Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of Crystal Skull

It's been a while since Harrison Ford dawned Indy's dusty Fedora and signature whip--nearly two decades in fact. But Indiana Jones fans you needn't worry! Although Ford maybe old enough to get a senior citizen discount to see his own movie, he's not escaping peril or villainous world dominators by flashing an AARP card in this new Spielberg-Lucas installment, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Yes, Harrison is older, but Indy's still got it--that certain swagger we expect of a legendary hero; even his hat is iconic. It makes an entrance in the film before he does and for a moment I was reminded of Micheal Jackson's famous fedora in the Billie Jean music video. And now that I think about it, if MJ can make a brief comeback with a revamped "thriller" why can't HF?

In Skull we're taken back to 1957, to the backdrops of "Happy Days" and "Grease". And nothing represents the blast from the past more than Shia LeBeouf as Mutt Williams, a Fonz-slash-James Dean incarnation complete with leather jacket, cool motorcycle, and hair that never moves but is always ready to be combed. Aaaayyyyy! He's undoubtedly a young reflection of Indy and the two work well together. And by movie's end there's a hint Indy may be ready to pass on the proverbial dusty hat and whip to the next generation.

Like most action adventures the film starts off "running." Indy and his British buddy, Mac (Ray Winstone), have been kidnapped by the Russians to help them find what the U.S. government has been hiding in a desert hanger for several years. Think Roswell's Hanger 54 and Close Encounters and you'll get the picture?

Of course, after escaping the Russians Indy returns to his full time job as college professor of archaeology at Marshall College. There Mutt introduces himself to Indy and informs him that a mutual friend and colleague has been kidnapped along with this mother while on quest to find the Crystal Skull of Akator. According to legend, the skull has special powers and was stolen from the Amazon's mythical City of Gold. Whoever returns it to it's rightful owner receives control over it's powers, which is why the Russians want it. To help locate the City and her whereabouts, Mutt's mother managed to send him a coded letter that only Indy can decifer.

Although the skull looks like a big, cumbersome flash bulb, it holds the key to unlimited knowledge once possessed by super intelligent crystal creatures that inhabited the earth centuries before. And too look at it you would never guess that it's a great bug repellent too! But if the skull reveals all it knows to you, it may have to kill you. Just ask the Russian female Stalin-esque leader, Irena Spalko (Cate Blanchette). She finds out the hard way, it's not good to know everything.

Overall, Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls was everything I expected to be--action packed with long chase scenes, plenty of stunts and special effects, and elements of humor. Calling it predictable may be a little harsh, but if the fedora fits wear it. On the other hand, sometimes being unsurprising is good. At least you know you're getting exactly what you're paying for and Indy definitely delivers the goods.

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