anthropological had shifted from “It belongs in museum.” to we need to be good custodians and doing everything in our power to avoid the imperialist methods of the past. Now it’s been years since we’ve seen Indy and he could have decided to grow and accept that it’s not okay to just steal a cultures artifacts whether your American, German or Communist, but that is clearly not the case. Indy has not grown or changed at all since 1938 and neither has the world which must be convenient for him but not accurate.

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