A dazzling "Crystal Skull"

May 27, 2008, midnight | By Charles Kong | 13 years, 12 months ago

"Indiana Jones" filled with warm-hearted camaraderie and family-fun adventure

Though 19 long years have passed since the last Indiana Jones movie, fans have never been more excited about Steven Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Given that the three previous installments, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Temple of Doom" and "The Last Crusade" earned $1.2 billion worldwide, many may contend that the newest film in the series was made entirely for the green, but this is not the case. Though "Kingdom of Crystal Skull" has its share of flaws, it brings an adventure filled with humor, wit, romance and excitement that will leave a smile on everyone's face.

It is now 1957 and instead of the usual German Nazis, the audience is confronted with Russian Communists. Ukrainian Psychological Operations agent Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) craves the power of mind-control and believes an ancient crystal skull exists that will fulfill her desires. After kidnapping Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), she forces him to help her find the skull in the jungles of Peru. Following Indy's escape, Indy teams up with his leather-clad motorcycling son Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), his former love Karen Allen (Marion Ravenwood) and his old friend Professor Oxley (John Hurt) to unveil the ancient secret before the Soviets do.

The film's only major flaw is its underdeveloped and radical plot. Somehow it incorporates Roswell aliens, a Russian baddie with a penchant for the paranormal and lost Amazonian cities of gold into one twisted story line. Unlike the prior installments' meaningful and enlightening pursuits of the Sankara Stones, the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, "Kingdom of Crystal Skull" gives its audience an irrational and completely unexpected final explanation, spinning the Indy saga off into irrelevant science-fiction territory.

But the highlight of the movie is the return of Harrison Ford, complete with fedora and rucksack, as the brave and witty Indiana Jones. Though he may be 65, he still plays his part beautifully, he can still crack a mean whip and he still has that wry half-smile and quick quip on his lips. Simply put, Ford makes the audience love Indiana Jones – he can succeed without any superpowers, he is capable of making mistakes and he uses his quick mind and uncanny ability to improvise a solution to every problem.

The reappearance of Marion Ravenwood – still the same feisty Marion in the first film of the series – is another plus for the film. Though she could have played a bigger part in the action sequences and bickered less with Jones, Ravenwood presents herself with a mature beauty that undeniably earns the respect of the audience as well as the love of Indiana Jones himself.

The first time appearance of Shia Labeouf as Indiana Jones' son adds another layer of adventure, camaraderie and laughter to the already well-developed character interactions in the film. Immensely charismatic, LaBeouf brings rebelliousness to the scenes where Mutt makes fun of Indy's age and sweetness to the moments when Mutt shows respect for Indy. And of course, Mutt's foolish, excessive fondness for his comb and hair makes for an utterly hilarious performance at just the right times.

Blanchett reveals herself to be a true adversary as the pure-evil Shalko, hissing when she speaks. Her stoic face, her pale skin and her glowering eyes add potent power to her character, making herself a formidable opponent for Indiana Jones.

If the interaction amongst the characters is top-notch, the fights and action sequences are even better, regardless of all the CGI involved. Indy surviving an atomic bomb blast in a lead refrigerator is amazing, Mutt's Tarzan-like swinging on vines jaw-dropping, the swarming of giant Peruvian ants bloodcurdling and Indy's family falling down three consecutive waterfalls heart-stopping.

For all diehard fans, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull" is a must-see - not for the plotline, but for Indiana Jones himself. His wit is unmatched and his performance awe-inspiring. Writer George Lucas plans for LaBeouf to continue the Indiana Jones series, so let us hope he can continue the legacy.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (124 minutes) is rated PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Charles Kong. Charles Kong loves to play tennis. Actually, he likes to play sports in general. He tries not to procrastinate, but his success rate varies. He likes listening to music and using the computer, and loves Jackie Chan movies. He is super excited for Chips, even … More »

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