Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Does Indiana Jones have any place in amongst the plethora of sharp action flicks grounded in realism? The short answer, ye of little faith, is yes. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is successful precisely for the reason its predecessors were: as a film it entertains like no other

Film: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen
Runtime: 124 mins
Rating: * * * *

After years of speculation, a succession of failed scripts and the hiring of a seemingly endless number of writers, our favourite whip-cracking archaeologist is back at last. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull marks the fourth outing of Harrison Ford’s iconic character, the first installment of the franchise since 1989’s much-praised Last Crusade and the most anticipated release of the summer.

Following that last mammoth hit, bringing Indy back to the big screen has often appeared a more improbable endeavour than the adventures of Dr. Jones himself. George Lucas infamously rejected scores of ‘Indy 4’ screenplays, discarding the efforts of many of Hollywood’s finest in search of a worthy script. Nevertheless, with David Koepp’s screenplay finally being green-lit back in 2006, and Harrison Ford still being alive and well at the ripe old age of 65, Indy has finally returned.

The question on the lips of every cynical viewer is, naturally: was it all worthwhile? Can ‘Indy 4’ reach the dizzying heights of earlier instalments? And does Indiana Jones have any place in amongst the plethora of sharp action flicks grounded in realism? The short answer, ye of little faith, is yes. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is successful precisely for the reason its predecessors were: as a film it entertains like no other.

From Ford’s opening line, prior to a classic Spielberg action sequence deep in the Nevada desert, it is clear that Lucas and company have struck the right tone. Unadulterated action, adventure and comedy are their targets, and they hit them again and again throughout.
Set in 1957, in the midst of the Cold War, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds an older and, occasionally, comically inept Indy battling with both internal and external enemies. Shifting away, alas, from classic foes the Nazis, Lucas has opted for a horde of Soviet Russians to be the villains of this piece. Led by the steely, sword-wielding psychic Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, relishing her opportunity for villainy), the Communists are ruthlessly seeking an enigmatic crystal skull, a trinket previously pursued by Jones’ colleague, Harold Oxley (John Hurt on fine mad-professor form).

The arrival of the fiesty Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), along with the return of Indy’s first love Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), leads our hero to commit to picking up where Oxley left off: on the trail of the Crystal Skull in Peru. Hairy moments involving snakes and the supernatural soon ensue.

The story has the pace of any previous Indy outing, while the dynamic between Ford, Allen and LaBeouf easily outstrips that between the characters in Temple of Doom. Sure it’s thoroughly over-the-top and at times utterly implausible, but then, we don’t turn to Indiana Jones for realism. We turn to these stories for adventure. So suspend your disbelief, dig out your Indy hat and enjoy his long-awaited return.

One comment

  1. **May contain some spoilers**

    Colin, what are you talking about?! It was pants and you know it!

    First you wrote;

    “And does Indiana Jones have any place in amongst the plethora of sharp action flicks grounded in realism? The short answer, ye of little faith, is yes.”

    Then you wrote;

    “Sure it’s thoroughly over-the-top and at times utterly implausible, but then, we don’t turn to Indiana Jones for realism.”

    So what it is? realism or not?

    I went to the advance screening at vue, I and most others in the cinema found it laughable in places it really shouldn’t have been. With action films you do have to accept a few improbable and implausible sequences, bullets always miss, characters can fall larger distances than in real life and be seemingly unaffected, but there is a line of implausibilty that cannot be crossed. Indiana runs away from five baddies with guns and they all miss; fine! Indiana survives a nuclear explosion by hiding inside a lead-lined fridge; pushing it! Indiana and co ride down what must be three of the biggest waterfalls in the world in a dinghy and not one of them falls out of the boat; Indy may as well have just grown a couple of wings and flown over the waterfalls, then flown back to the baddies and melted them with his heat ray vision!

    They crossed the line of implausibility, and stepped into the zone of absurdity, over and over again until the point I wasn’t interested anymore. Mutt swinging through the jungle like tarzan with an army of monkeys. Mutt’s swordfight straddling the two cars, the ants, the aliens, the skull – had I been 10 years younger I might have eaten it up, but I’m 22, and was hoping this Indy would have universal appeal like the old ones. Don’t believe this review, it was not just the implausibility that made this bad, it was much more. The action was badly cut together and looked very messy. At one point Marion Ravenwood was driving through the jungle in a chase scene and appeared to have been knocked unconscious by a the low branch of a tree, then in the next shot of her she was fine. The story was a complete pile of tosh, some reject X-files idea involving rubbish looking aliens. The script was full of terrible lines, like John Hurt’s final explanantion of where the alien’s were going now (I won’t spoil it, it’s just too cringing for me to even type), and the jokes weren’t as funny as they should have been.

    But the very worst part about it was that it could have been really good! It didn’t start off to badly, Harrison Ford was spot on, the aging, wily old Indy could have been a joy to watch. Shia LaBeouf was good, and the brawl in the diner near the start was very funny! The overall impression by the end was that George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg believe they are now so big, they can come up with any stupid idea they want, do it in any stupid way they want, and everyone will still say they are great. The Star Wars prequels showed this wasn’t true, what more eveidence do we need now?!

    Don’t believe this review; the film is worth two stars because the cast is good and there are still one or two moments of brilliance. If you go and see it then make sure you do suspend your disbelief, and your sanity.

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