An Overlong Title for an Overlong Movie
19 years is a long-time to have in between sequels but when it was announced that they were going to make a fourth Indiana Jones movie the expectations were high and questions were bounding about, would Harrison Ford still be effective as the swashbuckling archaeologist Henry Jones and what relic/dangerous situation would Indie find himself in this time. Well in 2008 we got "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" an over long title for an over long movie. The good news was that Ford was impressive as ever as Dr. Jones and with the introduction of Mutt Williams played by Shia LaBeouf the movie had two good leads along with some recognizable faces. But the bad news was that the storyline was poor and far fetched substituting suspense for CGI enhanced action making it for me a disappointment.
It's 1957 and Professor Henry Jones (Harrison Ford - Air Force One) finds himself under the watchful gazes of the Russians when a young biker called Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf - Transformers) hands him an encrypted message from his old friend Henry Oxley (John Hurt). With Mutt in toe and the Russians following, led by the dangerous Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett - The Aviator), Indiana heads off to Peru in search of a legendary skull supposedly made from quartz. But things get complicated when the Russians make their move and Indie is reunited with Oxley as well as his original love Marion (Karen Allen).
The trouble with "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" it that it just isn't exciting, romping from one choreographed green screen action sequence to another with nothing of any consequence in-between, well nothing which really captivates you. Yes Indiana is trying to solve a mystery about a relic whilst evading the clutches of this time the Russians lead by Irina Spalko but it's not exciting. There is no suspense, nothing really gripping, you know Indie will get out of trouble and so needs something else to make it get you on the edge of your seats
It's also completely far fetched and feels more suited to something from the "X-Files" rather than a treasure hunting, swashbuckling archaeologist. Now I know the other Indiana Jones movies all had a bit of fantasy about them, with the search for relics which some believe are questionable, but at least they were known relics where as this time round it's all too fictional all slightly too out there to be believable.
There is no doubt that this latest Indiana Jones movie is visually impressive with more special effects than I can remember, but for me it spoils the movie, something which is happening to far too many movies these days with so much CGI trickery going on. Back in the 80s when the first Indiana Jones movies were made the special effects were stunning, with stunt men getting dragged on the edge of vehicles with their faces grinding into the cliff face it was honestly exciting, but now the effects and stunts this time round are so many that there is nothing which grabs you and occasionally shows up as being fake.
But whilst the storyline is far fetched and it's not gripping it will no doubt be popular, especially with younger audiences who never lived through the glory of the 80s.
The good news is that despite his progressing years Harrison Ford still has what it takes to play Indiana Jones and the intro scenes where we meet him once more and he puts his hat on is like welcoming back an old friend. Yes he may do a few less action sequences this time around, and is aided by a lot of green screen, CGI trickery but the essence of Indie is still there, with his no nonsense put downs. Plus it has to be said that Ford looks a lot fitter than most 66 year old actors and no doubt he could carry on playing the role for a few more sequels.
Although George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have been clever by introducing a new character in Mutt Williams played by Shia LaBeouf. It takes the pressure of Ford slightly and appeals to the younger audience who enjoyed LaBeouf in the likes of the equally CGI packed "Transformers". Now I am not going to spoil things but the character of Williams has a very obvious twist one which is so easy to spot that when it's revealed it lacks the impact it should. As for LaBeouf as a young apprentice so to speak well he works well and maybe one day he could carry on the mantle of the Indiana Jones movies when Ford decides to hang up his whip and Fedora but I am not sure I'd want to watch it if they did go all LaBeouf.
Adding to the melee of stars there is the pleasure of Karen Allen returning as Marion, a lovely star which is sadly underused through out the movie as is Ray Winstone as 'Mac' George Michale. John Hurt does little better as Professor Oxley although at least he does manage to create an entertaining character which is slightly mysterious. But then there is the wonderful Cate Blanchett as the villain of the piece Irina Spalko, the Russian agent in search of the Crystal Skull. Now as a character it lacks something truly villainous such as the Nazi's in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", but Blanchett at least makes it a strong character one which grabs your attention in a slight dominatrix way.
What this all boils down to is that this 4th movie "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is a disappointment. Yes it was nice to see Indie back and Harrison Ford demonstrated that even his advancing years wouldn't stop him from donning the fedora once more. But then the actual movie is rather boring, the storyline is less than thrilling with what feels like complete and utter fiction rather than something more worldly. But it is the over use of action in place of suspense and the plethora of CGI effects which really spoil it for me, it just doesn't get me on the edge of my seat. Maybe part 5 will be more exciting when it gets made.