Yes, everyone’s favourite fedora-wearing professor is back on the block. A mere 19 years after The Last Crusade, Spielberg and Lucas have brought one of cinema’s greatest icons out of cold storage, and thrown him into the start of the Cold War. And the good news is they haven’t done a terrible job.
The action’s set in the 1950s, and it sees a gang of pesky Russians led by Cate Blanchett trying to get their mitts on the mythical Crystal Skull. They’ve nabbed Indiana Jones, and try to coerce him into giving them a hand in their endeavours. However, Indy don’t take kindly to coercion, and soon it all kicks off.
While Harrison Ford may look a bit past his prime from time-to-time, he still puts in a decent performance as Indy. He’s ably abetted by Shia Laboeuf, the little shrimpy one from Tranformers. He plays Mutt, Indy’s greaser sidekick whose two chief passions are combing his hair, and sticking it to the man. They’re joined by Ray Winstone as a dodgy fellow archaeologist and John Hurt as a professor who’s fallen hopelessly under the spell of the Skull.
The action sequences, as in all the Indy films, are entertaining, with some great chases through the jungle a particular high-point. Sadly though, for a film based around the idea of the lead facing constant danger, Indy and his buddies never seem to be in any significant trouble. The Russian army never seem to be particularly menacing, and Indy’s treks through the various caves and passages on the way to the Skull’s resting place aren’t fraught with any great deal of difficulty.
The film doesn’t begin at the breakneck pace of the originals, and there’s an entirely unnecessary opening sequence that merely serves to tell you it’s the 50s, when a simple “1957” on screen would suffice. The problems continue with some rather iffy CGI, as the Crystal Skull of the title rather looks like a giant modified lightbulb filled with tin foil.
Winstone and Hurt are pushed to the margins and their talents seem a little wasted, and while there are a few decent and unexpected twists, the ending verges on the unbelievable. That’s saying something for a series that has featured melting Nazis and a 10-year-old beating up henchmen left right and centre.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not a bad film. It’s an entertaining ride, and it does the nostalgic stuff in a way that won’t annoy old fans, or confuse new ones. But it’s still no match for its predecessors. Having been out of service for 19 years, Indy gets too easy a ride on his return for this to be a really great film.
Check this out for a reminder of the great Indiana Joneses;