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May 23, 2008


film review by Don Rose

The LA Report can now recommend the two best rides of Summer 2008: the new Simpsons Ride, and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." The Simpsons ride opened May 19, while Indy 4 opened May 22 with expectations of boffo box office. And boffo it shall be. Why? Because Indy 4 has every element of a huge hit, from its A+ creative team (George Lucas co-wrote story, Steven Spielberg directed, top action actor Harrison Ford stars, top rising star Shia LaBoeuf co-stars, top female actress-chameleon Cate Blanchett also co-stars) to its stellar and clever action scenes. Ford is in fine form, both in delivering snappy Indianalogue and in delivering non-stop thrills -- and I can't give enough accolades to Cate's latest mesmerizing character creation, as Indy's sinister Soviet nemesis (I don't mean to be cheeky, but can you get a meaner set of cheekbones?).

To be fair, the film is not perfect. Some critics have pointed out flaws (LA's CityBeat critic and the critic on NPR's "Fresh Air", to name two), but I believe the few negatives pale in comparison with the movie's many pluses. Prediction: after viewing, you will want to return to see the action scenes again, not unlike how you go on a ride again and again. Do you quibble over the "plot" of a theme park's thrill ride? No. Think of Indy 4 in that light, and you'll feel all right, no matter what any critic says. (For more reasons why Indy 4 is a must-see, see this MSN Indy 4 story.) As for me, I also want to go back to experience Blanchett's over-the-top accent and appearance again -- and to watch closer for what I believe is the screen debut of Spielberg's daughter; listed as "Slugger" in the credits, she's in the diner scene, during which you'll see why she got that moniker.

As for Spielberg the elder, Indy 4 feels in part like a return to a long lost love. While Indiana Jones reconnects with a long lost love in the film, the director's re-ignited love seems to be his formative film collection, those wide-eyed wonder-filled works about humans' place in the universe and intelligences from other worlds. Consciously or not, the DNA of Spielbergian themes and character archetypes from Indy 1-3, Close Encounters and ET seem to have undergone a bit of retroriffic recombination as they are resurrected in his new film (not the main cinematic dish, but a delicious filling that's fulfilling, especially during the climax). The result: Indy 4 delivers a double dose of nostalgia -- for Spielberg's past super-sagas, and for the nifty fifties (the era this film takes place in).

Here's hoping an Indy 5 will soon arrive, as well as other new movies that continue to integrate the wonder-filled Spielberg self with his later "more mature" self. Like Henry "Indiana" Jones, one of the director's best traits is his refusal to let growing up mean growing old.

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (aka Indy 4). Opened May 22, 2008. The LA Report recommends it. 4 out of 5 stars.