So it is perhaps not a surprise that after millions of fans nagging them for the last 19 years, that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas gave in to make ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’. Every man will resort to a childlike state on entering the cinema, wishing that he too would be able to crack that whip and rescue buried treasure from the hands of the villainous Russians. Unlike in the previous films where the baddie was usually a Nazi, the film accurately moves on in the temporal world of Indy’s life. Set in 1957, 20 years on from the last, the political situation of the Cold War is accurately highlighted and encompassed by the steely persona of Irina Spalko, played by Cate Blanchett. Spalko plays a role similar to that of the female villain in ‘The Last Crusade’, a doctor working for an evil dictator and trying to grab as much magical material as possible to help in his world takeover bid.
With Indiana enlisted to help stop the Russians by the young and virile Mutt Williams (Shia LaBoeuf), the adventure inevitably has the explosive action and mystical storyline that we as an audience have grown accustomed to over the years. But therein lies the problem, the story is weak and ultimately totally reliant on the previous branding of the franchise. As a standalone film it is a totally substandard despite the high level of sophistication from Lucas’ effects. The only saving grace lies with the cheeky nods to the past films which will make many a die hard fan grin with nostalgia. And that’s it. John Hurt is sorely underused and Ray Winstone’s recurrent cockney character fails to emit the right level of sympathy.
Harrison Ford picks up the whip again for what will hopefully be his last foray into the world of Indy. Carrying on his smart-alik retorts he now readily fulfills the mantle of bumbling old academic taking large influences from the idiosyncrasies offered by Sean Connery in ‘The Last Crusade’. LaBoeuf is not as bad as he was in ‘Transformers’ and seems to have finally transformed into the young male actor that is worthy of a Spielberg flick even though the director seems to have made this film in his sleep with little creative challenge and originality.
Well worth the price of a cinema ticket but only for those who love with a passion the previous 3 films. If you are one of the very few sad people left on the planet not to have seen an Indiana Jones film then you really should not start with this one! Sit down with a large tub of something sweet and enjoy the original magic of a geeky university lecturer with an amazing part time habit that will almost make you want to become an archaeologist…