Length: 124 minutes
Director: Steven Spielberg (Raiders of the Lost Ark; Jaws)
Writer: David Koepp (Spider-man; Jurassic Park)
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Sasha Spielberg, Ernie Reyes Jr.
It took a little bit. When the movie first started, I knew that here was Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and he was battling some Russian commie scuzz. He makes some cracks about getting older, gets betrayed by an old friend (Ray Winstone), meets his new nemesis- Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett- awesome as usual)- and ends up surviving a nuclear explosion by hiding in a the refrigerator of a perfect 1950’s model home. It’s business as usual, but it wasn’t until Jones and his new sidekick- a greaser teen named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf)- go exploring into the depths of a cave that I finally was able to relax and realize that I was, in fact, watching an Indiana Jones film. By God, it was a damn good feeling too. Like most of my peers, I was too young to ever watch any of the Indy flicks at the movies (I had a chance to see “Last Crusade”, but passed to see “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” instead, I think- a regret I still have to this day), so it was glorious to finally see all the action on the big screen. Picking up a franchise after a nineteen year hiatus is tough, but the movies have become mandatory viewing for everyone. When the box set of the last three movies were finally released on DVD, they flew off the shelves. Who doesn’t love them? And what a relief that the newest addition (and according to Spielberg- not the last), “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, is an admirably worthy addition to the legacy. You have to admire Spielberg and George Lucas for not rushing this thing out just to cash in. They even passed on scripts by high profilers Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”), M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”), and Tom Stoppard (“Brazil”). It was worth the wait. Not to say that “Kingdom” is the best entry of the series- it isn’t- but it does fit right in. It has everything you’d want from an Indiana Jones movie- plenty of action, heart pounding chases, insane stunts, great Indy wisecracks, snakes, and even the return of Marion (Karen Allen) - Jones’ love interest from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. This time around, after escaping the nuclear explosion, Indy finds himself tracked down by Mutt, who is a friend of one of Indy’s old colleagues- Professor Oaxley (John Hurt- looking like he went straight from the set of “The Proposition” to here). Oaxley has been taken prisoner by Irina Spalko in order to help locate a hidden skull that will lead the Russians to a lost city of gold. Of course, the two have to go try to rescue him and get the skull out of the hands of those commie bastards before all hell breaks loose. It’s funny how Spielberg can prove he’s still one of the greatest film directors of all time with a third sequel to a film he made in 1981. It just goes to show you how damned talented the guy is that he is able to reconnect with an audience that might be being introduced to Indy for the first time. You can also tell that the movie is a labor of love for him and Lucas. You know that enjoyed every minute making this movie. There will be gripes from some fans I imagine that will be let down and they will search and search to find reasons why. The main ones I’ve heard are silly “there’s no way so and so could do this”, “that could never happen", etc. etc. Have people forgotten that that is the point of the films? They are based on the serials of yesteryear. Where regular people have adventures and keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Sure, nobody could actually do what the characters do in these films during the action sequences, but that’s the point. It’s fantasy. It’s a reminder of a time when an action movie could be illogical with it’s actions, but didn’t treat it’s audience like it was stupid. It just gave them every cent worth of the ticket they bought to see it. "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" made every cent worth it. Good to have you back Dr. Jones.