Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008 USA)

After a 19 year wait, Indiana Jones came back to the big screen, hamming it up and continuing his search for rare and wild artifacts that could seriously kill ya. Of course, you shouldn’t go into this thinking its going to be as good or better than Raiders or the Last Crusade. I didn’t expect too much and that is exactly what I got. Not too much, but enough to recommend for all fans of the original three to see. Are the first three the best? Of course. Should they have made this fourth one? Probably not. But in the 21st century that’s not a reasonable answer anymore. Its so hard to find new ideas for an action packed extravaganza.

Not only set in the 50s but also partly filmed like a 50s B-movie. There’s a shift to a more “modern” (compared to the 30s of its predecessors) direction, a bit more mystery, with a new young character, Mutt, partially imitating Marlon Brando. Yet, as before, you get an adventure revolving around an artifact, which is important for the religion of an ancient civilization. And the main characters tie together when facing enemies, tombs, horrible animals and other perils. But what really surprised me was that it looked like it was filmed in the 1980’s; something that’s rare in this Digital Age!!! I’m sure those accustomed to digital film-making may be put off, but it actually works really well and gives the picture an added dose of nostalgia and sense of wonder that Spielberg brought so successfully in his past films.

All those years away did create a lot of serious hype over the Indiana Jones movies, and to tell you the truth, this film lives up to most of it. On the positive side, Harrison Ford is impressively fit (both physically and mentally) as Indy and is every inch as likable now as he was back then. The action sequences are top-notch, and for the most part, done without the infamous CGI. The special effects are very good, and it’s pleasing to see Karen Allen, my personal favourite of the Jones ladies (and for most, I might say), return in this film. The moments of humour are effective, and the movie’s fast pace never lets up for a minute. The plot twist between Indy, Marion, and Mutt (whose real name is Henry Jones III) is a grabber.

On the flip side, the screenplay has a number of gaps and unfinished ideas. First of all, there is almost no back-story shown about what Indy has been through all this time other than spoken dialogue, but most importantly, the Soviets are portrayed in an unfairly stereotypical manner, making them essentially the Nazis of the past films with a hammer and sickle. Cate Blanchett’s character, Irina Spalko, isn’t well written despite the actress’s convincing portrayal, and her Soviet grunts are just stock. Mac (Winstone) makes some great comic relief, but I find his double-triple agent subplot too far-fetched, even for spy-story standards.

This flick reminds me of what action movies are all about: an escape from our everyday routines, plenty of slam-bang, explosions, stunts, exotic locations, the whole shebang. And this film meets all the requirements. Crystal Skull may pale when compared to Raiders and the Last Crusade, but I personally find it nearly equal to the mercilessly dark and gloomy Temple of Doom. The movie may be flawed, but you’ll surely be entertained from the first scene down to the end credits. Originally, Indiana Jones was meant to be a five-picture deal. With this the deal is just one film short of completion. I say nuke the fridge and bring it on!

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