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Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
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Reviewed on 2008-05-28
Received[3.5]  out of 4 stars
GenreAction / Adventure
It has been 19 years since the iconic title character rode off on horseback into the sunset. The title of the 1989 film even had the word “last” in it.

Moviegoers clamored for a return of one of the most beloved cinematic heroes of all time. Producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg and superstar actor Harrison Ford finally agreed on a script by David Koepp (“Spider-Man,” “Jurassic Park” and “War of the Worlds”) to reprise this series for Baby Boomers who grew up with this character and a whole new generation of fans.

Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Ford) is a professor of archaeology in New Haven, Conn. (interior and exterior shots of Yale University). He is an expert on ancient religions and the mythology surrounding rare antiquities. He is also an adventurer who risks life and limb in pursuit of buried objects with supernatural powers.

This fourth installment takes place in 1957 at the height of the Cold War with the threat of nuclear annihilation and the Red Menace of Communism.

A prairie dog emerges from its hole in the Nevada desert and it’s déjà vu all over again. The opening segment takes place at a U.S. Air Force Base in Area 51 (southern Nevada) used for nuclear missile testing.

Indiana’s newest enemies are Russian troops led by a spooky psychotic KGB agent named Irina Spalko (Oscar-winning actress Cate Blanchett).

The opening salvo leads us on a globe-trotting thrill ride traced on a map by a moving red line to Peru and the Amazon jungle. The grave-robbing prize is the crystal skull.

There are actually 13 quartz crystal carvings according to Mayan tribal lore with supposedly miraculous mind-controlling powers.

The trademark of this franchise is surviving ambushes, chases, double-crosses, traps and a myriad of gruesome fates worse than death. This worthy addition to the series doesn’t disappoint or upset the applecart.

Spielberg hasn’t lost his directorial touch and has made an art form out of the cliffhanger action adventure. Koepp deserves kudos for injecting imaginative science fiction into old-fashioned storytelling.

This incredible movie is a lot of fun and filled with surprises. It is a celebration of everything we love in a movie. Nothing compares with the vicarious joy of escaping our everyday existence and immersing ourselves into an alternative fantasy universe.

An emotional connection develops with the fictitious portrayals on camera and you feel every bump of the chase scenes and every punch in the fighting sequences.

Ford, 65, may be older, but he still sparkles with a charismatic personality. He is reunited with Karen Allen reprising her role as Marion Ravenwood from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Their on-again, off-again romance is rekindled.

Shia LaBeouf (“Disturbia” and “Transformers”) plays Marion’s cocky and rebellious son Mutt Williams. He is a high school dropout who loves everything dealing with motorcycles. He wears a black leather jacket and is constantly combing his greased-up ducktail hairstyle. He reminds you of a young Marlon Brando or James Dean. He trades wisecracking barbs with Ford. They have a sincere camaraderie that curries the favor of the audience.

The ensemble cast also includes Ray Winstone (“Beowulf”) as a rival fortune hunter, John Hurt as a fellow archaeology scholar and Jim Broadbent as dean of the college.

The movie’s innumerable strengths include impressive set designs, meticulous art direction, resounding musical score (with famous marching theme song) by composer John Williams, awesome special visual effects, daredevil stunt work, brilliant cinematography, breathtaking scenery, and nostalgic period costumes, automobiles and props.

Other winning ingredients are the brisk pacing and expert editing. It has the right formula for crowd-pleasing enjoyment by mixing together a sardonic sense of humor with non-stop action.

It encourages young people to get an education by staying in school stressing the value of knowledge over material possessions. The ball is in your court to seek out the biggest screens to view this must-see destination movie event of the summer.

Review By:
Keith Cohen, The Movie Guy

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