I'm going to spoil this for you. Don't go see it.
I'm serious. If you love Indiana Jones movies, just forget this was made. Ignore the commercials, walk away from friends who talk about it. Go see Iron Man, wait for Dark Knight. Just pretend in your heart that this was never made.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starts off in 1957 with an army convoy being teased by a joyriding hotrod full of loose girls and testosterone addled boys. The obvious nod to American Graffiti convinces the lead car to race and after, seriously, five minutes of racing, they are no farther in front of the convoy. A few CGI groundhogs later, the convoy pulls off into Area 51 where the guards say they aren't allowed in. The Russians in disguise mow down the guards, head to a hanger (which has all the wrong points of fact about it) and dump Indy and his voice dub along with a really poorly acted Aussie friend in front of a PsyOps Ukranian (Blanchett). They plod and poke through some heinous un-Indiana dialog until they find what they need and then Indy can escape.
By the way, it IS the same hanger the Ark is in and yes that's the Ark in that box, in case you missed the completely obvious throw back moments. More to come.
He makes his way to a rocket sled where he fights the guy from Rocky 4, they trip the controls (as per usual) and the rocket sled simultaneously fries half the Russians and launches Indy and his sparring partner into the night air. It was really only about noon when they went into the hangar, apparently all this took 8 hours.
Indy bumbles his way to an A-Bomb test site where he has the presence of mind to shove himself into a lead-lined fridge to escape the blast unharmed. The fridge is launched to a safe distance (the only piece of mock furniture to do so) and the only ramification to his incident is having a comical rub down by the radiation/car wash guys back at HQ where Janitor from Scrubs plays the second half of an unbelievable FBI duo. Indy is rescued from interrogation by a high ranking friend who leads us to believe he's been a spy and served the US. government enough to earn medals.
*sigh* Back to the quilt of a story, then. Dr. Jones returns to his school where he's fired. What they miss here is he's fired because they're worried he's a Commie sympathizer. I don't think either Spielberg or Lucas know how to deal with anyone but Nazis so their writing around this point is sadly circular and mushy. If you aren't a student of Murrow or basic history, you'd lose this fact entirely as though George and Steve were sitting around trying to come up with a reason to get him fired. "Hey, let's say everyone thinks he's a pinko-bastard and get back to the CGI groundhogs."
Indy is found by Mutt (I shit you not) Williams (LeBouf) as he's trolling the train station platform looking like James Dean, bike and all. How you get a hog onto a train platform is anyone's guess. There's some dialog heavy scenes with Mutt and Indy, they ride Mutt's bike (Indy riding bitch) through campus ending up in the library with a really, REALLY bad falling movement with one of Indy's students.
Indy and Mutt then go on a quest to find this crystal skull which either is or is not in Peru, I couldn't tell. They find it after fighting either 20 or just 1 crazed poison dart blowing local (again, I couldn't tell.) They find an alien skull made of single cut crystal and assume it's an artifact. It's magnetic, but also attracts gold. That was never explained but Mutt does say, "Gold's not magnetic." Right! So why does it attract it? Oh, well we don't know and we aren't going to bother figuring out. Hey, did you see our CGI water fall?
More chase scenes to follow, John Hurt shows up to throw his career away as a crazy old archaeological colleague of Indy's who's lost his mind after Spalko (Blanchett) has made him stare at the skull too long. So at this point the skull is either magnetic or psionic, but we're not sure if it's both.
More chases through a jungle. A giant Russian pathfinder resplendent in buzz saws and chewing wheels leads a convoy through the undergrowth. Indy, newly found Marion Ravenwood (yes, that Marion) beat up the one guard in the truck and find a rocket launcher (which you keep in the back of the prisoner truck) and blow up the pathfinder. Then a car chase ensues on paved jungle. Apparently they only needed the giant buzz-saw tank for a few miles. Mutt fights Spalko with a sword while jungle plants slap his balls, he's separated from everyone until he finds some monkeys. He then Tarzan's back into the fray. Not one swing, mind you, but several dozen. Enough to that he was able to catch up with speeding army vehicles. The fight ends up on a football field sized ant hill crawling with a very industrious and nigh-impossible species of giant ant. They eat a couple red-shirted reds while everyone else escapes over a cliff, and why not, they've been driving amphibious jeeps.
After three plummets down waterfalls, the final one making me giggle as it looked like the opening of Land of the Lost, all the good guys, and the double-but-not-quite-double-crossing Aussie make it to a set of ruins. They figure some puzzles, are set upon by a group of guardian warriors who apparently live in these remote temples buried in the walls for years on end and eventually make it to the central piece which is a room with twelve crystal skeletons...*guh*...ALIEN skeletons. Spalko puts the skull back on the one skeleton and shit starts happening.
Indy, Marion, "Ox" (Hurt) and Mutt all escape but here's what happens. The skeletons merge into a living alien. Spalko says she wants to know, she's on a quest for knowledge. It's actually a redeeming quality to this "bad guy" that I didn't quite get. Anycrap, the now alive alien makes a mean face and her eyes catch fire and she disintegrates, her bits sucked into a dimensional portal. The room is spinning and as we go outside to see our hapless heroes we see the whole temple is spinning because underneath it is a giant, functional flying saucer. It disappears, leaving the Amazon to flow into the hole. Indy giggles about walking through the jungle at dark.
Marion and Jones get married and he's named the Dean of Archaeological studies. Mutt (Henry Jones, III, swear) almost puts on Indy's hat.
I don't know if there's much more I can say about this movie that the really, really bad story doesn't. Indiana Jones wasn't charming. Marion wasn't feisty. Mutt wasn't bad, really, but he was far from wonderful. The editing was slow, scenes dragged on for far too long and the whole thing went from suspension of disbelief to suspension of sanity and morality. There wasn't music when there should have been, there was too much scenery and too many places. Indy never said he was there to get Marion (because she had been captured, mind you, that's why Mutt sought out Indy in the first place) and instead of the protagonist, he became a bystander. Instead of kick-ass Indiana Motherfucking Jones, he became Scooby, C-3PO, Falstaff. He was a witness to events someone else set aside for him to fall into. When made to look smart, he was nerdy smart, not street smart. When made to look tough, he was accidental and stooped.
I'm so heartbroken by this I don't know what to do. It's not that it wasn't as good as Raiders, it was worse than Temple of Doom. It was worse than Howard the Duck. Whatever parts that held any entertainment value were immediately snuffed by a shitty edit, a bad continuity cut, a childish bit of CGI or a poorly delivered line. Whoever wrote Indy's lines made him seem vindictive and simple.
Honestly, I should have known better. If you're younger than, say, 25 and haven't seen this movie yet NOR have you seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, please, please, PLEASE don't go see this. Buy Raiders on DVD or BluRay or whatever and just watch that. Raiders was awesome. Crystal Skull was awful.
I'm watching Raiders while I write this in the hopes that I forget tonight ever happened.
As much I detest anonymous (see: chickenshit) comments telling me I'm stupid, I will at least provide the factual correction. Mutt's opening scene is supposed to be reminiscent of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, not James Dean. Not having ever seen The Wild One, I guess that was more than just an honest mistake. I guess I really am dumb.
I will not apologize for thinking Winstone (an English actor) was trying give the character of McHale an Australian accent. Not having visited the Wiki page where the characters nationality was listed, I was going off the very poor acting of Winstone to make this determination.
Look, if your defending this movie by calling me stupid, I feel really bad for you. I hope it makes you like this movie more, it certainly doesn't for me.