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9 reviews, 107 user ratings

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
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by David Cornelius

"Whip it good!"
5 stars

It’s been twenty-seven years since we last saw Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood together. Since then, they’ve longed for each other as much as we’ve longed for them. Their finest romantic moment comes - where else? - in the middle of a high speed chase through the jungles of South America. Indy admits that yes, there have been other women since Marion exited his life, and without missing a beat, he adds that all of them shared one simple flaw: “They weren’t you.”

Such a moment reminds us that there’s nothing else like the Indiana Jones movies. The franchise is an A list tribute to pulpy B pictures, and in the long-awaited return, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” we see the formula back in full force. The action is breathless, popcorn-munching adventure flick perfection. But these days, anybody can do action; it’s the between-the-chases bits that elevate “Crystal Skull” to spectacular storytelling. The screenplay (by David Koepp, from a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson) has a long memory, noting not only that we fell in love with Indy and Marion so long ago, but why. And just as Willie Scott and Elsa Schneider weren’t Marion Ravenwood, all those action movies to come our way in the nineteen years since the sun set on “The Last Crusade” just weren’t Indiana Jones.

“Crystal Skull” (the full title is clunky yet brilliantly Saturday matinee-esque) opens in 1957. All that time George Lucas and Steven Spielberg spent waiting for the right story to bring back the fedora (and yup, this is the right story) is gone with the wind, although exposition fills in the blanks: Indy (Harrison Ford, and he’s still got it) spent the war years fighting those damn Nazis as Colonel Jones of the OSS, then spent the next decade taking down the Commies as a government operative alongside MI6 officer George “Mac” McHale (Ray Winstone). He still teaches archeology to swooning college kids, of course.

The story opens smack dab in the middle of the atomic age. Drag racing teens race through the Nevada desert, breezing past the Atomic Café. Elvis blares on the radio. And Indy and Mac have been nabbed by a gang of dirty Reds, led by the rapier-wielding villainess Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett at her sultriest). It turns out the Russkies need Indy’s help locating a mysterious metal box.

To reveal much else would be a disservice, although it’s safe to reveal that Indy’s adventures ultimately lead him on the quest for a missing professor, a lost city of gold, and a crystal skull reported to have psychic powers. The rest is as wildly over-the-top in its supernatural silliness as we’d expect from the franchise, as “Crystal Skull” takes the fantasy elements of the first three films and updates them with the mythologies of the 1950s. (To set the stage, one shot - one of the most hauntingly gorgeous images of the series - features Indy silhouetted against a nuclear mushroom cloud. Duck and cover, Doctor Jones!)

It’s clear that Lucas and Spielberg are relishing the chance to bring their hero into the decade of their youth. One motorcycle chase - which kicks off with greasers, lettermen, soda shops, and Bill Haley on the jukebox - feels inspired by “American Graffiti,” while such elements as sour-faced FBI men and references to Roswell come straight out of the gritty genre comics of the era.

And then there’s Mutt Williams. We first see this new sidekick roll into frame in a shot straight out of “The Wild One,” with Shia LaBeouf’s character sporting the same tilted hat and leather jacket. Mutt’s a greaser who barges into Indy’s life in need of help, tagging along for the wild ride to follow. With a keen eye, brash tempter, and plenty of smarts hidden underneath a rugged exterior, Mutt comes off as something of a junior Indy, reworked for the Eisenhower years. But lest you think the character was invented to handle the action while Harrison Ford cools his aging heels on the sidelines, note that Mutt’s often the one on the side, with Indy - a grayer, craggier, wiser Indy - is just as quick with the whip as ever.

(Side thought: In one scene, we catch a glimpse of a snapshot of a younger Mutt. In this photo, the kid is clean cut and bookish; more than just a throwaway gag, it’s one of countless details that reveal a movie that’s well made down to the corners of the frame.)

The entire movie is so brisk with the action, so awash in those gorgeous, familiar golden tones (Janusz Kaminski takes over cinematography duties from series veteran Douglas Slocombe), so tightly crafted, so sharply acted (John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijkine, and the incomparable Karen Allen - still crushworthy after all this time - round out the cast), so quick-witted and big-scale, just so darn right that you’d never guess the franchise has been gone all this time. Spielberg, whose movies have been darker, more contemplative, more “grown-up” lately (even his lighter fare came with heavy subtext), shows no problem in switching gears. An older Spielberg may mean a more world-weary Indy, but it doesn’t mean he’s forgotten how to formulate knock-out visual thrills. Nobody makes pure popcorn cinema like Steven Spielberg, and his work in “Crystal Skull” is as solid as anything he’s ever made.

And “Crystal Skull” lays down plenty of track for the director to play. Koepp’s screenplay is crammed with every imaginable pulp adventure scenario, from a swordfight atop a car chase to a full-on Tarzan homage to quicksand and deadly natives and deadlier jungle creatures. There’s not a moment wasted in this movie, which barrels ahead with furious gusto, winking all the way. Every inch of it is worthy of the Indiana Jones brand.

