A Crystal Skull & A Third Black

Last night I found myself watching a film on network television for the first time over this Christmas… right at the end of the festive season. Which is sort of sounding the death-knell of the old tradition of picking out festive treats to watch in the Radio Times. Its all redundant now; films-wise at least, films are Blu-rays or streaming these days. Why put up with adverts on commercial channels or suffer the vagaries of time-slots and scheduling? Oh well, there’s another childhood tradition dead in the water.

So I ended up watching last nights broadcast of Indiana Jones & Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the much-maligned and currently final entry in the Indiana Jones series. I can well understand the hate for this film, but I’ve actually always had a soft spot for this movie, if only because I’ll always get a kick out of watching Harrison Ford doing what he does best, in one of his iconic roles, with a rousing John Williams score- the kind of film soundtrack we don’t get to hear much of in films these days. Of course in many ways its a fairly shambolic film but I enjoy it nonetheless. I enjoy its 1950s cold war and Ancient Aliens storyline. I don’t enjoy the over-use of CGI (it just goes to show even Spielberg isn’t immune) which is ageing this film worse than the earlier Indiana Jones films.

mib3Immediately after Crystal Skull I had the misfortune to watch Men In Black 3. Here’s another film franchise well past its sell-by date given one sequel too many. I was never a fan of the MIB series, somehow I was always immune to their charm but this third entry was just an appalling cash-grab. Usually I can watch any film more than once, but having seen this, well, one time is certainly enough and I have no wish to suffer any of this film again.  It occurs to me though that the film must have its fans (and I’m told it was fairly well received) which puts me at odds with public opinion yet again- indeed, immediately after me professing my fondness for Crystal Skull, a film universally disliked if you consider the internet a reliable indication of public opinion. What the hell, I guess it just comes down to personal taste and my fondness of its nods to earlier, better films. I never liked any MIB film, so its references to MIB 1 & 2 might amuse fans but leave me nonplussed.

How to judge a movie after all? I guess even the worst movies have their fans (and some of us like some movies precisely because they are bad, i.e. my own love for Lifeforce). I suspect that the best way to judge a movie might be over time. My own ongoing series of Fifty Great Films has made me consider this when thinking of and rewatching fifty films I consider ‘great’. But then again, a film might not age well through no fault of its own, which isn’t to suggest it was bad back when it was made, its just that people/society/film technology has moved on and left it behind. I’m a big fan of the Hammer Horror films, chiefly because of their effect on me when I saw them as  kid, but I appreciate that people watching them for the first time now might think them old-fashioned, even quaint or redundant.

4 thoughts on “A Crystal Skull & A Third Black

  1. I found myself watching “Raiders” when it was on – only for about 20 minutes, but weirdly revelling in the almost-forgotten feeling of watching a favourite film on daytime TV, [in]complete with all the little bits of violence and swearing censored here and there. It must be Christmas!

    And I also caught the end of “MIB3″, which I have to admit to quite liking. It helps that my wife and I saw it one night in a ramshackle open-air cinema in Greece a few years back, [and that we were drinking beer watching it on a warm night] but it didn’t feel cynical or greedy at all. I mean, I’d never watch it again, but I liked it, it felt good-natured.

    Whereas, ‘Crystal Skull” is something I’ll always avoid. I saw it once in the cinema: it made no impression whatsoever at the time, but whenever I see bits of it on TV it looks terrible – set-bound, fakey and plasticky, and just a terrible dated mess. But then, I haven’t liked an IJ film since “Temple Of Doom”; Back in ’89 “Last Crusade” did nothing for me, it felt like a faded copy of “Raiders” – a real step back from the lunatic brilliance of “Temple”.

    Quick question: you’ve been hitting all the big blockbusters of the year in the last week or so: had you saved these to watch at Christmas? To make up for the lack of Radio Times-ness that you mention? Is it a substitute for the Christmas movie feeling of old? I went to see “STT:TMP” the other week at the NFT for exactly that reason. Trumbull light-shows feel Christmassy to me.

  2. ‘Crystal’ is a bad film, don’t get me wrong, its just that its fun to see Harrison as Indy again after so long. No doubt there will be similar feelings seeing the Millenium Falcon again in the next Star Wars film. I saw ‘Temple’ on an Indy Blu-ray binge last Feb and really enjoyed it, more than I ever had before.

    Regards the blockbusters I’ve been hitting, its Christmas presents and the welcome spin-off of having, yes, old-style Radio Times Christmas goodness, having some big-hitters to watch in the light of the Christmas tree. I have the Sin City 2 disc to watch yet and the Filmed in Supermarionation set too for a special Gerry Anderson night.

    Bet ST:TMP was good. Those interior Vger shots with the Enterprise all lit-up, lovely!

  3. I know I’m very much in the minority, but I quite like Crystal Skull. I mean, it’s riddled with issues, mostly the overuse of weak CGI (especially all the green screen the jungle chase), and it’s not as good as the originals, but looking past that I think it’s pretty solid. Perhaps it’s just, as you say, good to see Ford back as Indy.

    1. Ford is something special isn’t he? I cannot imagine any other male actor of his generation being as good as he is in such iconic roles as Han Solo or Indiana Jones. He just has such a charisma with the camera, it looks so effortless. The young actors playing heroes these days are so inferior. I just wish Crystal Skull had been made a decade or so earlier- Ford would have been younger and there would have been much less CGI. And surely there would have been better actors to play his son…

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