A fourth Indiana Jones film was on the cards for years, but everyone involved with the originals couldn't decide on a story and it became stuck in development hell. Everyone was on board, Harrison Ford, Spielberg and of course Indy's creator George Lucas who for me ultimately turned out to be the 'Phantom Menace' of the finished film.
After several story drafts, some even submitted by other well-known writer-directors such as Frank Darabont and M. Night Shyamalan, George Lucas eventually settled on his own story.
I didn't have a problem with the story, it was a kind of logical step forward for the series, I mean where else could Indy go after finding the Holy Grail? I didn't have an issue with Harrison Ford's age in fact his performance was so good he was as fresh as he was in Raiders. The supporting cast was also very good with a welcome return for Karen Allen, John Hurt being the only exception as he is completely wasted here in a role that didn't really require his acting credentials!
But George 'The Phantom Menace' Lucas' influence creeps in to the film on too many occasions. His love of CGI and cartoon-like sequences, something that plagued the new Star Wars films, bring down Indy 4's credibility level making it the most far-fetched and comic book-like entry in the series, which is a shame as the Indy films were always grounded in some reality which was what made them so great. I'm not going to list these offending sequences for fear of spoiling the film for those who haven't seen it but those who have seen it will know exactly what I'm talking about.
This doesn't really feel like a Spielberg film, like the others, with far too much comedy and CGI despite Spielberg's claims that Indy 4 would emulate the originals in terms of look, style, feel and special effects!
However I do find it hard to completely write off this film as I do have a love of the character and there are some wonderful moments in it. The 'atomic age' setting of 50's America is great and the opening sequence at Area 51 (a location that links it with Raiders) is a wonderful tour-de-force of action. The exploration of ancient ruins with fiendish traps is classic Indy, and the fight Indy has with the big Russian guy surrounded by killer ants recalls moments of his earlier violent brawls with Pat Roach who played the big Nazi pilot in Raiders and the big Indian guy in Temple of Doom.
Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull is the weakest entry in the series but it does have its moments. If they are to make a fifth film Lucas should stay well clear and let Spielberg and Ford create a grittier, more realistic action adventure film, like we all remember!
This Blu-Ray disc is great but then again for a recent film like this the difference from the DVD version isn't all that much, however the sound is vastly superior! I suspect the difference with the older films will be more noticeable.