I just got home from a midnight show of the new Indiana Jones movie and am ready to blog ‘bout it so here goes:
INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 2008)
The most anticipated movie since the first of the STAR WARS prequels has had fans worried the world over that their beloved childhood memories may again be in jeopardy.
That’s right, of all the threats that our whip cracking archaeologist hero has to face, the wrath of the hardcore fanboy force may be the scariest. Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas knew going in that this franchise was in the current CGI era of comic book superheroes a murky cob-webbed temple filled with elaborate traps and to enter and go for the gold one more time may result in getting crushed by a giant boulder of condemnation.
Well, somehow they amazingly emerge with an entry that is as good an Indiana Jones movie as could be made today. Right off the bat it’s an old school blast set in 1957 with the villains being the KGB (since Nazis would be out of date) led by a dominatrix-like Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone as a now you trust him, now you don’t partner of Indy’s and Shia LeBeouf as a WILD ONE attired motorcycling youth who ropes our Dr. Jones into another globe trotting adventure.
The first shots of the grizzled grey haired Ford scowling like only Ford as Indy can are a bit of a shock. I mean, he’s 65 but within moments the manner in which he naturally assumes the role of his most iconic character again can be considered one of the best special effects on display here.
It’s fitting that my last post was about self-referential moments in Lucas/Spielberg movies because this is self-referential city! To go into any in any detail at this early point though would be major Spoiler action so don’t worry I won’t go there.
I will say that all the elements you would expect and want from an Indiana Jones movie are here in abundance including the multitudes of close range shooting by groups of military men with machine guns that don’t hit anybody, legions of bugs, snakes (of course), those dusty skeleton filled caverns with still working mechanizations, bickering with the leading lady (welcome back to the spunky Karen Allen who seems to be really enjoying herself) in moments of extreme danger, and my personal favorite - the amount of times, with great classic sound effect, that Indy can be punched in the face and then be fine less than 10 seconds later.
Ford is more engaged here than he has been in ages but with projects like HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE (2003) that’s not too surprising. It does seem like LaBeouf is being groomed to take over the series (hope that's not a Spoiler) which is not a notion I’m comfortable with but hey, I’m getting ahead myself.
It’s just so nice that unlike the STAR WARS prequels there is nothing here that embarrasses the series and I predict this will be embraced by the faithful fans for the most part.
Despite that Indiana Jones has a new catchphrase with “this can’t be good” and even recites Han Solo’s classic “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” line, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is very good entertainment with just the right tone and humor. So join the rest of the world in breathing a sigh of relief at the multiplex.