i have no particularly deep connection to the original three movies; i feel this needs to be out there in the spirit of a disclaimer. i saw them sometime around high school; enjoyed them; owned them; wasn't inordinately attached to them; and haven't watched any of them in quite a while. my favorite was always temple of doom but that could have been as much out of a sense of stubbornness because no-one else seemed to like that one as much as any genuine feeling of liking it!
spoilers below. probably.
the fourth was fun. it was silly and flashy and fun. it wasn't as good as the original three. there were some great moments and, since marion ravenwood was always my favorite "indy girl," i was delighted to see her back and still willing to slap indy in the face for being an idiot. cate blanchett clearly had a hell of a time being a black-dyed baddie; her accent came from nowhere and was almost totally unidentifiable -- full points to her! ray winstone ditto; i'm not exactly sure whether he was meant to be a good guy gone bad or a bad guy gone good or a good guy gone bad trying to be good or maybe even a bad guy gone good but not quite convinced or what, but it really doesn't matter. shia laboeuf was a slightly puzzling addition to the cast list, but he and ford bounced off each other really well and, in the end, the american nuclear family triumphs again! it's a shame that indy, sr. apparently will no longer be "whinnying with us" if they make -- as i hear they might -- a fifth movie in the series.
it was also a nice touch to memorialize denholm elliott's character from the original trilogy; marcus would have probably been very embarrassed by a huge statue of himself in the middle of the college campus, but i thought it was rather sweet. i always liked marcus and i was sad when denholm elliott died.
it felt a little frustrating that the end of the story was "aliens did it!" but since the end of temple of doom was "gods did it!" and the end of last crusade was "the apostles did it!", i guess it's sort of in line with tradition after all. they were certainly really freakin' cool aliens; i liked their neutrality. despite a passing resemblance to the actual one-and-only alien, they clearly had a different agenda and seemed, for aliens in a blockbuster action flick, strangely non-violent. even in the end, they don't so much act to defend or revenge themselves as they offer a gift and they give it. it isn't their fault -- so much -- that the gift makes blanchett's brain bubble.
i can't say that i had a lot of deeply profound thoughts about this movie; it was flashy popcorn fun. it was a little disappointing as a next entry after last crusade which i always felt was a strong final note in the trilogy, but it didn't ruin the previous movies as, say, the matrix sequels or x3 come really freakin' close to doing.