Yes, boys and girls, buy your popcorn and prop up your feet. Doctor Jones is back, and he’s ready to prove that there’s just nobody like him.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17211&reviewer=392
originally posted: 05/22/08 00:00:00
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User Comments

1/29/19 brian Better than I was expecting, but not up to I & III. 4 stars
9/12/17 morris campbell a good entry in the series forget the haters 4 stars
9/03/16 TonyK Very good. Absurd, OTT, swashbuckling fun with some great camera work and homages. 4 stars
3/29/16 Aj wales Should have stuck to 3. Ford is just to old to take serious. He should put his feet up. 3 stars
3/13/16 Charles Tatum Yikes, this should have been MUCH better. 3 stars
3/24/15 Joey B A great homage to 50's Sci-fi and Cold War B - movies, with stunning visuals. 5 stars
11/09/14 Lisa C Not as good as Raiders or Crusade but much better than the Temple of Crap. 4 stars
12/10/12 Lisa A great movie, so incredibly underrated. 5 stars
9/05/12 Samuel This film basically sucked bad. 1 stars
11/27/11 The Big D More about Indy and his family than any kind of adventure; the series is winding down. 3 stars
5/01/11 Silkworm Indiana Jones and the crock of shit ! 1 stars
2/15/11 Reality Of Films Hey, come on! It's still fun! 5 stars
12/10/10 R.W. Welch Effort to recapture the old magic doesn't quite work but has some moments. C+ 3 stars
6/10/10 Flathead King This film was not worth the wait. 1 stars
3/05/10 Ionicera after 20 years this is the best they could do? 2 stars
1/29/10 Jack The best in the series! 5 stars
1/07/10 Reality Of Films This film is good, and full of action and humor. Don't listen to anyone who says it's bad. 5 stars
7/23/09 alice Really ridiculous and unrealistic, but entertaining nonetheless. 3 stars
5/13/09 Colin M So unfortunate that they ruined a franchise in the effort to make a (lot of) buck(s). 1 stars
3/29/09 Adventure author It's wonderful to see Indy again, win loose or draw. 3 stars
3/15/09 Sam unrealistic.. not that entertaining .. 2 stars
2/28/09 Piz The Mummy starring Harrison Ford instead of Brendan Fraser 2 stars
1/16/09 Aesop Working title: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of WTF?!? 1 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. this isn't going to be as easy as it use to be! :P 4 stars
12/30/08 Justin Makes you wish Indy had drank out of the wrong cup at the end of the Last Crusade. 1 stars
12/26/08 Grace Boring. I swear they recycled most of the dialogue from the older Indiana Jones films. 3 stars
12/19/08 orpy sucks!!! 1 stars
12/05/08 Shaun Wallner Friiggin Awesome!! 5 stars
11/29/08 Johnnyfaye B movie extravaganza 4 stars
11/09/08 blah blah leave your brain at the door and you will have a good time 4 stars
11/02/08 your worst goddamn nightmare Y'know, it was good; a bit rusty, after all these years, but it was entertaining! 4 stars
10/31/08 Moop Has it's moments and interesting quasi-historical aspects, but felt too clunky 3 stars
10/18/08 Johnnyfaye Hahaha I love it...welcome back Jones! 5 stars
10/17/08 AshleyRockO Great, Fun movie. Indy still has it after all these years. 5 stars
10/15/08 The Anti-Douche In this order: 1, 4, 2 and 3. Last Crusade was lacklustre. 4 stars
10/11/08 Unicorn on the cob Could've done without return of (un-)Karen Allen, and ending is just too over the top. 3 stars
9/16/08 Oiman Not quite as good as Raiders, but I actually thought the aliens were cool! 4 stars
8/29/08 Keithers It's a good movie, people are bashing it cause they want they child hood mvie... 4 stars
8/05/08 E K Zimmerman Pure Kentucky Fried Crap. I wept! 1 stars
7/29/08 the dork knight Doesn't even seem like an Indy movie.... 3 stars
7/22/08 David I expected better from Indy. 3 stars
7/18/08 Susan Lee was expecting much better from spielberg and the cast.. the aliens were cheesy, predictable 3 stars
7/15/08 zenny embarassing for all involved. greatly disappointing. 1 stars
7/14/08 Karen Loved this movie! 5 stars
7/09/08 Bill OReely very entertaining fantasy 4 stars
7/05/08 Samantha Pruitt entertaining, yet REALLY far-fetched, doesn't really fit in wth the other IJ movies. 4 stars
6/23/08 Indrid Cold The worst of the series, but still great. Make another one before Ford gets too old! 4 stars
6/22/08 mr.mike I just wasn't that into it. 3 stars
6/21/08 AnnieG Not as bad as I feared, not as good as I hoped. Rates 3rd in the series. 3 stars
6/16/08 Kirk You are a serious tard. 1 stars
6/13/08 Johnnyfaye People say it's flawed but...Raiders was totally flawed...the bad stuff are what make indy. 4 stars
6/10/08 TommyV Flawed, at times ridiculous- but still totally indiana jones 4 stars
