Thursday Night Movie Club
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
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Release Date: 22 May 2008

Director: Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford
Cate Blanchett
Karen Allen
Shia LaBeouf
Ray Winstone
John Hurt
Jim Broadbent
Igor Jijikine
Dimitri Diatchenko
Ilia Volok
Emmanuel Todorov
Pasha D. Lychnikoff
Andrew Divoff
Venya Manzyuk
Alan Dale
Indiana Jones
Irina Spalko
Marion Ravenwood
Mutt Williams
'Mac' George Michale
Professor Oxley
Dean Charles Stanforth
Russian Suit
Russian Suit
Russian Soldier
Russian Soldier
Russian Soldier
Russian Soldier
General Ross
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster
Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe year is 1957. A band of Russian soldiers shoot their way into a secret U.S. military base in the Nevada desert. Two men are pulled from the trunk of a car and shoved to the ground. A pair of shoes walk up to the hat. A hand leans in picking up the hat. A man's shadow on the side of a truck shows the man placing the hat on his head. The silhouette is unmistakable. Indiana Jones is back in action!

Harrison Ford is back as everyone's favorite archeologist/adventurer. Indy is older but not necessarily wiser. He is still way too trusting for his own good. In some refreshing way, Indiana Jones still hasn't grown up.

Nazi Germany has been defeated. Rising to take its place are the Communist "Rooskies". The infiltrators are led by Colonel Irina Spalko, who is very gifted with E.S.P. She is searching Hangar 51 in search of an artifact rumored to have crash landed in the desert and kept hidden. She looking for one of the crystal skulls for its rumored psychic properties. The object is so powerful that its magnetic field attracts all types of metal. Indiana Jones was part of the team that recovered the object. The Russians believe Indy has information that will help them find the object.

Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullAlso kidnapped with Indy is his friend and fellow adventurer "Mac" George Michale (Ray Winstone). Indy and Mac have had their own adventures and narrow escapes while spying for the Army during WWII. Mac's relationship with Indy has been tarnished lately. Mac incorrectly assumed he would get rich teaming with Indiana Jones. Big mistake. Indy is in it for the knowledge, not the gold. In a way, this last point is a central theme to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Life quickly turns sour for Indy. The F.B.I. believe him to be a traitor. Their continued presence causes Indy to lose his tenure at the university. Jobless, despondent, a broken Indiana Jones leaves the university. But not for long! Before his train gets out of the station, Jones is back doing what he does best, solving riddles/puzzles. Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) desperately needs Jones' help. His mother, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) has been kidnapped. In order to save her, Jones must decipher the clues hidden within the cryptic language and symbols transcribed by Professor Oxley (John Hurt).

Harrison Ford and Shia LeBeouf in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullThe chase takes Jones and Williams to the jungles of South America where they run smack into the Russian expedition who are holding Oxley and Marion captive until they can find what Oxley found, namely a Crystal Skull. Legend tells the skulls have uncharted extra-sensory perceptions. Major Spalko wants to use the skulls power to create a psychic weapon that would cause the United States to destroy itself. In order to stop Spalko, Jones must join them the decipher the final clues to the skull's origin.

As the journey proceeds, Jones begins to take a liking to Mutt Williams. Mutt reminds Jones of his own rebellious teen years when he left his father to live life on his own terms. Jones is in for a shock when he learns just how much Mutt is like him.

Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullHarrison Ford once again dons the iconic leather jacket, fedora, and whip. Now in his 60's, Ford can still play the part. Amazingly, he still fits into the original outfit! Jones is still wisecracking, cocky, resilient, and dogged in his persuit. Ford still has all the right moves. Jones may look like a nerdy bookworm on campus. That all changes the instant he dons the famed fedora. The transformation into the adventurer/archeologist is like sampling a fine scotch. Smooth as silk!

Shia LeBeouf, Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullKaren Allen is fantastic. Like Ford, Allen comfortably slips back into the role she hasn't played since 1981. Like Ford portraying Indy, Karen Allen clearly shows she is the only actress capable of matching Jones wit, sometimes surpassing him. They haven't seen each other in years. Yet the instant they meet, they de-evolve into a bickering, old married couple, with no regard as to their surroundings and their imminent peril. Allen also shows what was missing in the previous two Indiana Jones films, a female lead who is every bit Jones' equal. Welcome back... and it's about time!

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, with the exception of John Hurt who doesn't have much to do, almost tarnishes the shine on the crystal. Ray Winstone grates on one's nerves from the first scene and successfully keeps this up throughout the entire film. Even though Winstone's character Mac is central to the intrigue in the film, what he really needs is a boot to the head. Cate Blanchett does not fare any better. Her phony Russian accent is a distraction from the opening to the close. Spalko's ultimate demise cannot come soon enough. Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth is a more-than-adequate replacement for Denholm Elliott as Indy's fellow professor and confidante.

Shia LeBeouf, John Hurt, Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullDirector Steven Spielberg is back and keeps the film exciting. The action sequences are still quite spectacular punctuated by the chemistry and verbal sparring of Ford and Allen. Screenwriter David Koepp maps out a very complex legend filled with lost languages and hieroglyphs, all puzzles for Indy to solve. Ford and Allen get all of the best lines. Many in the audience may cringe at the story told in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Similar to Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, the Indiana Jones films have always bordered on the unbelieveable. This isn't a problem when the film is such good fun!

Sequel? Let's hope so! But like James Bond and Doctor Who, producer George Lucas may have to find a new actor to portray Indiana Jones. Good luck with that! Joseph Gordon-Levitt comes to mind.