Welcome to The Flick Chicks
- Category: Judy Thorburn
- Published on 06 November 2008
- Written by Administrator
Las Vegas Tribune - http://www.lasvegastribune.com
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundheclock.com
The Women Film Critics Circle - http://www.wfcc.wordpress.com
"INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTALL SKULL" - ANOTHER GREAT 'INDY' RACE TO THE FINISH
The fact that there had been little publicity surrounding the release of the highly anticipated new chapter of the Indiana Jones series had me wondering if the film was so bad that the studio was expecting a flop. Based on that assessment, I was prepared for a major letdown considering how much I enjoyed the previous three. But now that I’ve have sat through the film, let me say whatever perceptions I had was in error because I am happy to report Indiana Jones is back and better than ever with Harrison Ford once again reprising his iconic screen character and collaborating filmmakers, director Steven Spielberg and producer/storyteller George Lucas creating movie magic.
Ford may be in his late sixties, but he is still fit and has what it takes to deliver the goods as the classic action hero, complete with Indiana’s signature leather jacket, brown fedora, bullwhip and yes, smarts. According to the press material, he even did his own stunts, which is pretty impressive, once you see what his role demands.
The latest adventure in the franchise is yet another thrill ride with all the right elements that made the series such a bonafide hit. Plus, avid movie fans will notice several references from earlier Indiana Jones flicks as well as homage to American Graffitti, E.T., and Close Encounters.
It’s hard to believe it has been almost twenty years since the Last Crusade when audiences followed archeologist/t/adventurer/treasure hunter Indiana Jones (given name Henry Jones, Jr.) in his search against time for the Holy Grail. That was back in 1938 when the villains were the evil Nazis, who were threatening to take over the world. As we meet up with Dr. Jones (yes, he has a doctorate, and as a professor, teaches at the fictitious Marshall College when he isn’t on another world adventure) it is nineteen years later in 1957, at the height of the McCarthy era and the Cold War when the fear was of Communism (known back then as the Red Menace) taking a grip on American soil. It was also the age of teenage rebels, greasers, nuclear bomb tests, and UFO sightings, all of which the team of Spielberg, Lucas, and screenwriters David Koepp and Jeff Nathanson aptly blend into the script.
Enter the time appropriate villains, the Russians. At the forefront is Stalin’s favorite scientist, icy cold and calculating KGB agent, Col. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, looking great in a short black bob with bangs and sporting an uneven Russian accent) leading her pack of comrades in search of a stolen ancient artifact, the Crystal Skull of Akator, that the Soviets believe to be the ultimate weapon for world domination with its powerful psychic abilities that can control minds.
The opening sequence has Indy and his WWII buddy, Mac (Ray Winstone) kidnapped by Spalko and her cohorts and taken to a top secret U.S. military installation in Nevada where recovered artifacts are stored including the steel box that contains the key to the skull’s whereabouts and the mythical city that holds its secret. Indy is just the guy who knows how to read the map and, against his will, is expected to lead Spalko to the treasure that is hidden somewhere deep within the jungles of Peru.
No doubt Indy is able to escape, but not before some shoot em up action takes place. What follows is a close call, in which he survives the detonation of a nuclear bomb in a fake town filled with mannequins in place of people. Afterwards, Indy winds up back east teaching his next archeology class at Marshall College. But that stint is short lived when he discovers the FBI, as well as the KGB, is after him. Before leaving town, Indy is approached by a young motorcycling greaser, Mutt Williams (Shia LeBouef, attempting to channel a young Marlon Brando in The Wild One), who packs a mean switchblade and is forever combing back his hair. Mutt is keen on delivering a letter from his mother to Indy with information about Indy’s former colleague, Professor Oxley (John Hurt) who has gone mad and is missing somewhere in South America. As it turns out each are on the trail of the crystal skull and to no surprise Mutt’s mom is Indy’s great love interest, Marion Ravenwood from “Raiders” played by a returning Karen Allen, who, now in her mid fifties, appears as fearless and spunky as ever.
Eventually Indy and his new sidekick Mutt, manage to meet up with Marion, the out of his mind Ox (short for Oxley) and Mac to join forces that will take them on a dangerous and thrilling mission to recover the skull before the evil Spalko gets her hands on it. This sets the stage for continuous action packed sequences including a heart pounding two vehicle car race through the Amazon jungle, plunging falls over cliffs and multiple waterfalls, a sword fighting duel on the back of speeding jeeps, getting caught in quicksand, and fighting off an army of carnivorous ants.
It’s everything you expect from an Indiana Jones flick and nothing is missing including humorous quips and one liners, great stunts and special effects that don’t overwhelm the storyline. I could not have asked for anything more. It is no secret that Shia LeBeouf is being groomed to take the lead when his old man retires. Although it is hinted at towards the film’s end, Indy makes it known he isn’t quite ready to hand over his fedora.
Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull had me from the get go. I loved this new chapter in the series and expect the film to be a huge summer blockbuster, easily recouping the $185 million production cost.
So, movie goers of all ages, especially Indy fans, sit back and get ready for two hours and fifteen minutes of terrific escapism and pure fun. It took almost two decades for the brilliant filmmakers to deliver this treasure, but it was worth the wait.