Length: 122 minutes
Release Date: May 22, 2008
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action / Adventure
The Indiana Jones movies of the 1980s are some of the most iconic adventure films ever created, following the adventurous archaeologist as he travels to remote locations and faces formidable enemies in order to rescue ancient artifacts. The 2008 film “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” reveals an older Indy who’s forced back into the field when an old friend goes missing. He soon encounters an unexpected ally and a woman from his past as he searches for his friend and a mysterious crystal skull.
In the beginning of the film, Colonel Irina Spalko leads a team of Soviet agents in infiltrating a remote military base, using the captive Indiana Jones and his partner Mac to lead them to the remains of a mysterious aircraft crash in Roswell. After leading the Soviets to the crate holding the remains, he manages to escape. He then ends up at a nuclear testing site in the middle of the desert. He’s nearly killed by a nuclear explosion, but he manages to get away with only a few scratches. Upon his return to Marshall College, he discovers he’s at the heart of an FBI investigation resulting from the incident, and he takes a leave of absence.
Things aren’t looking up for the elderly Jones, but he’s soon drawn back into the world of adventure when a young greaser named Mutt approaches him wanting to talk. They head to a diner, and Mutt explains that Professor Oxley, his mentor and Indiana’s long-time friend, had gone missing when exploring the Nasca lines of Peru. The two follow the tracks of Oxley, heading to Peru and discovering the psychiatric hospital where he was kept. They follow the clues left by Oxley in his old cell, eventually discovering an ancient tomb holding a strange crystal skull.
Unfortunately, Spalko and her Soviet team catch up to Indy, capturing them and taking possession of the skull. At the camp, they find the captive Oxley disheveled and driven insane by the skull, and they also find a captive Marion, Mutt’s mother. Spalko believes the skull has psychic properties, and she wants to test its effects on Indy. However, the adventurer is already planning their escape. They manage to get away following a high-speed car chase through the jungle, and a few of the Soviets meet a terrifying demise. Despite this setback, Spalko won’t stop until she takes the power of the skull for herself.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is especially exciting for fans of the original film series, introducing the same shocking action scenes, well-placed humor and suspenseful adventures that made the original “Indiana Jones” films into beloved classics. Spielberg returns in all his glory to this favorite franchise, and the storytelling is paced in a way that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats from beginning to end. The story itself has the perfect element of mystery, and the 1950s setting works well for the film.
Although he may be well past his prime artifact-saving days, Harrison Ford reprises his role as the professor/adventurer Indiana Jones, returning to the screen with plenty of spark. Cate Blanchett is perfectly intimidating as the villainous Irina Spalko, and Karen Allen adds an element of sentimentality with her appearance as Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s original love interest.
Although the film begins with a lot of promise, its rise to greatness is hindered by a few glaring drawbacks. For instance, the movie introduces some sci-fi elements that don’t quite fit the Indiana Jones universe, and the plot itself is at times too messy to follow. The film also uses a great deal of CGI. This aspect takes away from the raw, gritty action that had much more impact in previous Indy movies.
Despite these flaws, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a much better film than most fans will admit. The sci-fi element may be irritating for devoted followers of the original films, which always featured ancient supernatural elements to explain the artifacts. However, the ending of this film perfectly fits the story being told. Also, despite his age, Harrison Ford brings back the adventurous character of Indiana Jones with plenty of spark.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” may not be on the same playing field as the original films, but it’s still a fun adventure that’s sure to keep viewers entertained. The returning actors are brilliant, and Spielberg’s directing makes it feel like a genuine Indiana Jones movie.
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