Toon Talk: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
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by Kirby C. Holt
(c) Paramount Pictures
And the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Twenty-seven years ago, on movie screens all over the world, a hero was born, and his name was Indiana Jones. Inspired by the swashbuckling adventurers of the past, this hero was a classic in every sense of the word: honorable, intelligent, patriotic, even a little rough around the edges. As brought to life in the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark by director Steven Spielberg, producer George Lucas and actor Harrison Ford, Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. embodied heroism for many a moviegoer in the summer of 1981 … and beyond.
(c) Paramount Pictures
And although his follow up film adventures (his trip to the Temple of Doom in 1984, his so-called Last Crusade in 1989) may have failed to live up to the pure wonder and adrenalin of his first escapade (at least in my eyes), his stature as one of the great movie heroes has never wavered (he was even named the number two movie hero of all time in an American Film Institute poll in 2003). Through the years, a television series, comic books, video games and Disney theme park attractions have been added to the mix, and now, nineteen years after his last big screen adventure, the man with the whip is back in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (in theaters now).
Does the new film live up to the legacy of Raiders? Not quite, but it isn’t a poke in the eye like Lucas’ Star Wars prequels either. What it is is a fun thrill ride of a movie that only really jumps the tracks at its somewhat preposterous climax; but in the meantime, it delivers a rollicking cinematic adventure that should satisfy most fans who’ve been jonesing for this particular brand of Indy action for almost twenty years now.
As in real time, the fourth film is set nineteen years after the events of the last one, which means Indy now finds himself in the “fabulous” 50’s, the era of rock ‘n’ roll, communist witch hunts, A-bomb scares and “watch the skies” paranoia. However, like a cowboy reaching the end of the frontier, he ain’t about to drift off into the sunset just yet, as he starts this adventure tangled up with a batch of treasure-hunting Soviets (the de facto boogie men of the Cold War era), led by the saber-wielding Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, in thigh-high leather boots and a fierce pageboy bob). The “Holy Grail” this time is a mythological crystal skull of unknown (possibly other-worldly) origin with ties to a former archeological colleague of Indy’s, one (slightly mad) Professor Oxley (John Hurt).
When Oxley goes missing, Indy is called on the case by a motorcycle-riding, leather-jacket wearing Wild One who goes by the name Mutt Williams (former Disney Channel star Shia LaBeouf, who has outgrown his awkward stage now and is maturing nicely as a movie star). The unlikely dynamic duo end up in Peru, smack dab in the middle of the bad guys again, where they are joined by a significant figure from Indy’s past, the one and only Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, looking fresh-faced and ready for action), who turns out to be the mother of Indy’s newest sidekick … who just may be a little more then that as well.