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In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg sent Indy riding off into the sunset as a perfect ending to the trilogy. And in watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it becomes very obvious that this is where Spielberg wanted Indy to stay. He even admits to this in one of the interviews found on the Crystal Skull DVD. He had no intention of ever making this movie, but the constant pressure from fans and even George Lucas finally had him accepting the inevitable. Indiana Jones was going on another adventure.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad movie. In fact, it’s thoroughly entertaining and as technically impressive as you’d expect. It’s just very by the numbers. Indy lumbers his way from one set-piece to the next, and while these moments are mostly pretty exciting they don’t all do a whole lot to enhance the story.
While the original films were firmly grounded in the serialized storytelling of the 30’s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg decided to place this one in the intentionally campy B-Movie world of the 50’s. It’s an interesting choice, and one that definitely divided the fans. Personally I found it kind of interesting, but I can understand why people took issue with certain elements of the story (I’m trying to avoid giving specifics, but once you see the movie you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to).
In creating this world, Spielberg’s team was in top form. During production, we were promised minimal CGI, and almost all practical effects-work. And while there is more CGI than we were led to believe, the practical work is amazing. Beautifully detailed on a huge scale, these are some of the most impressive sets I’ve ever seen.
The DVD contains a riveting “Production Diary” which documents the day-to-day shooting of the entire film. It’s a real treat to watch Spielberg at work. We see what went into making every set, the big stunts, the big effects, etc. Personally, I found the making of the film more fun than the film itself.
There are also the usual Pre-Visualization sequences, art and photo galleries, mini-documentaries on various subjects, etc. It won’t be remembered as fondly as the others, but it’s still an Indian Jones movie, and it holds its own as one. All in all, it’s a solid package definitely worth owning if you’re a fan and worth at least a rental if you’re not.