Action/Adventure (US); 2008; Rated PG-13
for adventure violence and scary images; Running
Time: 122 Minutes
Col. Dr. Irina Spalko
George 'Mac' McHale
Professor Harold 'Ox' Oxley
Kathleen Kennedy, George Lucas, Kristie Macosko Krieger,
Frank Marshall, Denis L. Stewart and Flávio R. Tambellini;
Directed by Steven Spielberg; Written
by David Koepp; based on the story by Jeff
Nathanson and George Lucas
Domestic Release Date:
May 23, 2008
by DAVID M. KEYES
things that come to mind when watching the new "Indy"
It has been nearly 20 years since the last installment into
the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg franchise that solidified
Harrison Ford as a Hollywood action star. For those that
express concern and/or confusion over the prospect of a
movie hero being dusted off and revived so long after the
fact, we should remind you that the resurgence of the aged
action star is but a new hot commodity in Hollywood. Otherwise,
how does one explain the rousing success of recent return
ventures into film franchises like "Rocky," "Rambo"
and "Die Hard?"
Contrary to what many avid fans of this franchise might
say, it is not the skill of the screenplay that drives this
series, but rather the ability on part of the director and
stars to fully embrace the absurdity of their premise and
go full-force with cheese and kitsch. The Indiana Jones
movie are above all else enjoyable because they are ridiculous,
and completely joyful in being so. Once you keep that thought
in mind, the idea of a fourth movie begins to work.
All ageist jokes aside, Harrison Ford really is in a different
class than most of his contemporaries when it comes to retaining
a youthful presence on screen. Other than his hair color
and the deeper frown, no one watching the movie consciously
thinks of him as being in his mid-60s, a virtue to a series
in which the hero, even after time, is required to be physically
able to withstand any obstacle that is thrown at him.
Shia LeBouf may be ordinary by young actor's standards,
but boy does this kid have presence! Every time we see him
in a movie, we are consciously aware of him and what he
is doing. Did Spielberg recognize this as a virtue to his
casting in "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" because
Ford's career is essentially structured with the same reasoning?
Possibly. Either way, I'd gladly watch any number of Indy
flicks beyond this point if LeBouf were guaranteed the spot
of witty sidekick in all of them. It's an ideal match.
Cate Blanchett has effectively mastered the last remaining
major accent of any serious actress' career, playing a Russian
espionage agent here that is so savage in her pronunciation
of the formulaic blockbuster catchphrases that we marvel
at her ability to so easily disappear into her character
both verbally and physically. Here is an Australian woman
who has mastered accents ranging from New England, Brooklyn,
Ireland, England, Poland and Germany, just to name a few.
Is there anything left she hasn't tackled? Once upon a time
I might have said something absurd like "I dare her
to try and speak just like Bob Dylan," but oh wait,
she's done that too.
George Lucas may be a good writer, but ultimately Spielberg
is a better director, and watching this latest film, I couldn't
help but wonder what the last three "Star Wars"
pictures might have been like had its creator relinquised
directing credits to someone more versed in the mechanics
and style of the moving camera. Because this pairing seems
so apt for the Indy franchise, perhaps Lucas ought to rethink
his idea of finishing his epic series off with episodes
7 - 9, if only to see what kind of magic that a director
like Spielberg could bring to it.
What a great day it is to see Karen Allen so effortlessly
step back into the role of MaryAnn here, a character that
has not been on the radar of one Dr. Jones since "Raiders
of the Lost Ark." Indy has had amusing romances in
between -- most notably, a fling with the ravishing Kate
Capshaw from "Temple of Doom" -- but nothing has
quite matched the magnetism of Allen and Ford, who bring
a certain charisma to the notion of an unlikely romance
that has routinely attempted to be replicated in similarly-themed
action adventures like "The Mummy" and "National
Treasure." As Marvin Gaye put it, ain't nothing like
the real thing, baby!
So let's get this out in the open without beating around
the bush. No, Sean Connery is not missed. In fact, one should
be celebrating the notion that Dr. Jones' dear old dad is
reduced to a mere photographic mention in this latest installment,
as his presence in "The Last Crusade" was not
the act of great genius. Both a distraction and a dizzying
supplement to the comic relief of the prior Indy chapter,
the idea of him is both annoying and unsettling in a series
that sees no desire in probing the hero's family origins.
In attempting to write my full review of the picture, I
realize that I have no idea of how to describe the plot.
Is there one at all to begin with? If so, does George Lucas
even know what it consists of? There are elements of espionage,
cat-and-mouse caper, treasure hunting, creature feature
and sci-fi epic all woven into the fabric of this story,
done with such a high pitch of energy that one has to wonder
if it all exists as such simply because both Lucas and Spielberg
know they can get away with anything at this point.
The movie as a whole is absurd, preposterous, hilariously
illogical and formulaic beyond belief. But it so ambitiously
revels in those traits that no one is left unphased by the
experience. Indy has many great adventures in the film involving
cities of gold, alien beings, giant crystal artifiacts and
stories of ancient civilizations, but he has nowhere near
the amount of fun participating in them as we do watching
them. At every interval we simply want to throw back our
heads and roll our eyes, but we don't because we are at
a stage where everyone is at peace with this franchise's
sheer stupidity. The point here is not logic or reason,
simply joy and enthusiasm. And there's more than enough
still left in Dr. Jones to justify this fourth film being
released. Give me an aged archaeologist with a whip any
day over a gun-toting secret agent sipping Martinis under
the code-name of 007..
2008, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
Please e-mail the author here
if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.