Nov 21, 2019
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), a recap (part 6 of 8)
Previously: Indiana Jones, Marion from the first movie, their son, a crystal skull, John Hurt, aliens, Russians, the Amazon, RPGs, and an amphibious jeep.
Indy, Marion and Mutt all bail out of their truck into a WWII-era Ford GPA. It’s a jeep that’s also a boat. The military stopped using it because it was bad at being either, and only marginally more successful at being both. For the sake of completeness, Dovchenko, the huge Russian, comes to after being kicked in the head and grabs the wheel of the abandoned truck. So when you see him later, you won’t have to be all like, “Didn’t that guy die?”
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Indy now drives the boatjeep onto a conveniently parallel road through the jungle. That makes sense. Never cut through the rainforest to make one path when you can make two right next to each other for double the effort. Spalko opens fire on them with what I’m just going to assume is an AK-47. The other jeep full of Russians also fires at them. Despite being less than five yards away, they hit absolutely none of the three people they’re aiming at. They also hit none of the boatjeep’s tires, or any other part of the thing that might break when shot.
The reason I know they’re less than five yards away is that Indy stands up, gives Marion the wheel, and jumps into the Russians’ vehicle. The world record for a standing broad jump is a little over 12 feet. I have no idea what the world record for a standing boatjeep jump is.
As generally happens with these soldiers, the second Indy jumps, they become one panicked mass of idiots. They abandon their weapons, and each of them, in the back of a moving car, wait their turn to be punched by Harrison Ford. Mac, the British guy who handed Indy over to the Russians to begin with, is happy to see him. Upon waiting his turn, he gets punched in the face as well.
Jones has now ejected most of the Russians from the car, and is driving with one hand while putting Mac in a headlock with the other. Mac chokes out that he is… sigh… CIA. He’s a double agent.
Dammit, movie. Mac’s a double agent? He handed Indy over to the Russians twice. Once again, the Russians were nowhere without Indiana Jones. They couldn’t find Akator. They couldn’t make sense out of Oxley’s gibberish. They couldn’t even get the crystal skull to work. Mac brought all those pieces together for them. Does Dwight Eisenhower know about any of this?
In the back of the boatjeep, Mutt has found a stash of Doctor Colonel Spalko’s swords. She travels with an assortment of swords.
One of the Russians in Indy’s jeep throws the skull to Spalko in a last act of heroism. She now has the skull and at least a vague idea as to the location of Akator. She takes her eyes off the fight, which gives Mutt the perfect opportunity to roar up next to her and grab the skull right out of her hands.
Spalko draws her sword and she and Mutt duel… while standing in moving jeeps. (Technically, Mutt is on the bow of a boatjeep, but you get the idea.)
What follows is a swordfight between a twenty year-old greaser who took fencing at some point and a professional Russian officer who carries a sword with her at all times. Marion, relegated to driving, criticizes her son’s stance. Indy, in the other jeep, smiles with pride.
The fight is well-choreographed, I guess. The vehicles move apart and come back together. Spalko spears the bag holding the skull and gets it back. Mutt jumps over to her jeep and they fight there. He ends up with one foot on each vehicle when they start drifting apart, and Mutt’s stance gets wider and wider. Various bits of foliage thwack against his shmeckle. He continues fighting with one hand while holding his crotch with the other.
Marion is pretty much irrelevant to the plot in this scene, and I don’t think she gets any more relevant for the rest of the movie. I have to give Steven “That Was Amy Adams” Spielberg credit for making her the love interest. She was 56 when this movie was shot. That’s only nine years younger that Harrison Ford. By comparison, Alison Doody from Last Crusade is 24 years younger, and Anne Heche from Six Days, Seven Nights is 28 years younger. So #Feminism, I guess?
Indy (with Mac and Oxley in his jeep) smashes into Spalko and her guy, causing them to sideswipe Marion and Mutt. Everybody else has tagged out. The sudden jolt throws Mutt into the back of Spalko’s jeep and Spalko into the back of Marion’s. The two women panic when they see each other. Marion hits the brakes and Spalko goes flying through the windshield.
This would normally kill just about anybody, but this is an Indiana Jones movie, so Spalko is not only able to hang on to the front of the boatjeep, but climb up it and fire the mounted machine gun at nothing in particular.
Mutt, meanwhile, has the skull. The Russian driving this jeep attempts to fight him for it without slowing down. Why, dude? There’s no strong reason for you to be chasing anyone. Just stop the car and shoot him. Maybe some of those other Russian guys will catch up to you.
Instead, Marion attempts to ram Mutt’s car in what I think is an attempt to kill Spalko, who’s still holding onto the hood. She fails spectacularly, as Spalko is thrown back into her own jeep with the skull. She and Mutt proceed to have a fistfight in the back of the vehicle. And look, Russian dude, there really is no reason for you to be driving anymore. You’ve got the Colonel and you’ve got the skull. Let Indy and Marion’s stunt driver get away.
