Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

December 4, 2020

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull review

Filed under: Our FIlms,Their Films — Rajeev @ 5:49 pm

May 30, 2008

Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine

Director: Steven Spielberg

You’re going to hear lots of different reactions to the new Indiana Jones movie. Many are going to love it, and for so many others it will inevitably fall short of expectations.

The truth is, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a perfectly respectable action-adventure film – it’s got some great set pieces involving sword-fights atop speeding jeeps, death-defying plunges down waterfalls, and some Tarzan-style swinging across trees with a troupe of monkeys. There are also enough chase sequences and narrow escapes to keep your bottom fixed firmly on your seat for the entire duration of the film.

For die-hard fans, the opening strains of John Williams’ now legendary theme music, and the very sight of that fedora will no doubt set pulses racing. Indy’s back after 19 long years, and he’s just as good as ever.

The film’s convoluted plotline follows the villainous Soviets in search of a legendary Mayan artifact – the crystal skull – said to possess supernatural powers. Indy follows the bad guys to Peru when he realizes the relic is in fact, the key to an extinct civilization.

It takes the first forty minutes or so to remind us exactly why we love the Indiana Jones movies so much — where else do you find that signature blend of mysticism, adventure, full-throttle action and slapstick humour?

Of course much of the film’s appeal lies in watching Harrison Ford reprise his role as the adventure-loving archaeology professor – sure he’s aged since his last outing, but he’s still looks just as charming in that leather jacket and that weathered fedora, and he can still snap that bullwhip with finesse.

For old time’s sake, the writers thrown in a scene in which he tangles once again with his most feared nemesis – a snake. Also for old time’s sake, he’s reunited with former sweetheart Marion Ravenwood (played by Karen Allen) with whom he shares some sharp-witted banter.

But some of the film’s most enjoyable moments are the ones between Indy and his brand new sidekick Mutt (played by Shia LeBeouf) – you’ll have to stop yourself from screaming out in excitement when they go through that spectacular motorcycle chase scene on an Ivy League college campus.

Having said all that, it’s also true fanboys will be disappointed by the fact that the new film’s lacking that sense of real fear you’ve always felt for Indy – it’s true, the special effects and the fancy action do give Indy’s obstacles a kind of make-believe feel. But then, let’s face it, the Indiana Jones movies have always been about fun and adventure, and that’s not lacking in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Much of that adventure, in fact, is provided by the excellent Cate Blanchett as the slinky Soviet femme fatale who’s determined to have our hero lead her to the the secrets of the crystal skull.

If I felt let down at all by the new film, it’s because the cheekiness that made Indy so charming, was hardly to be found here. The humour is almost gone.

But it’s still an enjoyable watch and possibly more fun than most films you’ve seen recently. I’m going with three out of five for directorSteven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sure it’s not a patch on Raiders of the Lost Ark, but remember that was another time another day. A time when Indy crossing a wobbly rope bridge felt like an edge-of-the-seat moment. Today, remember, it’s all about the special effects. And to maintain even some of integrity of the original films today, is something we should be thankful for.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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