A Spoiler-Filled Rant About Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

• Seriously, a horde of helpful monkeys swinging with Shia LaBeouf through the jungle? The fact that Shia LaBeouf swung from vine to fine in the first place?• Indy survived a nuclear blast by hiding inside a fridge, and was completely fine after that? And why was there a jokey reaction shot to a prairie dog? • Marion Ravenwood comes back and gets zero time to be a character? I don't know what's worse, squandering Karen Allen or ruining the memory of the relationship Marion built with Indy in Raiders of the Lost Ark. They had so much time in that movie to spend together on screen, building chemistry, but in the new film she just shows up and they trade some really awful zingers that don't at all sound like them, and then they're back in love. • I get that Indy doesn't like snakes, but he's not terrified of them. At the beginning of Raiders, when his pilot buddy flies him out of danger, he only freaks out for a minute at the snake coiled at his feet before his terror just turns to anger at having the snake there in the first place. Even in the chamber holding the Ark, he puts up with the snakes well enough to set them on fire and rescue Marion. All that to say: Having him act like a baby and refuse to grab hold of a snake that he can use to get out of a sandpit seemed weak, and having him insist that Marion and Mutt refer to the snake as a rope was just lamentable. • Way too much dependence on CGI. Special effects are tools to tell a story; form cannot drive function. The whole film felt rubbery and unmoving and cold because of the huge emphasis on greater and greater scenes of CGI effects. (And let's not forget the prairie dogs and monkeys.) • Aliens? Really? When Irina tells Indy that the skull was not made by human hands, he responds with a skeptical, "Come on." That's exactly how I felt. Indiana Jones has always existed in a heightened, pulpy universe as a hero questing after man-made objects imbued with supernatural gifts. (The reason Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade felt so much better than Temple of Doom is because the story returned to the format of Indy fighting the Nazis for control of a Christian historical artifact.) But these religious objects, whether the Ark of the Covenant or the ugly stones from that Indian village, were always tangible, believable things. Having the crystal skulls belong to aliens does away with all that, and what's worse, it turns the film from an adventure into a (really) bad sci-fi rip-off. The plot was just flat-out ludicrous.