By Geoff Hoppe
May 24, 2008 - 21:27
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent, and Shia LaBeouf
How do we know god loves us and wants us to be happy? Ben Franklin thought it was beer. Hans Urs von Balthasar though it was the presence of beauty in the world. But for me, dear reader, the proof is in my ability to write the following: I got to watch Indiana Jones kill communists.
Before I go any farther, there will be SPOILERS in this review. So if you don't
|Fact: this is cooler than anything, ever.|
In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, archaeologist and college professor Henry "Indiana" Jones embarks on a dangerous mission to locate a legendary crystal skull. With him is Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), a hotheaded greaser who's actually less stereotypical than the phrase "hotheaded greaser" suggests. As usual, Indy must race against an evil empire to locate the artifact, but with the Nazis gone (the film is set in 1957) and Disney on Ice not yet invented, the Soviets are the villians du jour, led by a menacing pair of cheekbones named Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett).
|Head, shoulders, knees and toes...|
As tongue-in-cheek as the first and third films were (let's just pretend Temple of Doom didn't happen), Spielberg and Lucas clearly had an historical appreciation of the underlying evils of Nazism. Much like Mike Mignola's Hellboy, the sci-fi trappings and fantastic set pieces of Raiders and Last Crusade were buttressed by a valid understanding of the horrifying ideology that informed Hitler's world view. Sure, faces melted and people disintegrated-- but behind the flash was the same substance that would take serious form in another Spielberg masterpiece, Saving Private Ryan.
Irina Spalko and her fellow Soviets, by turn, are little more than placeholders. Spalko gives an Invasion of the Body Snatchers-esque speech at one point about how the crystal skull will help the Soviets to collectivize the world, but it rings as hollow as any commonplace comintern claptrap. In Raiders and Last Crusade, Spielberg and Lucas's attention to Nazism's evils bordered on the
|All family outings should have anti-tank weaponry.|
Without a particularly compelling villain, the main focus of the movie falls on the relationship between Indy, the reintroduced Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who was Indy's love interest in Raiders, and their SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER son, Mutt. The dynamics between Indy and Marion are as much humorous as romantic, but they have the same goofy, old fashioned charm that made them endearing in the first film. Given Indy's advanced age, and the fact that this will be his last adventure (unless AARP negotiates discounts in booby trapped temples), focusing on Indy's personal life isn't a bad way to end the series.
Though, getting to see him incinerate commies with a jet engine makes it that much better.
Worth the money? Despite my criticisms, yes. It's that much fun.