Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Ilia Volok, Emmanuel Todorov, Pavel Lychnikoff
Director: Steven Spielberg

It’s been a long time since I remember going to see an Indiana Jones adventure at the cinema although of course any of the first three pop up on TV every now and then. So long in fact it’s unusual for a franchise to be picked up again with the same star in the lead role.

Harrison Ford has certainly gained a few years but he still clearly has loads of energy and comes across on screen as much the hero as ever. This is despite Shia LaBeouf’s comparative youth right next to him on screen for most of the picture.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL sees Indy back teaching at university, but only until Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) presents him with the opportunity to make one of the most spectacular finds in history – the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination, superstition and fear!

Pretty soon there’s bad guys everywhere and its back to the jungle locations and ancient ruins. With communist paranoia raging out of control in 50’s America and Soviet agents seeking the power the Crystal Skull might hold there are very few moments to pause for breath especially when Indy is getting blown up in an atomic bomb test, protected only by a lead lined refrigerator, being chased on a motorbike straight through the university library or being pursued through the jungle in a high speed jeep chase.

This fourth Indiana Jones instalment certainly does produce all of the action and possibly more than any of it’s predecessors and it’s only failing is that the original trilogy was so successful that there have since been many copycats and similar themed movies that have been inspired by it.

Therefore any criticism that I have is aimed purely at the story line itself and not at the stars, stunts, effects or action. The fact is that the problem comes toward the end if the film when their final destination is gotten to via a complex ancient rock structure controlled by vast amounts of water which seemed far to similar to the NATIONAL TREASURE: BOOK OF SECRETS climax. To make matters worse the whole aliens sequence seemed totally out of place as if George Lucas of Star Wars fame who wrote the story was somehow chucking in a dose of director Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.

This action climax did somewhat dampen my enthusiasm for the film and felt like it was just going through the motions – a let down after 90 minutes of an otherwise good Indiana Jones picture. As much as I love sci-fi, aliens in an Indiana Jones film just didn’t work at all.

However watching the movie a few more times on DVD or Blu-ray will I’m sure help focus on the rest of the movie which great Indy fun. If the franchise is to continue it would be nice to see Harrison Ford retain the lead role for at least another outing.

4 out of 6 stars

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