ReviewWriter: Cammy ZulkifliWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
The "National Treasure" and "Indiana Jones" films.
Indiana Jones has long made an exit since the last Indy movie called "The Last Crusade" in 1989. Almost 20 years later, our favourite whip-slinging fedora-donning adventurer returns slightly older, but with as much grandeur and enthusiasm as we fondly remember. "The Last Crusade" was set in the 40's, and the last we saw him, good ol' Indy set off into the sunset on horseback, a scene which seem to solidify his exit after years of adventuring. Fans thought they had seen the last of Indy, until he returned gracefully in this latest instalment called "Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull".
This film skips more than a decade after where the last movie left off. Now set in the 50's, this new instalment is set at the height of the Cold War, so naturally the villains are Russians. It is a time where girls in puffy multi-layered skirts screamed and fainted after Elvis, and the young boys carried a little sharp-toothed comb to keep their heavily-sprayed hair in check. Not a minute into the film do we hear the King of Rock and Roll belting "Hounddog" in the background, instantly bringing back the era, thus announcing old-fashioned Indy's step into the not-too-distant future.
Having sifted through a number of rewrites, director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas have settled on an appropriate setting and plot, clearly mindful of two things - one is the existing followers of the "Indy" series, and two being the children of the existing followers which they clearly want to tap into.
Naturally, Harrison Ford, the man who made Indy a household name, graces our screens yet again with the same amount of wit, sarcasm and zest for thrills which Indy embodies despite a two-decade hiatus. Age certainly hasn't caught up with him and he jumps, kicks and punches just as much as he did in the previous films. Better yet, he looks almost no different than he did 20 years ago, obviously aging snugly into his now older - but not necessarily wiser - alter ego.
Indy is classically thrust into a dramatic unveiling of his character, and it isn't long before he utilises his trademark whip to cripple some baddies led by the mad but ingenious Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). Blanchett is both intimidating and exquisite as Spalko, exerting enough smarts and intelligence as an imposing villain, not to mention an acute Russian accent that you can't get enough of. Amidst the chaos, we learn of the extraterrestrial nature of Indy's impending adventure, which takes him on a clue hunt across Peru and the Amazon with a little help from an unlikely source - a young man named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who holds the first few clues to Indy's object of pursuit, but has noble motives of his own to save his kidnapped mother.
The film brings back a few old characters to instigate nostalgia, namely Indy's perpetual love interest Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) plus some new faces like Ray Winstone as Indy's globe-trotting partner George "Mac" McHale. But with the inclusion of fresh-faced LaBeouf, the film takes a contemporary jog, luring the modern pop crowd to which LaBeouf already has the following for. LaBeouf's character, who has a tickling habit of slicking his hair back with a comb every now and then, is simply adorable and is the subject of many laughs throughout the movie. Admirably, he is neither outshined nor drowned by Ford.
Marcus Brody, a museum curator and long-time friend of Indy and his father, could not make a return after Denholm Elliot, who played the character in "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and "The Last Crusade", passed away in 1992 but the character is given an amusing tribute in "Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull".
Though clearly varnished with a fresh coat of paint, this film adheres very closely to the formulated sequences we've come to be acquainted with in all the previous instalments. Indy is ever James Bond-like - death-defying, escaping narrow misses and not a bullet in his flesh at the end of the day - with a penchant for riddle-solving only the movies can vouch for. You can expect a lot of globe-trotting (think a world map with red lines tracing his journey as he jets from one country to another and you'll get what I mean), snappy comebacks and rib-tickling moments from all performances, but Indy is only as good as Indy gets.
Sadly, the tried-and-tested franchise could not give "Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull" a creative license to stray from what we've come to associate with the highly successful title, thus making it merely a recycled piece with a few new faces thrown in. Interestingly, the passing of time since the last movie has allowed some leeway for a surprising twist concerning Indy's love-hate relationship with Marion Ravenwood. However, this latest instalment, unlike the previous, does leave room for a possible sequel... let's just hope we don't have to wait another 20 years if it ever happens.Cinema Online, 23 September 2008