Friday, May 23, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls

Fair warning; there is only one part of this post you should read before seeing the movie:If you have never read ""Leinengen Versus the Ants" then you should do so before you go see Indiana.

*********** Spoiler alert *************** the remainder of this will talk heavily about key events so...unless you have seen it, stop now, go see it, then come back.

The movie starts out a bit more brutally than the old ones. But it quickly segues into familiar ground...Indy has information the bad guys (or, in this case, girl) want, he is captured, loses a valuable artifact, big chase, lots of outrageous action. Think the Die Hard franchise crossed with the National Treasure franchise. Of course, the Indiana Jones franchise came first...

Anyhow, after the classic chase/battle/escape, Indy makes his way into a small town that turns out to be populated by foam people. At the last second before the nuclear bomb is tested he jumps into a refrigerator which protects him from the explosion, though it does fling him for hundreds of yards inside said fridge. In a homage to the old serials, he escapes unharmed.

In another reference, McCarthy-like agents suspect the oft-decorated Indy of being a Communist double agent and say nobody can be trusted. They couch a critique of anti-terrorist hysteria in terms of the Red Scare.

In some ways there is some legitimacy to this critique but in other ways it is just another mindless attack by certain elements of the left on anybody who does not toe their line and conform to their ideals.

Meanwhile, the movie itself is great fun. It proceeds along with preposterous premises, outstanding action scenes that are just high-octane thrill rides, and make their way through a variety of exotic locations while following another cryptic treasure map.

The impetus of the story is the tension between Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and "Mutt" Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Along the way they rescue Mutt's mother Marian Ravenwood (Karen Allen). In a twist that surprised me not one soon as Mutt mentioned his mother's name was "Mary" I had it nailed...Indy is Mutt's father. However, the woman behind me must have been shocked because she said, "Oh my!" when that revelation popped forth.

As they move along, alternately escaping and being recaptured by the Russians, then engaging in a long, entertaining chase/fight that references Leninger Versus the Ants before heading into a big finale where the skull is revealed to have been from an X-Files type alien.

The climax felt like a jump the shark moment when watching it, but in retrospect it fits the franchise very well. And it brings the Jones mythology to a satisfying conclusion. We still have a "Henry Jones" to keep the name going, Shia has done some action/adventure stuff, and Indy is happy at last.

This film, if you take expectations of reality, is one you will hate. But if you just relax and enjoy it is non-stop fun from beginning to end and a fitting addition to the Indiana Jones tales.

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