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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

August 30, 2010

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett

Synopsis: Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is on a hunt for the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, with the Soviets in hot pursuit….

Review: One would have thought that for Steven Spielberg to have finally brought the Indiana Jones franchise back out of his box of tricks some nineteen years after the last instalment, he must have had some novelistic ideas for rebooting the character. Instead, the story is surprisingly unexciting and laboured, inviting cynical readings of the project’s existence as a mere easy payday for the studio, Spielberg and Ford. On paper the one thing that would seemingly hamper the story – namely that Harrison Ford was in his mid-sixties by the time of production – is one of the least objectionable aspects of the film. His age is not covered up but if anything is played for laughs, and his character’s feats have always been of such a fantastical nature that suspension of disbelief remains the prime currency for viewing an Indiana Jones film. By creating a role for Shia LaBeouf as Indiana’s long-lost son, Spielberg is able to palm off some of the more physical stunts anyway, and Ford’s laconic persona still works nicely whether he be in his forties, fifties, or sixties.

Where the film really disappoints is in its role as spectacle (the CGI-sequences have a dull and distancing effect), which is how the three previous instalments are best remembered. Equally cobbled is the negligible plot – something about Soviets trying to get hold of crystal skulls in Peru that will accord them ultimate power over the world – and the lack of any interesting enemies. Though a capable technical actress, Cate Blanchett fails to register any discernible sense of threat or evil as the Soviet über-villain, and seems stuck behind the unnecessary mannerisms of her cod-Russian accent. (August 2009)

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