Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

The man in the hat is back. To say Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is the most anticipated movie of 2008 would not be an understatement.

The man in the hat is back. To say Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is the most anticipated movie of 2008 would not be an understatement. Fans of the trilogy have been waiting nearly twenty years to see if Indy would ride again.. and finally it seems he does.

The triumvirate of Spielberg, Lucas and Ford have returned to deliver a rollicking rollercoaster ride that see our hero Indy face off against a new foe (the Russians) reunite with an old love (Marion – played by Karen Allen) and forge a relationship with a new sidekick in the form of young Hollywood hunk Shia LeBeouf (Transformers).

Taking its lessons from the Indiana Jones triolgy, Spielberg and co. have attempted to deliver a film that will really appeal to fans of the original flicks. For the most part they have succeeded. Ford dons the Fedora and whip and is instantly back in character – he may be a little slower and a lot older but the wisecracking humour is still in place and the trademark charm is lathered on.

Being an Indiana Jones film we’ve come to expect certain things – the ham fisted theatrics, the fisticuffs, the pratfalls, the cheesy one liners and at least one escape scene that involves the use of a whip… and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls delivers in spades.

What doesn’t really stand the test of time are the backprojected images and the more outmoded special effects. The original Indy flicks gave a nostalgic nod to the films of Hollywood’s golden age, but modern audiences may not see the homage in the hand drawn maps with the cut aways of planes making their dotted journey across the globe or may wonder why Spielberg has gone for more archaic special effects in this day and age of digital manipulation.

Then there’s the aliens… Most Indy fans have become accustomed to an outlandish plotline – they come with the territory – however Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls is let down in the last reel when Indy and pals reach the Amazon on the final stage of their quest. Let’s just say if only Spielberg could have left his obsession with extra terrestrials at home…

That said, there is still plenty that is appealing about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls and the film’s characterisations are its strong point. Clearly these actors enjoyed every B movie moment… It’s certainly a joy to see Ford back playing the character that made him a household name.

In most fans eyes, Karen Allen was the only Indy chick that really rated – so it is great to see her character come full circle in this film, she delivers a brash and sassy performance worthy of a Howard Hawks heroine. Ray Winstone enjoys every minute of his screen time as indy’s fairweather friend, Mac McHale. John Hurt is suitably wild eyed as the Indy’s crazed acquaintance Professor Oxley and Shia LeBeouf works hard to step into the Indy mantle – it’s clear from the film’s ending that we will be seeing more of him in Indy’s future… The hat is passed … almost… Then there is Cate Blanchett, who complete with an accent that could have stepped straight out of Rocky And Bullwinkle relishes every second of her screen time in an Over The Top performance as the film’s villain Irina Spalko.

Where the film falls down is in its plot – and the neat bow tie way in which it brings everything together at the end. Indeed most filmgoers will be two steps ahead of Indy and cohorts for most of the film so telegraphed are many of the plot points.

Fans have been clamouring for this film for years – and Spielberg, Lucas and Ford promised that this movie was one for the fans – so maybe the final verdict should be left up to them?

Does it live up to the hype – not quite – is it a fun flick? Yes… But ultimately it’s the fans that will make or break this film…

By Cec Busby

Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is now playing at cinemas everywhere.

Watch the trailer