Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett,
Ray Winstone, Karen Allen, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent
RunTime: 2 hrs 4 mins
Released By: UIP
Official Website: http://www.indianajones.com/
of "INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL"
Opening Day: 22 May 2008
The newest Indiana Jones adventure begins in the desert Southwest
in 1957 – the height of the Cold War. Indy and his sidekick
Mac (Ray Winstone) have barely escaped a close scrape with
nefarious Soviet agents on a remote airfield.
Professor Jones has returned home to Marshall College –
only to find things have gone from bad to worse. His close
friend and dean of the college (Jim Broadbent) explains that
Indy's recent activities have made him the object of suspicion,
and that the government has put pressure on the university
to fire him. On his way out of town, Indiana meets rebellious
young Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), who carries both a grudge and a
proposition for the adventurous archaeologist: If he'll help
Mutt on a mission with deeply personal stakes, Indy could
very well make one of the most spectacular archaeological
finds in history – the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary
object of fascination, superstition and fear.
as Indy and Mutt set out for the most remote corners of Peru
– a land of ancient tombs, forgotten explorers and a
rumored city of gold – they quickly realize they are
not alone in their search. The Soviet agents are also hot
on the trail of the Crystal Skull. Chief among them is icy
cold, devastatingly beautiful Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett),
whose elite military unit is scouring the globe for the eerie
Crystal Skull, which they believe can help the Soviets dominate
the world... if they can unlock its secrets.
and Mutt must find a way to evade the ruthless Soviets, follow
an impenetrable trail of mystery, grapple with enemies and
friends of questionable motives, and, above all, stop the
powerful Crystal Skull from falling into the deadliest of
“We shall do this the old fashioned way” proclaimed
the evil Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett).
Steven Spielberg and co-creator George Lucas tries hard to
duplicate the success of the earlier three movies in “The
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” with dire results. Before
I venture further, on a personal note, I was still in my primary
school when I first caught “Raiders of the Lost Ark”
and just entered secondary for “The Last Crusade”.
Indiana Jones to me was the ultimate modern day action hero,
possessing both wit and brawn. He has been my screen idol
for years. 19 years after their last adventure outing, I sit
in anticipation for possibly the last one by led by Dr Henry
Jones Jr aka Indiana Jones.
I no longer saw the familiar Indiana Jones. Yes, Harrison
Ford despite the numerous wrinkles still carries the smirk
and charm of the famous archaeologist well. But hell, what
happens to his wit? Does old age got to do with it? No but
I got to attribute it to David Koepp who is responsible for
the screenplay. Koepp has written big tent-pole projects (“Spider-Man”)
and collaborated with Spielberg on “Jurassic Park”,
“War of the Worlds” in the past. Despite his glowing
achievements, Koepp’s works tend to be less creative
than his peers, he is should I say, the “patcher”
for Spielberg. Taking the various drafts by Frank Darabont
(“The Mist”), Jeff Nathanson (“Catch Me
If You Can”) and presumably Lucas’s inputs, Koepp’s
job is to come up with a coherent screenplay for Spielberg
to work on. The result is pretty apparent on the screen. The
enjoyment in watching Indy deciphering the actual location
of the city of gold in “Skull” is lumbering as
compared to him finding the Ark of the Covenant or the Holy
be fair, “The Last Crusade” was pretty much a
rehash of “Ark”. “The Temple of Doom”
was deemed to be too dark from the entire franchise thus Spielberg
cranked up the ‘fun’ factor back in “Crusade”.
The tank chase was similar to the horse chase in “Ark”.
The introduction of Henry Jones Sr (Sean Connery) was sort
of a replacement to the memorable Marion Ravenwood (Karen
Allen). There was never sort of a creative jerk to the entire
series. With “Skull”, the introduction of Mutt
Williams (Shia LeBeouf) as Indy’s sidekick and (spoiler)
son, offspring of Indy Jones and Ravenwood is another matter
altogether. Our dear old George Lucas has hinted that Mutt
will replace Indy Jones in the near future. Now this is sacrilegious.
I love Shia, love him in “Transformers but he should
remain there. “Transformers” is his turf not “Indiana
Jones”. In “Skull”, you can see that Mutt
Williams plays a big role in the movie’s jungle chase
action sequence. He gets to spar with Irina Spalko, he gets
to hop around vehicles and yikes, swings with digital monkeys.
Indiana Jones himself has taken a backseat, no longer the
star attraction. I thought “short round” was a
nicer sidekick, at least we knew his presence but not to the
extent of overtaking Indy.
thing, we knew so well that Indy must lay his hands on some
reptiles or rats and even though he has some brushes with
digital gigantic ants (leftover programs from ILM, think "Mummy")
here, the exhilarating feel is no longer the same. Spielberg
tries his very best to shoot the old-fashioned way, old school
but with advance technology available (with his best friend
Lucas onboard, you think you can avoid that), gone are the
exotic location shoots and the matte paintings and in place
is lots and lots of digital set extensions and digital monkeys
(think "Jumanji") and ants. Nothing in my opinion
can replace real, raw locations. This is not “Star Wars”
we are talking about here. An archaeologist got to step out
of the library, ironically I quote this from Indy in “Skulls”.
plotting did pick up a little with Ravenwood making an appearance.
To see her bickering with Indy brings a sense of nostalgia.
Ray Winstone as the double-crossing Mac has few things to
show and his only memorable dialogue is “Jonesy”.
I wouldn’t classify Cate Blanchett’s performance
as over-the-top, just that her villain character is on the
weaker side of things.
a summer blockbuster, “Skulls” succeeds to entertain
the usual crop of cinema audience. It’s loud, fun and
cheesy in the same fashion as “The Mummy”. The
opening sequence at Area 51 shows Spielberg at his best but
on the whole as an Indiana Jones’ entry, it fails miserably.
Lacking impressive plotting (X-Files could have done it better),
depth and filled with CG enhanced action pieces, it looks
like Stephen Sommers or Rob Cohen were the ones who helmed
it but coming out from the hands of two famous movie gurus,
the bearded duo should stop churning out Indiana Jones’s
adventures and simply let the man with the hat and whip bask
in his past glory.
(Indiana Jones IV goes on to prove why it's time for Indy
to hang up his hat and whip)
Review by Linus Tee