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  Publicity Stills of
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull "
(Courtesy from UIP)

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
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.indianajones.com/

Soundtrack: Review of "INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL" Official Soundtrack

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.

Now, 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.

But 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.

Indy 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 hands.

Movie Review:

“We shall do this the old fashioned way” proclaimed the evil Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett).

Indeed, 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.

Unfortunately, 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 Grail.

To 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.

Another 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”.

The 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.

As 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.

Movie Rating:

(Indiana Jones IV goes on to prove why it's time for Indy to hang up his hat and whip)

Review by Linus Tee


. Nim's Island (2008)

. National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)

. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)

. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006)

. National Treasure (2004)

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