Film Reviews

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (VICTORIA)

By • Jun 8th, 2008 •

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Its not OCEAN’S 12 or 13! You’ll love it. And Ford keeps his shirt on.

Mutt to Indy: “What are you, like 80 years old?”

John Hurt, who plays Indy’s colleague in the film, disdains the flick and executive producer George Lucas. “It’s cops-and-robbers stuff,” Hurt told the Times of London. “And it’s all to make Mr. Lucas an extra billion, as if he needs it.”

Perhaps Hurt liked the paycheck but not the part. It’s as if the guy from MIDNIGHT EXPRESS wandered into Indy’s world mumbling and peeing in his pants.

Outside of that last image, I loved it! Yes, we waited 20 years for this, but it was well worth it. You get everything you want, extreme chaos, big fight scenes, clever dialogue, strange ruins, mythology, and a perfect villainess in Cate Blanchett.

I’m not at all happy about the “hat-over” to the next INDIANA JONES. Unfortunately, it’s Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s personal pick, Shia LaBeouf. (Howard Hughes created Jean Harlow, Spielberg-Lucas have LaBeouf.) He’s not sexy enough or tough enough to take over the Indiana Jones mantel. He’s got a dumb look about him and irregular, non-leading man features.

A Hollywood insider once told me: “All you need is a powerful agent.”

There are enough visual nods for the initiated, and even though the target audience has grandfathers Harrison Ford’s age, the dusty locations, dirt and grime, and the savage fights allow a roughed-up looking Ford to play his age and you accept it! You don’t want to see a pretty boy get messed up.

Here’s my spin on the far-flung skull/alien story: Dr. Jones (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick Mac McHale (RayWinstone) are kidnapped and brought to the U.S. top-secret military location that, as we all remember from THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, is the Spielberg homage warehouse where the Ark of the Covenant is stored. It’s barely guarded. The evil Russians, headed by Stalin’s favorite sadist but fetching, psychic terrorist named Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), aren’t looking for that treasure. They know Indy was at the 1947 crash at Roswell and they want that crate – not the other one. Indy should know where it is.

We get to look inside the crate, and Indy escapes with the help of the rocket left over from DR. STRANGELOVE.

Fired or taking a sabbatical from his university professorship, and being “a person of FBI interest” for getting involved with Cold War Soviets, Indy attempts to leave town but is stopped by a Marlon Brando-wannabe, Mutt (Shia LaBeouf). His mother sent him to get a letter to Indy. Mary (Karen Allen) is being held hostage in South America and is being held as ransom for the directions to the Crystal Skull of Akator. Indy is the only one who can dope out the secret drawings on a torn-up treasure map.

Indy knows all about the mythical history surrounding the Crystal Skull (I know people who have seen the famous Mitchell-Hedges skull and said it produced dangerous physical effects). Indy knows the history of the Nazca Lines (a series of huge geoglyphs that can only be seen from the sky in Peru, which I have flown over) as they go from Iquitos to Cusco (I’ll be speaking in Iquitos in July on the subject of Medieval Mysticism and its Empirical Kinship to Ayahuasca.)

Irina and her thugs are always one step behind Indy as he gets the skull, loses it, gets the skull back, loses it, gets the skull back and so forth and so on.

The ending, another homage to Spielberg, was a huge disappointment. Not in the story, but in the way it was conceived, choreographed and directed. Did we really need to be reminded of that iconic figure – unless Spielberg is suggesting that Leonardo Da Vinci is thought to have embedded a cryptic message in The Last Supper?

I don’t know what Harrison Ford was waiting for, or what financial deal held up Indy 4 for so long. He seems like a good sport and he does his alter-ego just fine.

In summation, you will see this more than once.

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