Reel Shorts | Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

21 05 2008

After almost twenty years, superstar Harrison Ford dons his famous fedora one more time in a fitting swan song in the fourth installment of the highly popular (and profitable) “Indiana Jones” franchise. His latest effort, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” gives audiences a chance to ride with Indy for one last glorious adventure.

This film begins in 1957, 19 years since “The Last Crusade” and our hero is up to the same old tricks. While excavating in Mexico, he is kidnapped by the Russians and brought to Area 51 to help uncover a new mystery. Led by Soviet scientist, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), the Soviets need Indy’s help to locate a mysterious artifact. After discovering an alien-like, metallic figure, Jones is double-crossed by a close associate and narrowly escapes a nuclear blast.

Back at school, Dr. Jones is pulled from class and told that the Feds have accused him of Communist activities. Soon he teams up with a “Wild Bunch”-esque rebel, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who has a message from a former colleague, Dr. Oxley (John Hurt) who has turned up missing. In addition, Jones finds out that his long-lost love, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) has also been abducted. Between jokes about Indy’s age and the obvious generational gap, the two slowly but steadily establish a bond which will come in handy later in the story. Indy must solve a riddle written in a dead language if he has any chance of saving his friends. In addition to following clues, he must also stay one step of the pesky Soviets.

Where “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” works best in its quiet and reflective moments. After being placed on leave, Indy pines for the support of his father (Sean Connery), who the story tells us has died several years earlier. No longer able to do some of the things that he did in earlier films, Indy relies on his young co-star to carry much of the film’s physical action. That doesn’t mean that our fedora wearing friend is still not on top of his game.

After locating a solid crystal skull, Jones, Oxley and Mutt must solve the mysterious of its origin and the answer will be Indy’s greatest adventure. In the midst of intense action scenes, there are sacred artifacts, family secrets – and aliens.

Director Steven Spielberg and Producer George Lucas create a film that pays homage to one of Hollywood’s most endearing characters and also gives him a fitting send-off that effectively closes the circle on Indy’s story. Nothing tragic happens to him, but the time has come to clearing transition to a younger actor if the story is to remain viable. Think of Indy as you would James Bond, who always remains forever young with an infusion of newer, younger stars.

After an unusual slow start, “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” soars in its final act. While vastly superior to “The Temple of Doom” and a little more satisfying than “The Last Crusade,” it falls far short to the indelible classic, “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” While probably the franchise’s best villian, Blanchett’s dominatrix-lite gear gives her character an extra-added edge. LaBeouf is rebuffed when he tries to don the signature fedora, but just because he doesn’t get a chance to wear it in this film doesn’t mean that it and Indy’s bull whip won’t be in his possession in the near future.

As Ford prepares to exit from one his most recognizable roles, it seems that Spielberg and Lucas will look for more adversaries – and artifacts for future Indy stories with a new everyman at the helm.

Grade: B

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3 responses

21 05 2008
patrick

it would seem that the recipe of a good Indiana Jones film would be 1 part Nazis and 1 part Biblical Artifact… the Soviet army does a pretty good job of replacing the Nazis, but the other ingredient…

21 05 2008
Brandon Fibbs

“Quiet and reflective moments”? Did we see the same film? True, “Crystal Skull” is not an abomination, but it certainly didn’t need to be made, either!

20 06 2008
Ovarian

Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

cheers, Ovarian!!

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