The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have two things in common. First, their title characters’ names both have the letters I-A-N in them. (But they’re pronounced differently: “EE-un” vs. “ee-AN.”) Also, they’re the names of places in the real world. Uh, okay, make that three things. (Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!) Next, they’re both sequels with really long, multi-part titles. Dammit! Four things!
The fourth and final commonality is that in both movies, the main story isn’t really about the title character. (SPOILERS FOLLOW. AND THE COMFY CHAIR!) In Caspian, the one with the most significant story arc is Peter, the oldest of the Pevensie kids, who bites off more than he can chew and nearly loses his way. In Skull, the one driving the story is the Russian dame played by Cate Blanchett, and that kind of dulls the whole show. It’s an enjoyable ride, but if the movie were a video game, you would be playing as Irina Spalko, and Indy et al. would be the NPCs that you have to wheedle to get the information you need to solve the puzzles.
I don’t want this post to be excessively spoiler-rific, but I will say that the third act does go off the rails. A lot of the plot twists and obstacles were rather gratuitous, there’s a chase scene that goes on way too long, and I had major issues with some of the cinematography toward the end: there’s one shot which just makes no sense at all, story-wise. It’s particularly disappointing because the opening sequence has some classic Spielberg cinematography, and I was expecting a lot more of it. He’s really got to stop hanging out with that Lucas guy so much.*
Finally, I can’t be the only one who was continually distracted by how much Caspian‘s Ben Barnes looks like Timothy Olyphant from Deadwood:
* An imaginary conversation:
“Let’s do everything with green-screen!”
“Uh… You know, we actually did pay Harrison a lot of money to be in this picture. I mean, as himself. With his own face and all.”
“We can make him look twenty years younger! It’ll be a prequel!“
“Look, I don’t want to have to stage another intervention for you, George.”