On our way to the theater to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Erica mentioned that she had recently seen Harrison Ford on a talk show. When asked about the plot, Ford just laughed. It was an appropriate response, but don’t be worried that this movie tarnished the original trilogy, something that George Lucas was accused of doing to another trilogy he created. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is delightful romp that has fun with itself and does not try to go too deep. Granted, the Indy series never did aspire to be much more than a fun trip to the movies and neither does this one.
In the first reel of the film, Indy finds himself and a long-time British colleague named Mac (Ray Winstone), kidnapped by Soviets in 1957 Nevada; Area 51 is implied. Led by Col. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), one of Stalin’s favorite scientists and someone obsessed with mind control, the Soviets force Indy to find what they are looking for — a box with Roswell, N.M. marked on it. Indy finds it and then manages to escape not just the Soviets but Mac , who has defected. An even more implausible, but creepy and funny at the time same time, escape follows.
Indy finds himself in hot water with the government following his actions in Nevada and loses his job as professor of Archeology at a college that looks suspiciously like Yale (except for the women in the classroom). On his way out of town, a young motorcyclist, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), catches up with Indy with news that a former colleague, Ox, is in trouble in Peru. The KGB catches up to both of them, sending them on a motorcycle chase through New Haven and campus. Indy changes his plans to head to England and joins Mutt on a trip to South America.
Indy and Mutt find their way to Peru where Indy is reunited with Ox (John Hurt) who went gone crazy after acquiring the crystal skull and an old flame, Marion Ravenwood, again played by Karen Allen and Mac, who reveals himself to be a double agent a joins the group on the quest to return the crystal skull. Indy and Marion spar with each other upon sight — just like old times.
The middle portion of the movie is generally a series chases through the jungle that include the typical humor, choreography, stuntwork and grossouts of the Indy series. It is great fun and if if the best log flume ride of all time is not developed out of one of the scenes I will be surely disappointed.
After surviving the chase, Indy, Marion, Mutt, Ox, and Mac find their way into the cave only to be followed by the Soviets. There is a convoluted climax that seems logical by the standards of the previous films with similar results. The end ties everything in a little bow and seemingly ends the series for good.
Overall, the movie is a lot of fun, though the beginning is a little uneven as it seems we are being beaten over the head by the fact Indy is old and that the movie takes place in 1957. I also got the feeling that Lucas and director Steven Spielberg enjoyed making LaBeouf look stupid though they might have just been playing “old guys still have it” card; it worked. Ford acts the way he always acts, Allen is delightful and LaBeouf gets the job done. Blanchett was silly in her awful Katie Holmes haircut and Natasha from Rocky & Bullwinkle accent. Hurt’s Ox was not much of a part Winstone is fine as the duplicitous Mac. I also enjoyed one particular line that was uttered not long before the climax and the use of the Wilhlem scream.
The movie should satisfy (and probably already has) all but the most uptight, miserable fanboys. I don’t think I will see it again in the theater, but on DVD it would be a lot of fun.