Monday, May 19, 2008


Indiana Jones returns to battle a group of evil Russians hunting for a lost artifact with supposed psychic powers. The star cast includes Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett and Karen Allen.

The Crystal Skull has all the tried and tested ingredients like ancient riddles, rumbling stone technology, a precious artifact with supernatural powers. And Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, still dashing in leather bomber jacket or professorial tweed.

The film is fast-moving, fun and occasionally inventive (the man-eating ants are a nice touch). But its success rides almost entirely on Ford, who brightens the action - always improbable, occasionally ludicrous - with physical humor and rascally charm. He wears the role so naturally that his supporting actors often seem to be faking it.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL opens Thursday at area theaters, with some screening it at midnight Wednesday. The film hints that another sequel might come our way.



It's not that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, exhumed after 19 years to be the fourth in this series, is bad, exactly. But it's undeniably creaky.

What made the Indiana Jones series so fresh and amusing back in the '80s was its lightness of touch and its tongue-in-cheek, 'ripping yarns' spirit.

That hasn't quite disappeared, but there's an awful lot of long-winded explanations of myths, legend and hieroglyphics in this story about Indy's mission to Peru for a crystal skull that's allegedly the fount of all knowledge.

Thus, between a series of stunt-driven set pieces, many of them implausibly linked, the film gets bogged down in wearying talk.


A spontaneous cheer went up when Indiana Jones was pulled out of the boot of a car in the Nevada desert.

Nineteen long years have done nothing for his dress sense, and nor have they withered his appetite for trouble.

This fantastic Steven Spielberg adventure is a marvellous return to form for Professor Henry Jones Jr. There are Mayan riddles to solve, KGB agents to biff, and one of the greatest - and longest - action chases through the Amazon jungle in the history of cinema.


One of cinema's most enduring action heroes has returned to the global arena, famous fedora and cracking bullwhip intact and showing few signs of a creaky physique.

Can Harrison Ford, 65, who was in his 30s when he made Raiders of the Lost Ark, still hack it as an action hero, when his mentor, Sir Sean Connery, declined an invitation from the franchise's creators, the director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas?

The answer is a cautious 'Yes', even if the script leaves him floundering in places, especially a rather slow and unnecessarily convoluted start.

Moviegoers will likely find, as many critics did, that Indy IV is great fun without necessarily being great cinema.

It's a solid summer blockbuster, in other words, just like its three predecessors.

All involved in it are working at the top of their game. Think of Indy IV as a toy crafted by expert jewellers and you won't be far off the mark, even if its theme is - on the face of it - anything but child's play.


Despite the genuine excitement, and one blinding flash of the old genius, this new Indy film looks like it's going through the motions.

The third film was called Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, after all - perhaps, like the first Star Wars film, that will need a change of title, with the word 'penultimate' added to all new DVDs.

Unlike the calamitous Star Wars prequel trilogy, this film doesn't trash our treasured memories, but it doesn't add anything either.


There are two ways to manage a film franchise. One is to continually reinvent and update it, which has worked pretty well for James Bond. The other method is to simply stick with what worked the first time.

That's what director Steven Spielberg and creator-producer George Lucas have done with Raiders of the Lost Ark, their 1981 adventure classic. There's no recapturing Ark's innocent magic, so the filmmakers, through two middling but popcorn-worthy sequels - 1984's Temple of Doom and 1989's The Last Crusade - basically reworked the original while taking care not to sully our memories of it.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull manages the same balancing act, though with some major wobbles as usual.

The film is fast-moving, fun and occasionally inventive. But its success rides almost entirely on Ford, who brightens the action - always improbable, occasionally ludicrous - with physical humour and rascally charm.

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