Rating: 3.5 Pulses
Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen
Directed by Steven Spielberg
When I was in seventh grade I did a book report on a Steven Spielberg biography. I read of plans for a fourth installment of the Indiana Jones movies and have been waiting for it ever since. Now, 19 years after Indy’s last crusade, Harrison Ford returns to don his trademark fedora.
In the 12 years since my book report I have grown somewhat more cynical and discerning, but I have never become so stodgy to betray the love for the formative films of my youth.
It was with this love that led me to rent The Sandlot 2, and more recently, to go see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Thankfully, the recipe hasn’t changed much. Substitute Nazis for Russians and religious relics for Peruvian treasures and you get the idea. Dr. Jones still finds himself in ridiculous archeological adventures where the impervious good guys race against cardboard cutout commies to return the crystal skull. The cartoony violence in this iteration is enjoyable and never takes itself too seriously, and there are plenty of caves, creepy crawlies, corpses, and car chases to sate any fan of the original three.
Though never as good as Short Round or Jones Sr., Shia LaBeouf as Mutt does a well enough job at getting Indy into and out of some crazy shenanigans, while keeping in check some of his more annoying tendencies, and Cate Blanchett chews on a Ukrainian accent as Jones’ helmet-haired, sword-wielding nemesis.
The real joy, however, comes from the familiar faces of the series. Granted, Harrison Ford is 20 years older, but he hasn’t forgotten how to kick some ass. Karen Allen also reprieves her role from Raiders, playing the always feisty Marion, and proves herself the only woman capable of cracking Indy’s whip.
My only complaint is the timely but unneeded emphasis on Patriotism absent from the other films. For Indy, fighting Nazis was not about being American as much as opposing wrong. This time, the McCarthy-era backdrop plants flags in the soils of Good and Evil.
Despite this minor quibble, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivers everything one could expect from an Indiana Jones movie (that involves neither Nazis nor religion).