6/09/08 Indy fanatic If you don't like this....than you forgotten why you liked indy so many years ago. 4 stars
6/06/08 Ry expecting little... got even less. 1 stars
6/05/08 Ming K I want more....Great actions ...love the reunion with karen allen.... 5 stars
6/04/08 Jayson Bored down to my crystal skull. 2 stars
6/04/08 katmagick This flick was way overdue! Keep 'em coming. 5 stars
6/03/08 Dana The best Indiana Jones I have seen 5 stars
5/31/08 Quigley A worthy predecessor to one of cinema's greatest franchises 5 stars
5/31/08 gerry It was truly great. Not as good as Raiders, but fits nicely alongside the other two. 5 stars
5/30/08 Illusion Loved it. If you didn't, u must be old (LOL) 5 stars
5/30/08 BrizzyMo WELL worth the wait-any1 that disagrees misses the entire point of the franchise. Die. 5 stars
5/29/08 Indy fanatic If you didn't like it you probably over hyped yourselves. Indy is a B movie series remember 4 stars
5/28/08 luke Fukk all the one stars 5 stars
5/27/08 d halberg frickin aliens!!!!! 2 stars
5/27/08 David Horrible movie... 1 stars
5/27/08 NoRefill Not a bad movie, but not an Indian Jones movie. 3 stars
5/27/08 KingNeutron Too many unbelievable sequences - Shia is NOT the way to carry on the franchise 3 stars
5/27/08 Rick One of the worst movies in a while. Indiana Jones meets E.T. on the set of the Ruins 1 stars
5/27/08 Doubler Could'nt wait for it to end, bring, dull, plain ol' crap! 1 stars
5/27/08 J Webster Good...not as good as Raiders but an enjoyable ride and better than The Mummy films.. 4 stars
5/27/08 g awesome 5 stars
5/26/08 I-K Too cartoonish in places, unoriginal ending... might've called it "The mummy returns again" 2 stars
5/26/08 johhnyfog George Lucas and his cute critters stike again!! 3 stars
5/26/08 C Vega good to see indy back...ending was crap tho (ET LOL)...worst of the lot but still good tho 4 stars
5/26/08 Tim Eimiller I had a total blast watching this movie. Loved every ridiculous minute of it. 5 stars
5/26/08 david horribe, if you like this, you must be drunk 1 stars
5/26/08 Will Not Bad. What the hell was up with the monkey sequence? 3 stars
5/25/08 Lord Jiggy Never hit its stride...just off in pacing, humor, and minimal coherence. Even Ford was off 3 stars
5/25/08 Darkstar Um... it was good. Not great. Better than 2, not as good as 1 & 3. 4 stars
5/25/08 AJ Muller Not better than Raiders, but nothing (not even the other 2) is. Great, asskicking fun. 5 stars
5/25/08 George Barksdale Good action, kid did good job, but hate movies with alien implications 4 stars
5/25/08 Koitus Ugh... On par with the 2nd one in the series. I'd recommend waiting to rent it, even. 2 stars
5/25/08 debdahlin Alot of action - but something was missing 4 stars
5/24/08 bob jones this is what lucas and spielberg compromised on? 3 stars
5/24/08 powerloader Utter rubbish. 1 stars
5/24/08 Jim Nowhere near as good as the original three movies. 2 stars
5/24/08 Jeb Springfield This movie was awful. This was like Jar Jar Binks and the Crystal Skull 2 stars
5/23/08 Nick Absolute CRAP 1 stars
5/23/08 Hank Enjoyed it immensely, it despite its flaws 4 stars
5/23/08 Aimee I don't think we saw the same movie. Lucas and Spielberg totally screwed up. 2 stars
5/23/08 lemosley01 I feel as just like I did after Matrix 3 or Episode 2 - abused 2 stars
5/23/08 Brian F What a great time it was seeing this movie. They don't look that old 5 stars
5/23/08 CC Classic status of originals aside, this film is at par with the others. 2nd best in series. 4 stars
5/23/08 JoeJoe Gonsalves - You're in serious denial, if you believe what you wrote here. The movie sucked 2 stars
5/23/08 jackson Indiana Jones... and aliens 1 stars
5/23/08 bullit16 Should have been called "Indiana Jones and the Phantom Mencace." 3 stars
5/23/08 Indy Fan Slower paced than the previous 3, I think Harrison overplayed his age. Still, I enjoyed it! 4 stars
5/23/08 Will Wanted to love it.......but it was just half ass trash 1 stars
5/23/08 Joel The tarzan scene...........what the f..... 1 stars
5/23/08 Eric's Soul Come back Eric, come back. The movie is complete and total crap. 1 stars
5/23/08 dieter It's Indy, with a few "wmah" moments 4 stars
5/23/08 Melindissa I love Indy and the girl, but these CG stunts sucked. spoilt illusion 4 stars
5/23/08 Jackk Silly story, forced acting, poor CGI effects. 1 stars
5/22/08 ahnold Horrible. And I can't say more than that. 1 stars
5/21/08 fhdh cool 5 stars
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  22-May-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Oct-2008


  DVD: 14-Oct-2008

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