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A blast from start to (almost) finish.

  • Nov 17, 2010
  • by
So, based on some reviews I've read and comments I've seen from viewers on TV...apparently INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDON OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is supposed to have been a life-changing movie. At least a groundbreaking film sure to vault to "all-time classic" status. Because there sure are a lot of disappointed viewers around.

If, however, you have the more reasonable expectation of a highly-entertaining, highly-implausible action film that hearkens back to the "cliff-hanger" brand of old-school adventure...but gussied up with all the modern technology can bring...then you'll be fairly well satisfied.

Let me get to the "bad" stuff first...the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Without giving too much away, let me just say that the quest Indiana Jones finds himself on is not terribly interesting on its own. The bad-guys are Soviets (led by a hugely over-the-top Cate Blanchett as Irina) are in the US to snag a crystal skull from the same storage warehouse that the "Lost Ark" was hidden at the end of that film. This unusual artifact can apparently bestow some great powers when it is returned to its home in a lost kingdom in the Amazon. Naturally, the Soviets want to do that. Indiana, for various reasons, is compelled to thwart their efforts. At the end, when all the key characters are assembled in this hidden temple...the payoff is actually unexciting. You just don't quite understand what is happening, and it feels, quite frankly, like the final scenes of either NATIONAL TREASURE movie. Overblown sets and not much excitement. I was disappointed that these scenes were all the movie was leading up to.

Here's the good stuff: the movie has several truly outstanding action sequences...including a lengthy chase scene through the jungles of the Amazon. It involves trucks, jeeps, machine guns, fistfights on the backs of these vehicles, much leaping from jeep to another, giant ants, playful monkeys, wild rivers, waterfalls and more. It is wildly unbelievable yet I found myself laughing in delight, cringing in anxiety and marveling at the technical skill. All the while, Harrison Ford served as the droll centerpiece...agile yet admitting his age. I was so delighted by this long scene that I nearly burst into applause...but I was certainly smiling in gratitude for such a breathless good time.

A motorcycle chase is loads of fun too, as is Indy's initial brush with the Soviets, which leads to a very funny scene involving an atomic explosion (don't ask...just see for yourself).

Harrison Ford is certainly older, but he's as wiry as ever and if anything, the age has made his world-weary irony fit him even better. Shia LaBeouff is Mutt, a young man who enlists Indy's aid is funny and makes a nice foil for Ford. Blanchett is probably a little broad with her characterization, but it fits the tone of these movies. Ray Winstone is Indiana's long-time friend and partner...and he's adequate but the script isn't really all the interested in him either. John Hurt is fun, and even Karen Allen returns as Marion Ravenwood...and she and Ford have instant and convincing chemistry.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was a classic because it melded so well the cheesy action movies of the `40s with modern filmmaking technology and a well-conceived central character. Subsequent entries in the series are merely extensions or enhancements of the original amazing achievement. They are loads of fun too (some more than others), but only RAIDERS will ever have classic status. CRYSTAL SKULL is a worthy partner to the original three films, and I hope you'll set your expectations at the correct level and just go enjoy the heck out of the film!

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Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
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WARNING: This review contains spoilers!      After 19 years, Indiana Jones returns to the silver screen in what may be Steven Spielberg's worst film ever (or until now, anyway). Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a bust. The screenplay was amateurishly written and the film itself is directed with juvenile enthusiasm. The overall mood of the picture doesn't even feel like that of Indiana Jones, but rather more like National Treasure, The Mummy Returns or …
review by . April 23, 2009
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Quick Tip by . November 19, 2009
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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Nearly 20 years after riding his last Crusade, Harrison Ford makes a welcome return as archaeologist/relic hunter Indiana Jones inIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, an action-packed fourth installment that's, in a nutshell, less memorable than the first three but great nostalgia for fans of the series. Producer George Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp (War of the Worlds) set the film during the cold war, as the Soviets--replacing Nazis as Indy's villains of choice and led by a sword-wielding Cate Blanchett with black bob and sunglasses--are in pursuit of a crystal skull, which has mystical powers related to a city of gold. After escaping from them in a spectacular opening action sequence, Indy is coerced to head to Peru at the behest of a young greaser (Shia LaBeouf) whose friend--and Indy's colleague--Professor Oxley (John Hurt) has been captured for his knowledge of the skull's whereabouts. Whatever secrets the skull holds are tertiary; its reveal is the weakest part of the movie, as the CGI effects that inevitably accompany it feel jarring next to the boulder-rolling world of Indy audiences knew and loved. There's plenty of comedy, delightful stunts--ants play a deadly role here--and the return ofRaiderslove interest Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, once shrill but now softened, giving her ex-love bemused glances and eye-rolls as he huffs his way to save the day. Which brings us to Ford: bullwhip still in hand, he's a little ...
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Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: May 22, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: October 14, 2008
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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