That was not the actual title, I just thought I’d better put a warning up in front. “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” premiered on wednesday in Berlin. I was going to write a lengthy review, but why bother – if you want to see an enjoyable performance by Harrison Ford and assorted cast then go see the movie, if you feel that you cannot tolerate a plot that is stupid even by the expansive standards of the Indiana Jones Franchise then by all means avoid it. Still, to ask if the fourth Indie movie could possibly be as fresh and original as “Raiders of the lost Ark” misses the point as far as I am concerned.
Back then in the 1980s I became a fan of Indiana Jones because – well, actually I didn’t; until wednesday I’d never seen an Indiana Jones movie at the cinema. I caught up with the movies in their endless cycle of reruns on television, picking up the first bit here and the last bit there, and everything in between on several other occasions, and it wasn’t until the 90s that Indie became a permanent fixture in my life. So when I finally went to see him on the big screen it was a bit of a family reunion. Indiana and I had aged together, and if the old man could still pull up stunts in yet another sequel then, by extension, so can I. I’m happy to say Uncle Jones did alright.
So, here’s a list of things that sucked and rocked in the movie:
- incoherent plot
- indians, mayans and general other cultures are just decoration instead of, well, cultures
- to much Däniken-esk alien-crap in the storyline
- Fights, flights and lots of action
- Cate Blanchett as communist she-thug
- Karen Allen. Seriously.
Stephanie Zacharek, movie critic at salon.com writes about Allen that “her performance is like joy let out of a box”. That’s true and the joy is all mine. Call it an early midlife crises, but as I get older the idea of homecoming is just as welcome as embarking for an adventure, and what better to come home to than a friendly face. Karen Allen is so radiant in this movie that for a moment I forgot she was only acting, and if that’s not a compliment for an actress then I don’t know what is.
- a remarkably unobtrusive Shia LaBeouf as Henry Jones III
- Nuclear Explosions, man-eating ants, russian villians and other speedbumpers for our favourite archeologist. Oddly enough the russians look far more anachronistic than the Nazis in the previous movies.
Of course “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is reactionary tripe – a reconstituted Jones family fights evil communists who have undermined the USA to an extent where they can drive in platoon strength right into a military base (so the Mccarthyists at the start of the movie probably weren’t paranoid after all). But Indie movies have always been also a vacation from reason, and political correctness because, while we all know that the world is a complex and difficult place we sometimes wish it wasn’t.