Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Review - Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Dr. Jones is back, after a 19 year hiatus with an all new adventure that puts Indy back in action to solve the secrets that lie within a mysterious artifact called the crystal skull. Harrison Ford reprises his role along with Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood in this all new tale written by George Lucas and David Koepp and directed by Indiana Jones helmer Steven Spielberg.

This film does its best to bring back the nostalgia of the previous three films right from the get go. Starting off with the traditional Paramount mountain and jumping right into the middle of yet another Jones adventure. Indy this time, who shows his age well, has managed to get himself involved with Russians who are eager to get their hands on a very elusive and magnatized crystal skull. In normal Jones fashion, Indiana trys to debunk the russians military led by Irina Spalko played by Cate Blanchett while both groups try to uncover the mysteries and location of the crystal skull.

Along for the adventure this time are Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams. Mutt plays a twenty something greaser who enlists Jones's help when his mother (Marion Ravenwood) and long time friend/archaeologist Professor 'Ox' Oxley played by John Hurt. Ox and Marion are captured by the Russains and used as bait for Indiana to find the location of the crystal skull. LaBeouf is a very talented actor and steps into the sidekick role for Dr. Jones perfectly. His niche, the switchblade is a nice alternative to Jones's whip and his humor works well in the film. Ford and LaBeouf are given very similar banter to what Connery and Ford had in The Last Crusade, and for the most part it works flawlessly.

There were a few times in the film I felt Lucas and Spielberg were trying to hard to re-create what they had done so masterfully with the first three. But by all means they did a great job, it was a really fun film. Just certain points felted forced or too similiar to earlier situations from earlier films. For instance Ray Winestone character Mac, seemed way too reminscent of Alfred Molina's character Satipo in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both were supposedly great friends with Indiana but ultimately double crossed him for the love of money. Another example is Marion, once again she is kidnapped in this film and it is up to Jones to save her. I felt the writers could have found a better way to bring back her character, instead of the all too easy damsel in distress storyline. Hurts's character Ox was very similiar to Marcus Brody in the originals. Throughout most of the film Ox is out of his mind and his manerisms and dialogue reminded me totally of Marcus, very hapless or absentminded. That said, Hurt will have you laughing quite a bit throughout the film. He has some of the best comedic deliveries in it, "Help!"

The film runs two hours and does not fell long in the slightest. I myself felt, it could have been at least 20 to 30 minutes longer and still kept my full attention and enjoyment. There were a few scenes that felt like they were chopped down a bit and hopefully we'll see that in the dvd. The action in the film is great. Jones doesn't look as limber as he use to and they play that up in certain points throughout the film well. LaBeouf and Blanchett also deliver quite well in the action sequences. One sequence I could have done without has LaBeouf swinging on vines with monkeys. While my kids loved that part and were laughing hysterically, I felt it was just too much. In retrospect, I did feel that as a kid I would have thought that scene was rad too!

Overall Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull delivers for a summer movie that we have been waiting for nearly twenty years. Speilberg did a good job of returning the nostaglia of the previous films while also setting up the possiblity of new arcs with the Jones family. I had a smile on my face year to ear throughout the film and caught myself from almost screaming out, "Go Indy!!!" a couple times in the movie. Don't expect Crystal Skull to be the best Indiana Jones story we've seen, cause it certainly wasn't that, but it is a strong sequel that can be enjoyed again and agian like all of the other Indiana Jones films.