Though I saw it on opening night, the only thing I can add to the millions of reviews in the week since its release is: What did you expect? Maybe people felt betrayed by the trailer (which I dutifully avoided), but it seems the general consensus is that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an inoffensive but otherwise fluffy failure that doesn't belong in the same conversation as the original trilogy. To which I say, again, what did you expect?
Unfortunately, this is the state we're in. Right around 2000, Hollywood figured out that, along with comic book movies, all they needed to do was continue to churn out sequels upon sequels and people would show up at the theater. And they were correct, as six of last year's top ten highest-grossing films were follow-ups to earlier movies. I can't put my finger on exactly when my expectations of these sequels dropped to near zero, but it's greatly helped me get my past my disappointment when a highly anticipated installment, like this one, fails to fully recapture the magic of its predecessors. In other words, I've wised up since The Phantom Menace. It's a sad way to see a movie, but it's necessary to avoid heartbreak.
So, Crystal Skull. It wasn't great but I got what I hoped for: Harrison Ford throwing sick two-handed punches (my favorite part of every Indy movie), everybody saying silly lines, at least one booby-trapped cave expedition, and John Williams' score. Additional positives were Shia LaBeouf (4 spelling tries there) proving that he's still one my favorite young actors, and my sister excitedly watching a terrific chase scene filmed at her alma mater. The big negatives were, of course, a completely ridiculous (even eye roll-inducing) plot and a stilted performance by Cate Blanchett, who appeared to to take this Oscar-seriously. Sure, it would have been nice to have an interesting and/or believable reason for Indy to take off to Peru, but the lack of one didn't ruin it for me because there were enough familiar elements to appreciate. It wasn't as warm and cozy as home (Raiders), but it felt like hanging out at a good friend's house.