: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Director: Steven Spielberg
Though I’m a fan of the original films, I went into this not expecting much. It’s a sequel and the trailers I’d seen looked dorky and silly, and the title’s lame. But you know what? This is a terrific film! From the opening scene where the Paramount mountain logo fades into a gopher hole where a funny gopher pops up and looks around, you know you’re in the hands of a master film-maker. Spielberg still has it, folks. So many nice subtle touches, from interesting camera angles to the editing and superb special effects (which don’t overwhelm the story) give the film life and humor and make this a movie a celebration of the classic action/adventure (which is almost a forgotten genre today). For example, our first view of Indy is classy: we see his hat on the floor and see his arm reaching for it and we’re expecting to see him place it on his head in typical Indy style. But instead of just showing that, Spielberg shows us Indy’s shadow on a car door: we see Indy’s classic profile in silhouette and it’s like we’re home again, twenty years later.
The plot of the film is chaotic and wild and over-the-top, just like the other Indy films, but it works perfectly. It’s set a decade or so after the last film, so Indy is older, and this time the bad guys are Russians who are seeking a crystal skull which is purported to hold psychic power. They kidnap an old archeologist friend of Indy’s and it’s up to Indy to rescue him. Along the voyage we meet a rebellious kid on a motorcycle who turns out (of course) to be the son Indy didn’t know he had, and we meet the boy’s mother, too. The action is wild to the point of being absurd — in one scene the boy swings on vines through the jungle like Tarzan — but the whole thing is done with fun and verve and sheer childish delight that you don’t mind such silliness at all. In fact, you root for it and cheer the ridiculousness. Only Harrison Ford as Indy remains gritty and real, with a touch of grumpy old man, to balance out the fun and keep us sober, and the experience is just wonderful. I haven’t had so much fun at a movie in a long time. So many movies that promise fun deliver tedium or a sitcom laugh track. This one takes us back to a simpler time when good and evil were more clearcut and shows us a good old fashioned adventure. Two thumbs way up!