Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

In the summer of 1985, as I was trying to escape the heat on my vacation, I ducked into a movie theatre in Avignon, France. The movie was entitled Indiana Jones und der Temple des Todes. Yes, in German with no subtitles. I figured that, since I'd already seen the movie in English, I would still enjoy it in German. I did, although Indy's bass voice was a tad disconcerting.

You don't need to understand the plot in an Indiana Jones picture, although dialogue is important if just to get the wry witticisms cast off by Jones and his buddies. So, what are the iconic pieces to this Raiders of the Lost Ark puzzle, what are we looking for in an Indiana Jones film?

The hat
The whip
The stirring music
The beautiful girlfriend and/or femme fatale
Lots of chases
Old civilizations and their artifacts, most of which will fall on Indy at some point.

Check them all. They're all here. The movie seems a bit too long because of a rather long and unnecessary introduction which tells us which time we're in. I enjoyed seeing an entire world of fifties' teenagers, but I didn't need to see it over and over in the first half hour. And the fact that we're on two expeditions makes the movie drag a bit as we get lost in the plotlines.

But the larger-than-life characters make up for all that. We love it when Professor Henry Jones puts on the hat and "becomes" his own character, Indiana Jones. When he tosses off a line like, "I've got a bad feeling about this," we heave a sigh of relief, for Harrison Ford is perfect as the adventurer-slash-professor who doesn't trust people easily for good reason. The story doesn't ignore the fact that a few years have gone by, and characters mention it from time to time. While Ford is looking a bit old in the part, his body is certainly in shape for this latest of adventures. Indeed, I heard that Ford fit into his old outfit without any needed alterations after 19 years.

And new villain Irina Spalko (played by Cate Blanchett) is larger-than-life if that term means rather cartoonish. She's no Rosa Klebb (from James Bond's "From Russia with Love"), and the only frightening thing about her is that black wig. And maybe the Russian accent. All the action stops when she appears onscreen, and everything slows down, but I think that's a good thing: it allows us to catch our breath, wonder what is really going on here, and gives us a black-wigged target at which to throw our venom.

Will new fans accept this older Indy? Yes, I think so, especially with the addition of Shia LaBoeuf as Marion Ravenwood's son. And how cool that Spielberg and Lucas brought back Karen Allen, a no-plastic-surgery-for-me almost-retired actress in her 50's as Marion! I was floored by that addition, obviously not the normal practice in movies.

I stayed for the lengthy credits in this one just so that I could see the name "Megan Rible" listed under the "Digital Artists" category for ILM (George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic special effects company). Megan is the daughter of Francean and Chuck Rible. And Francean was my former boss; the proud mother made sure she let me know about Megan's new achievement.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a great summer movie, mixing comedy, adventure, and good-time feelings for all of us to enjoy.

Thumbs up!


At 2:23 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

I actually got to see a movie in the theaters (that wasn't Harry Potter) I went with my partner, brother, kids and nephews so the group age range was 8 to mid-40's. We all loved it.

The plot was even thinner and sillier than past IJ exploits (aliens? puh-leeze) but who cares? as you said it all the required elements. I really enjoyed to references to other movies (glimpse of the ark, the snake!)

It was kind of fun watching it in Vegas, not too far from the test site.

I was also thrilled to see Karen Allan looking like a living beautiful middle-aged woman rather than the plastic sweet young things that older men in movies often to end up with.

well, back to Netflix.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

p.s. I loved the plugs for education and how the image of a "professor" changed for Mud over the course of the movie. I also had to laugh at Indy's change in attitude once he realized that Mud was his son - he switched real quick from "follow your dream" to "go to school"

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Melinda said...

I really enjoyed this film! Sure, it was a thin plot, but to see Indiana Jones in action again was GREAT! I loved Karen Allen. Thumbs up for sure!


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