It’s exactly as you have heard; Dr. Henry Jones Jr., better known as “Indiana” or “Indy,” is back. Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth film in a George Lucas story depicting the amazing archeological action of an academic docent and adventurer, continues the franchise of protecting strange and powerful relics from America’s enemies.
Of course, the film’s setting has progressed from the previous era when Indy would battle Hitler driven Nazis and their greedy archeologists attempting to pilfer religious artifacts. Now the year is 1957, and Cold War Soviets are heading their own. Dr. Jones must protect the security of America and all nations once again.
The adventure begins with Indy having to find an object – recovered from Roswell, New Mexico ten years prior – hidden in a federal site to give to his Russian captors. Dr. Jones then narrowly escapes using his wits, fists, and whip, but now must uncover what the true interest of the Soviets is.
During his adventure, Indiana reunites with and rescues old friends such as Merion Ravenwood, Indy’s love interest from Raiders of the Lost Ark, who was captured while tracking down the Reds and piecing together the artifact’s secrets in the jungles of South America.
The return of Indiana Jones is quite appealing when first heard, conjuring up some of the most famous scenes in the past three movies, but the movie falls a bit short of taking an equal role in the series. The plot really doesn’t hold the bang the other films brought to the big screen. Where the other films were filled with the greatest thrills and suspense, this movie is quite lacking in edge-of-your-seat excitement.
This plot may have twists and turns, but it never has the classic obstacles where Jones, after falling entirely off the trail and being beaten down by his rivals, works his way back to retake the lead. That aspect was sorely missed in this show where every rough patch merely segues to the next tight spot. I would mark the story akin to a roller coaster that had no loops just a designated number of not-so-high hills.
However, one of the bright spots of the movie is how well Harrison Ford can still crack the whip. After nineteen years, I would have thought Ford might have needed the pace slowed, but instead he pulls on his fedora and retakes the spotlight. He does a great job of demonstrating the amazing abilities of Indy to a new audience, inexperienced in his previous heroics.
The return of Karen Allen as his love interest was also refreshing, and Shia LaBeouf did well in the back-and-forths with Ford on the screen.
Steven Spielberg’s directing was very fine, even though there were some reality-questioning shots, and he did well in presenting the jungles and included a car fight reminiscent of previous Jones adventures.
This is an enjoyable movie for relaxing in the theater and escaping this summer’s heat, but don’t expect to be really drawn into anything but the action. I hope new audiences will use Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as a springboard to delve into the first three of Indiana Jones’ adventures and unlock the treasure there as well.