It doesn’t suck! It doesn’t soar! It’s ordinary!
I just saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull an hour ago. A full review will follow later. For now, hear this: Harrison Ford can still rock a fedora and bullwhip like nobody’s business as the globe-trotting archaeologist Indiana Jones, but there’s something off and smugly old-fartish about the fourth chapter in the Indy franchise. Everything looks raided from the lost ark of the three previous Indy hits. What’s worse is that after a smashing opener involving Ford’s Indy getting captured by Russians in Nevada, circa 1957, the film starts piling on atomic subplots as if every new detail could earn extra credit.
It’s a cliché overload. After nineteen years of wrangling between producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg to craft just the right script for Indy 4, they came up with this? By midpoint, the movie starts to play like National Treasure meets the X-Files, and I mean neither comparison as a compliment. Luckily, Ford, 65, is in fine, feisty fettle. And he has scrappy fun mixing it up with Shia LaBeouf, who is terrific as Mutt, the biker kid who joins Indy on a mission to find the Crystal dildo or whatever the hell it is. “What are you, like, eighty?” asks Mutt, an insult he has to eat after a motocycle chase that shows gramps still has what it takes. It’s also good seeing Karen Allen return as Marion Ravenwood, Mutt’s mom and Indy’s love in the unbeatable Raiders of the Lost Ark. Some have hinted Mutt might be Indy’s kid. Ya think? Cate Blanchett goes butch as Russian military scientist Irina Spalko with an accent that conjures up Rocky and Bullwinkle more than the desired menace. And how many computer-generated prairie dogs and killer ants can you see before familiarity breeds contempt? Top props go to the superior stunt work — Watch that waterfall! Catch that duel between Mutt and Irina astride two speeding jeeps! I’d trade all the paranormal mumbo-jumbo and space aliens for a few more scenes that connected the characters on a human level. Those looking for resolution or resonance in Indy 4 are doomed to the temple of disappointment. Spielberg and Lucas aren’t upping their creative game, they’re taking care of business.