Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) ***

Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 2hr 4min
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf
Genre: Drama
Language: English

Indy’s Excellent Mid-Life Crisis

In a Nutshell

Plot

Straight as an Arrow
Twisty

Sound Quality

Easy to Hear
Incomprehensible

Who's That?

Few Main Characters
Lots

Naughty Words

Mild
Foul

Naked people

None
Lots

Violence

Tame
Bloody

Indy’s theme song rising at the hint of fisticuffs in a late-1950’s roadside eatery activates the nervous system: the game is on. Forget about the plot; it’s clear enough, its inconsistencies irrelevant. The delightful devil is in the details and any tip-off would be a spoiler. It’s best, however, to have seen the earlier Indiana Jones installments because this one is full of verbal and visual references to them studding the film like treasures aglow in the bowels of a government storage facility.

Was it only 27 years ago?

Then, Raiders of the Lost Ark set a new bar for speed of chase and chilling special effects. It came as a spine-tingling surprise when chasms opened in stone and monuments moved. The sudden appearance of a snake evoked terror equal to our hero’s early trauma. In the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, you size up the architecture to guess where the puzzle will open with mysterious precision. Of course, a slimy snake will turn up and Indy will “lose it” — momentarily. Anticipating this is very enjoyable.

In comparison to the current generation of over-adrenalized computer-generated super-human adventure films, any return to the early George Lucas/Steven Spielberg days with their huge, human stunt-double casts, might seem quaint. But, the veteran team would have drawn criticism for either clinging to the old formula or pushing its envelope too far. They seem to have got it just about right.

It’s good to know who you are and where you are and how you got there. Dr. Henry Walton (Indiana) Jones, Jr. (Harrison Ford), age 60, has lost none of his chops or his charm. He still knows when to don his specs or his battered hat, and wears his vast experience with the likes of Russian Agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) and her band of goons like a loose garment. He has nothing to prove to the young upstart, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) who, after a classic triumph over an invincible foe asks: “You’re a teacher?

“Part time.”

Indy brushes off two decades of womanizing with an unapologetic grin. He simply disarms Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), by telling her what was wrong with all those other gals:

“They weren’t you.”

To Spalko, driven by her lust for transcendental power, Blanchett brings a steely femininity (the exact antithesis of her role in Lord of the Rings). As Mutt, running a pocket comb compulsively through his Brylcreem, LaBoeuf is a legitimate pretender to the lead in future sagas, that is, if the old man will ever hand over the fedora. The tenderest accolades must go to Allen for creating a mature — well, sort of — Marion, feisty as always, slightly filled out, and perfectly lovely in white. No Botox for lady Marion!

Other familiar characters add zest. Indy’s sidekick, “Mac” (Ray Winstone) redefines the term flip-flopper as Jones’s struggle with faith and Freud (endlessly dissected by fans and critics alike) boils down to how far he’ll go to forgive his old friend. Professor “Ox” Oxley (John Hurt) is kidnapped by Russians and maddened by forced exposure to the crystal skull . . .

Oh, yes . . . The Skull!

Let’s not forget the object of the exercise. But, maybe that’s what Indy wants to say: stick to your guns; uphold honor; enjoy the journey wherever it leads. Perfection, which this film does not achieve, isn’t the point. It’s a good lesson to learn at any stage of life. Besides — time flies, when you’re having fun.

Lynn McCann's checkered professional life began with dance and has included singing and acting, writing and journalism, teaching and tutoring. A long career as a computer programmer is mercifully behind her and she looks forward to publishing a memoir, a biography, and a popular history of automation technology. She continues to perform as a singer, and leads New York City tours for Elderhostel.

Comments

Paul said on June 1, 2008

 

I saw the movie today, you and Indy are correct - it’s all about the journey.

Wayne D. said on July 15, 2008

 

I’m going to wait until this one comes out on DVD. I just hope my popcorn isn’t stale by then!lol Great review Lynn! Hope the movie is just as good….

Raudel said on December 2, 2012

 

The Complete Saga does cover the first three movies like the onirigal game, but the levels are completely new. It is not just a rehash of the same levels, although the storyline is the same.”The Complete Saga” includes 6 worlds, each of which contains 15 playable levels plus a few extra activities in the “hub” world and an extra bonus level. The first 3 worlds follow the storyline of the 3 older movies (1 world for each movie), while The Crystal Skull is covered in more detail in the last 3 worlds. So you are not just getting a few bonus Crystal Skull levels for the “extra $30″, you are getting a complete new game. So if you like the Lego games, you could buy both and not have any duplication in gameplay (although you may get a sense of deja vu since the storylines overlap).

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