Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dr. Jones is Back With Aliens

Since it was released on DVD, I dug up my old review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the type of movie we all starve for. After summers filled with comedies that aren’t funny; horror movies that bring unwanted terror into our lives, mostly for how bad they are; and anything starring tweens in roles that are two much for them. Indiana Jones makes it all better by allowing all of us to be kids again and you’ll be jumping out of your seat as another adventure with Dr. Jones unfolds.
The movie is set in 1957, which will make it 19 years after The Last Crusade (1989). Henry Jones Jr., played by Harrison Ford, is still teaching at fictional Marshall College and is still going on adventures.
In this movie, we learn in the years that we have left him, he has become a master spy and American hero; this is good because Indy is going to need all that experience to compete against the communists, who are led by one of Stalin’s most respected scientists, Irina Spalko, played by Cate Blanchett.
Spalko is searching for the legendary artifact known as the Crystal Skull. The skull is said to have an immense power and riches to whoever returns it to its proper resting spot in a lost city in the middle of the Amazon.
Spalko comes to a dead end and realizes she needs Jones to lead her and her brigade of soldiers into the lost city. This is only after one of Jones old friends, Prof. Harold Oxely, played by John Hurt, may have found the skull and city, but Spalko can never put his riddled clues together and she hopes Jones can.
As the adventure begins, we see the FBI investigating Jones, causing him to lose his job, and the communists trailing him everywhere he goes. While this is all happening. Jones meets up with Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf, who brings a letter from someone in Indy’s past, who had been working closely with Professor Oxley. The letter is of course a riddle and once Jones cracks it, Jones and Mutt are off on another Indiana Jones adventure with whip in hand.
Stopping here without revealing anymore of the plot, just know that there are little surprises through the whole thing, so keep your eyes and ears open. Now let’s discuss where the movie stands in this very thrilling adventure series.
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does not stray at all from the style of the previous films, it’s a throwback to the 1930s serial movies and it does not forget that. This film never concerns itself with being serious and not like many movies today it allows itself to be just fun and non-realistic. If you go into this movie looking for a dark, older Indy then you don’t know what Indiana Jones is; if you just go in with keeping the older films on your mind you will see all the beauty the movie offers.
Steven Spielberg, of course, returns to the franchise as the director. Spielberg, who has not made a film like this in years, succeeds on numerous levels. He makes sure that he has the perfect amounts of humor, danger, action and, of course, camp. He also brings back true elements of the series that will always be remembered in this franchise such as when Indiana Jones travels we see it drawn out on a map as we see a plane move along its path in the background.
The other great element is the good, old-fashioned action with stuntmen and not computers.
This movie will settle for a fist fight rather than an overly complex computer generated scene. Don’t get me wrong this movie does have computer animation, but not much where it’s over the top.
In addition to the movie’s elements, we still get the same sense of mystery when we go with Indiana Jones to parts of the world that few have explored. A great thing about this movie is Indy is a character that does not use Google, Wikipedia or MapQuest to get to the places where he is going or to crack riddles he’s trying to solve. Indiana has studied for years upon years and has acquired all his knowledge himself. He has to be his own Internet and that’s what we should all respect him for.
The true fans of the series will love to see all the little details thrown into the movie, which act like a tribute to those who can’t be a part of this one. Another cool things I actually getting to hear tidbits about what Indy has been doing during his absence, such as being master spy and American hero. But he also has taken in part of some other things most notably aftermath of the Roswell crash. This is great because it makes Indy feel like a real person.
Harrison Ford is the man who makes this movie special, making us forget he is 65 years old. He never pretends to be young and we hear remarks made about his age, Ford still makes Indy fun, smart and fresh as he was in the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
The only negatives about this film is the villain, Spalko, never really takes off and she never becomes a fully rounded character; the editing in the film can be too quick and left me, a few times, wondering how we got here; and there is one scene in the movie that involves a character swinging from vines like Tarzan.
All and all, the movie is solid even though the ending may be too out there for some people and also for some Indy fans. Yet, this has been one of the best ways to introduce a beloved hero to a new generation.


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