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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Bullwhip stunt: check. Swinging on vines through the jungle: check. Sinking in quicksand: check. Attack by blowguns: check. Eaten alive by carnivorous army ants: check. Dramatic John Williams soundtrack anthem: of course.

Producers of the Indiana Jones trilogy knew full well what fans of the action franchise would be expecting from the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg teamed up to resurrect the series with this thrill ride, serving up action sequences back to back throughout the entirety of the two hour movie.

The story begins in the 1950’s on a nuclear test site in Nevada. Indiana has been kidnapped by Soviet agents led by Cate Blanchett, who plays sharp witted Irina Spalko with a cartoonishly over-the-top Russian accent. The Cold War heist is interrupted by an atomic blast. As a result of the Red Scare association and Communist conflict, Indy is fired from his day job as an archaeology professor. Enter Shia LaBeouf, channeling a grease monkey persona with an emotional undertone, who shows up on a motorcycle as teen rebel Mutt Williams. Mutt delivers a letter about the ‘Crystal Skull of Akator’. It must be found before the Russians get hold of it and enslave the world through mind control. The team takes off for South America, where they spend the rest of the movie exploring ancient tombs, running into Indy's fiancé from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Marion, and being chased by Soviets the ancient city of El Dorado.

As with all major and innovative projects, there are minor problems with this film. In an attempt to maintain the charm and charisma of simple special effects, Spielberg’s decisions air on the side of phony and boring. The single instance of digital animation involves a Tarzan-like scene in which LaBeouf swings through the jungle on vines with a pack of spider monkeys. In addition, the emerging LaBeouf has a tendency to rush his lines at some points. This is made up for, however, by his likable presence an strong chemistry with Harrison Ford as his father.

In the beginning, there seems to be a sexual tension between Soviet Irina Spalko and Jones, although this is never expanded on and seems to disappear by the concluding scenes of the movie. Ray Winstone becomes annoying in a why-is-this-guy-still-around role as Indy's sidekick turned traitor, who viewers never truly reach a sense of conclusion with.
Viewing the movie as a whole, these are but minor setbacks in the grand skeem of things. Although Crystal Skull pales in comparison to the preceding Indy movies, I feel that Spielberg hit the nail in the head with this film production, and would recommend it to any Indiana Jones film fan or standard movie-goer.





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