A little more rugged and world-weary but still as handsome as when we were first introduced to him in The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones is back in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Now a card-carrying member of the AARP, things run a little more slowly and the over the hill jokes are a must. I was hoping that the film would capture the magic of the previous three, but alas, it did not.
The film opens up with Indy being taken by the Russians to what will later be known as Area 51 (or so I assume). Indy is forced by KGB agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) to find an artifact for her located in the same warehouse where we last saw the Ark. This is where the inconsistencies start…
Indy escapes the warehouse and finds himself on Wisteria Lane. No, that’s not Teri Hatcher, it’s a mannequin – oh wait, same thing. Except this suburbia is a nuclear test site. Damn, they don’t make fridges like they used to…
Mutt finds Indy on his way to London and tells him that Professor Oxley (John Hurt), a former classmate of Indy’s and friend of Mutt’s family, has gone missing down in South America on his search for a crystal skull. Mutt’s mom is down there and told her if she was in trouble to find Indy to help. Intrigued, Indy and Mutt venture down to Peru to find the two.
A college town chase scene ensues, followed later by a fun romp/chase through the jungles (reminiscent of the Endor speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi). These are the elements most like the old Indy films.
My main problem with the film were mostly with continuity. Indy and gang are soaked yet they seemed to be able to light a torch – with what? Waterproof matches? When were those invented anyway? Metal particles fly to to this magnet, yet other metal items don’t. What gives? Why is the TV on (or working at all?) in this nuclear surburbia? Were there such obvious inconsistencies in the previous three films? I may have to go back and watch them all over again with fresh eyes.
Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is back but with little to do. Her character was sorely underused in the film, but it was great to see Allen back on the big screen. Scrooged, Starman, Animal House — the freckled-face Allen was the Everywoman of film back in the '80s. Marion’s son, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), is a Marlon Brando wannabe but will he inherit the franchise? Mutt Williams and the Temple of Doom, anyone? Not so catchy. Couldn’t he have picked another state for his nickname? Nevada Williams, perhaps?
While everyone, even myself, anticipated another Indiana Jones film after Last Crusade, I’m wondering now if the franchise was better left alone. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was, by far, my favorite film – with a far better story and a chemistry between Ford and Sean Connery that far surpasses the chemistry between Ford and LaBeouf.
It’s still a great popcorn flick, but so far Iron Man is the tops of my list of 2008 summer movies.
Grade C-Powered by Sidelines