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“Must escape.”

Last month, we posted about an alleged, albeit totes sketchy, early first review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which called it “the best of the Indy sequels.” Well, the film recently screened and reviews are beginning to trickle in. Umm, they are not positive at all. Update: a new one is positive, summarized here at the end. AICN received three today, one heavy on the “it sucks” and spoilers, the other basically saying, “Yeah, that first guy who said the movie sucks? I see where he’s coming from.” The latest says it’s a worthy addition and brings a smile. Here are some lowlights from the second review

  • it doesn’t totally suck, the sequel is just “unnecessary”
  • everything about the film is “bloated” and Spielberg/Lucas try way too hard.
  • it doesn’t feel like Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford may as well be Harvey Keitel or Booger
  • too much unnecessary, analytical dialogue a la the prequels
  • Cate Blanchett’s is the “least interesting” of the franchise’s villains
  • it’s a weak retread, but the reviewer didn’t “hate it”

But the first review out and out rips it…here’s a spoiler-free recap, spoilers after the jump

  • “this is the Indiana Movie that you were dreading”
  • compares it to…Allen Quatermain…, the Indy knockoff, ouch
  • perilous moments lack tension (this is a recurring criticism thus far)
  • sets switch jarringly from outdoors to indoors. “jungle looks like plastic.”
  • LaBeouf is “horrible,” a crybaby, and receives too much sappy “adulation” from Indy
  • Ford has “a few lines that work and a million that don’t” and never seems in danger, duress
  • end point: fanboys’ charges of “child hood memory molestation” against Lucas will explode once again

UPDATE: Now a third review has popped up. Surprise, it’s positive…

  • Crystal Skull is the 3rd best in the franchise, can’t top Raiders (duh)
  • best chase scene of all the movies
  • Shia was “just fine,” acting is “good across the board”
  • snake scene is way too slapstick (recurring criticism)
  • ending leaves something to be desired, but PLEASE not a fifth film
  • Ranks it third after Raiders and Temple of Doom, and before Last Crusade (Peter says WTF, but that’s my original trilogy order as well :P).
  • “Spielberg magic” is present
  • “people will be mixed.”
  • “Pretty. Damn. Good.”

Peter and I are in a disagreement as far as expectations go. While I don’t expect Crystal Skull to be as perfect as Raiders, if the film is tonally and structurally off as to be the Rocky V of the series, I will be pissed. If I glance at the four Indy movies in a DVD box-set later on and want to habitually shed it down to three, I will be pissed. Peter says he expects the film to be the Live Free or Die Hard of the franchise, but to me, that would be a travesty (proportionally speaking, of course).

After all of the time spent working to perfect the film’s script (after Darabont was left in the cold), the years of early hype, and the fact that Spielberg/Lucas are tinkering with one of the great franchises of all time, why set your standards low? I’m not sure what has happened on the Internet as of late as far as geek movie culture, but the “well it was pretty good and that’s fine” reigns supreme. I’d like to be able to think of one American popcorn franchise that consistently got it right and ended on a high note (not a “good if you’re an ’80s baby” way), and more and more, we’re seeing great records tarnished.

Alright, for you sickos out there, spoilers after the jump…

Discuss: Will Crystal Skull end up being recognized as the despised runt of the Indy Jones franchise? Will talking heads on VH-1 be cracking jokes about it in five years? Are you setting your expectations low or do expect nothing less than a homerun a la Iron Man and The Dark Knight?

SPOILERS

  • no Abner Ravenwood
  • the warehouse is Area 51
  • the Ark is shown therein, but it’s not central to the plot
  • an alien corpse resulting from a crash in Roswell that possesses magnetic powers seen as the ultimate weapon of the future is central
  • the alien’s skeleton is “actually crystalline”
  • Mutt Williams is Indy’s son, Indy dotes on him a lot
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