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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Retrospective Review


1981 - 1984 - 1989 - 2008
It had been a long time since I saw an Indiana Jones movie. I remember what it was like to see The Last Crusade in the theatres and still have the newspaper clippings in a scrapbook. Until last weekend's Showcase movie marathon of Indiana Jones, I have not seen Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It was quite a treat to see all four movies in widescreen. The quality of the first three movies still hold up after twenty somewhat years. The melting faces of the Nazis, being destroyed by the ark, never ceases to creep me out.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull takes place some 19 years later. Indy is literally thrown into the nuclear age, along with one helluva mushroom cloud. Colonel Henry Jones, Jr., we learn, was an operative with the OSS and key in the recovery of some advanced alien artifacts, which was why the Russians became interested in him. Indiana, always the professor, is ready to lapse into exposition and handy with a lecture. And wow. Does this role ever make Harrison Ford youthful. Only complaint is that Indy had better action, on the back of Mutt's motorcycle, on campus grounds than when he was in the jungles. After this many years he still hasn't overcome his phobia of snakes. That fear made it one of the funnier scenes in the movie.
Mutt: Grab the snake!
Indiana: Stop calling it that!
Mutt: It's a snake! What do you want me to call it?
Indiana: Say "rope."
Mutt: What?
Indiana: Say "Grab the rope"!
Mutt/Marion: Grab the rope!
Mutt Williams appeared on screen the first time looking like Marlon Brando, but the similarities end the moment he spoke. He doesn't have the same tough guy exterior as Brando. Having grew up with Marion and Harold Oxley, he was probably too well educated to be any old "greaser". Some of Shia LaBeouf delivery just fell flat. I don't know if it was intentional or playing Indy's son was just not his best role.

Col. Dr. Irina Spalko was an interesting character. The sword and sunglasses were a little over-the-top. I may not be well read on Russian hierarchy, but would a woman be holding such a position of power. Indy making fun of her accent being the worse thing anyone would say to her really downplays her as a lead villain. Since I watched without reading a synopsis, it took a while for me to realize it was Cate Blanchett under that little black wig.

I wasn't sure what to make of it after just one viewing. It took 3 or 4 times to see all of it. Like the other movies, it would mean missing the action sequences. The biggest throwaway scene, that had nothing to do with the plot, would have to be Mutt swinging through the jungle with a bunch of monkeys. That was one of the many CGI visual effects in this film. I give it credit for not delving into the unknown. I am satisfied with leaving who these beings are a mystery at the end.

Overall I rate this 7 out 10.
I would want to watch it again.
If they ever make another one, I would love to see someone younger else play Indiana Jones.

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