The Most Disappointing Film on TV this Week

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008, Steven Spielberg)

It was a letdown from the first shot. I had waited nearly 20 years to see what Spielberg’s next transition from the Paramount mountain logo would involve. And as the screen dissolved to the opening image, I was hit straight in the retina with the unmistakable sight of…a fucking rodent. (Apparently a prairie dog for anyone interested.) Initially this might seem like a reasonable visual gag, playing on an unexpected switch in scale – big mountain, small animal. But it just didn’t seem in keeping with the other three films. The original trilogy was always comic, but here we were being offered a total cartoon.

Things did not improve from there… Harrison Ford’s croaky voice. Shia LaBeouf’s existence. And most of the action isn’t up to much. There is one good sequence – the motorbike/car chase in and around the university campus – but, otherwise, the film is a succession of disappointments. Cate Blanchett is a great actor but not one per cent scary as a villain. Ray Winstone and John Hurt are embarrassing.

And couldn’t Lucas and Spielberg have just committed to making the creature things aliens, instead of ‘inter-dimensional beings’? Most viewers thought they were aliens anyway. Some people didn’t like the introduction of a sci-fi element at all, but I don’t see this as a problem per se. It fits with the film being set in the 1950s, a time when alien invasion films were all the rage.

As the film neared its conclusion – and I had to avert my eyes from the sight of old Shia fencing with some Russians on a moving tank – I thought things couldn’t get any worse. Then the final scene completed the tragedy. SPOILER ALERT (for people who give a toss about that kind of thing): Indiana Jones gets married. Married?! MARRIED?! He’s Indiana Jones for fuck’s sake. That’s like James Bond getting married.

Sometime later I awoke in the night convinced my memory of the film was just the remains of a bad dream. I was wrong.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Bollock is showing tonight, 8.05pm BBC 3 (Is that a real channel?)

Sam Bowles

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