Spalko throws some karate chops and kicks at Mutt, and finally punches him so hard that he flies out and lands on the hood of Indy’s jeep. I don’t know where Marion is. The cars keep trading places. In any case, Spalko and her one henchman, now in possession of the skull, try to speed away. Mutt yells at Indiana, “What are you looking at, daddy-o? She’s getting away!”
Just as Mutt is about to jump back into Spalko’s car, he get caught in an overhanging vine. The jeeps all go speeding off without him. This would be fine with me, but Steven “Let’s Trap Tom Hanks in an Airport” Spielberg has other ideas.
Mutt comes face to face with a monkey. It’s not the same one as in Raiders, although I’m sure you’ll agree that would have been awesome. Mutt looks up and sees the trees are filled with monkeys; dozens of them. Mutt grabs hold of a vine and begins (sigh) swinging through the jungle. He’s swinging from vine to vine like Tarzan. And I have a long list of complaints:
- Mutt magically goes from about eight feet in the air to the thirty or so it would take to swing effectively.
- He’s swinging with the same forward velocity as a moving car.
- Both Shia LaBeouf and the monkeys have been replaced by computer-generated cartoons of Shia LaBeouf and monkeys.
- Why the hell can’t Marion stop and pick him up? She has completely disappeared from the movie.
- Did I mention the CGI?
The Indy car is now chasing Spalko’s jeep along the side of a steep cliff face. It’s very precarious, as Mac points out. Spalko smiles as she tries to ram the other car and says, “Do svidaniya, Dr. Jones.” It’s the same as the line “Goodbye, Dr. Jones,” from Temple of Doom. You know you’re watching a bad movie when it compares unfavorably to Temple of Goddamned Doom.
Just as Spalko is about to sideswipe Indy’s jeep, Mutt swings in and kicks her in the head. The monkeys, having quickly been brought up to speed on the situation, jump into the jeep and savagely attack Spalko and her henchperson. Mutt grabs the skull and jumps into Indy’s boatjeep.
Spalko is fighting monkeys. She hurls one out of the car but it’s okay because a) it’s a monkey, and b) it’s not real. Indy and Mutt take a moment to appreciate each other’s skill in doing whatever the hell that just was. In doing so, Indy crashes the boatjeep into a rock. Spalko comes hurtling towards them, jumping their jeep and crashing her own.
Everybody piles out, only to find Spalko aiming a pistol at them. The monkeys, as per monkey union rules, wander off. Spalko looks determined, but she starts to shake a little. I kind of hoped this was some sort of psychic after-effect of the skull, because that would make a little bit of sense. But it’s not, because she’s being bitten by an ant.
And what an ant it is! It’s the size of a modest one-bedroom in Tribeca, and it’s accompanied by a good billion of its friends.
Indy, Mac, Ox, and Mutt all run away as Spalko and her henchguy are overtaken by ants. Suddenly, a truck full of Russians roars up, apparently led by Dovchenko. So filling in the gaps, he grabbed the wheel of the truck way back at the beginning of the chase scene, and he’s been picking up stranded Russian soldiers like a demented bus driver this whole time.
Dovchenko jumps from the truck and tackles all four good guys at once. Is Mac a good guy now? I guess so. Indy fights him while shouting at the other three to get to the river because ants can’t swim, except when they can.
Mutt and Mac run. They leave Oxley and the crystal skull just lying on the ground. So what was Mac’s plan again? Because if it was to get the skull to Akator for the glory of the Eisenhower administration, he just bailed the second he saw ants.
Oxley, seeing a wall of ants about to overtake him, takes the skull out of the bag and… shows it to the ants. Quite reasonably, they all part and run not just around the skull, but around Oxley as well. So you can add to magnetism and hypnotism the fact the skull is also good at pest control.
In fact, the monkeys appear to have filled in the entire ant community on the whole Communism thing, because the insects pick a side and stay with it. They run around Oxley and keep their distance from Indy. They chase Spalko, who climbs a vine to get away from them. They even make an ant ladder to reach her. If ants had a space program, this would be it. She then Apollo 1’s them by killing the top ant. (What? Too soon?)
Dovchenko and Indiana have a rousing fistfight while the foley guy goes nuts with punching sounds. At one point, Indy loses his fedora, and I just have to mention that the ants go around the hat. Finally, Indy knocks Dovchenko over. The second he hits the ground, well, this happens:
At this point, Marion drives up in her boatjeep to pick up Mutt and Mac. Indy grabs Oxley, his hat, and the skull (remember that thing?) and jumps in. She then accelerates towards the cliff, because of course she does. They drive off like Thelma, or possibly Louise, depending on which one was driving.
Because this is an Indiana Jones movie, the boatjeep lands in a tree, which (having learned about the plot from the ants) obligingly bends and deposits them gently into the river. They happily float away from the Russians, ending this madness, at least for at least a little bit.
Next up: The terrible CGI is over. The madness continues.