It's 1957 and part-time teacher/archaeologist/action hero Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is now a veteran of the second world war. After an initial run-in with murderous Russkies in the Nevada desert it's back to college for the ageing professor until youngster Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) approaches him with an intriguing tale. Mutt's mother and Ox (John Hurt) a friend of Indy's, have been captured in South America apparently searching for Eldorado, the lost city of gold. Armed with a Mayan parchment, his fedora and bullwhip, Indy is soon on a plane flying over a map of the world with the young hell-raiser in tow. Throw into the mix a legend of 13 crystal skulls, several car chases and a vicious femme fatale (Cate Blanchett) and you have a worthy addition to the Indiana Jones saga.
After Aliens, Predator and the Star Wars franchises were all ruined in the name of profit, I avoided Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for as long as I could bear to. I knew I'd see it eventually, it IS Indy after all. Fearing another Phantom Menace sized disappointment I sat down to watch it with an open mind, not expecting it to live up to the originals. So does it? Yes and no. The familiar template is here. A first act run in with some baddies, a trip back to college where Indy teaches part time and then an adventure presents itself leading to a trek across the world and a frantic final act. Harrison Ford is 65 now but he can definitely still cut it. It takes him about 20 minutes to get back into the wise cracking role but it has been almost twenty years since he last cracked the bull whip which shows at times as you would expect. The cast of Indy 4 is very impressive, Shia LeBeouf is excellent as Mutt and Cate Blanchett convincing as a villain. The trouble is that talented actors John Hurt and Ray Winstone are overlooked and underused as it is very much Harrison Ford's film. The film looks great with a very authentic 1950's hue and stunning locations.
That's the good points, now here's the bad:
CGI is once again used (Star War Episodes I, II & IIIs) to add totally unnecessary elements to films that didn't rely on CGI in the first place. Gophers with human facial expressions, monkeys that accompany LeBeouf through the jungle and a ridiculous alien all remove plausibility from an already far fetched tale. Don't even get me started on the ants that can form a tower to reach someone hiding up a tree. Another problem is that Indy and pals are completely indestructible. Indy survives a nuclear blast (yes I know) by hiding in a fridge which is sent flying 4 miles into the desert and emerges with barely a scratch. The waterfall sequence is unbelievable, no-one would survive a 200 ft drop three times and certainly not still with a hat on their head. It all just lends to the implausibility of the tale and then come the aliens. The ending is ridiculous and a another CGI cop out. How no-one involved managed to stop the flying saucer bit is beyond me.
Still, as a massive fan of the originals, I still managed to enjoy this despite it's obvious flaws. It's definitely the worst of the bunch but still has enough going for it to go and see.
Like this? Try: Indiana Jones: The original trilogy.