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PCR #426 (Vol. 9, No. 21) This edition is for the week of May 19--25, 2008.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Starring: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett and Karen Allen
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 4 mins

When we last saw Indiana Jones, he was fittingly ending his adventures by riding off into the sunset. That was nineteen years ago. After many false starts, rumors and scripts attempted by everyone from M. Night Shyamalan to playwright Tom Stoppard to Frank Darabount (“Shawshank Redemption,” “Green Mile”), all of the karmic forces of Hollywood have finally converged and given us an adventure to remember for a lifetime.

1957. A convoy of military vehicles heads down a dusty desert road. But these are not American soldiers. No. This is the time of the cold war and Russian forces are attempting to recover an object that they believe will give their leaders psychic superiority over the world. Along for the ride against their will: Indiana Jones (Ford) and his assistant, Mac (Ray Winstone). They are driven to a secret section of the military base, ominously numbered 51. Once inside their destination, Jones is ordered by KGB operative Irina Spalko (Blanchett)) to uncover and turn over a fateful crystal skull, which she believes can be used to control the thoughts of her enemies. When the adventure heads to South America, Indy is met up with by Mutt Williams (LaBeouf), a young man who claims his mother, Marion (Allen) has sent him to find Jones. And from here the story finds our favorite archeologist and his new friends (and enemies) literally spanning the globe.

Congratulations to whoever decided to age this film in direct relation to 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Not only does it allow Indy to age along with Ford, but it gives the story a new bad guy to root against. As bad as the Nazi’s were, there was nothing a patriotic American hated more in the late 1950s then a Ruskie! As the leader of the Russians, Blanchett is perfectly just over the top. Even Indy points this out when he comments on her “wubba-yous.” Ford knows Indy inside and out and the moment we first observe him putting on his famous fedora is one that had my screening audience applauding as if greeting a long lost friend. Yes, he’s in his 60s, but the script allows for this in the action. As he once commented in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “it’s not the years…it’s the mileage.” LaBeouf is spot on as Mutt, kind of a junior archeologist in training. From his entrance, where it appears he just drove his motorcycle off of the set of “The Wild One,” LaBeouf is free and easy with his performance, something that deserves recognition. It certainly couldn’t be easy joining the cast of one of the most popular film series of all times. Which reminds me…welcome back Karen Allen. Looking as if she and Indy last saw each other yesterday, Allen proves why she was the series most beloved female character, as well as the only one that could give Indy a run for his money. Her scenes with Ford crackle with a chemistry that was sorely missing in “Temple of Doom” and “The Last Crusade.” Speaking of “The Last Crusade,” kudos to director Spielberg for including a short tribute not only to Sean Connery, who starred as Indy’s dad but to the late Denholm Elliott, whose Marcus Brody was as special to Indy as his father.

On the technical side, the stunts are fantastic without being fantastical. Again, the story allows for Ford’s/Indy’s age, and some of the biggest laughs occur when things don’t go as exactly as planned. The visual effects, as in every film George Lucas oversees, are imaginative and John William’s score underscores every scene.

A wild summer ride you’ll want to take again and again, on a scale of zero to four stars I give “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”


This week's movie review of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is ©2008 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2008, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.