It’s probably impossible to capture the pure magic of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, but this Kingdom sure gives it a valiant try.
I was surprised the opening scene did not ring in with John Williams’ classic theme, but this is an adventure that starts out slow. Indy’s been kidnapped, tossed into the cold war paranoia of Russian spies, American suspicion and nuclear testing in the Nevada desert. Tossed out of his academic safety net, our hero’s off to an uncertain future, when Shia LeBeouf cycles into his life, a rebel with a cause. Together, the two take off for a fabled city of solid gold, thinking if they find the long rumored crystal skull, that will lead them to young Mutt’s mother, who, it seems, is in trouble of her own.
Yes, there is a story here, but that’s not really the point. Once it finds its way (after some undeniable static passages, weighed down under unnecessary exposition), this movie finds its familiar rhythms and the fun bounces off the screen. And when Karen Allen shows up, reprising her role as Indy’s one true love, Marion Ravenwood, everything seems to come together; the three main characters affectionately snapping like the Bickersons and we all love it. That natural chemistry, along with some downright splendid action scenes, almost erase the silliness of Cate Blanchett’s bizarre Soviet sweetie.
And while the script takes off in an otherworldly spin, this does seem to offer Steven Spielberg an opportunity to not just revisit his classic anthropologist, but to also play around with what he might have done had we made another Close Encounter with ET.
Kudos to Williams’ excellent score, which is almost a character onto itself, and to the special effects team that created tons of oooey ants and gallons upon gallons of whipped up waterfalls. But the real special effect here is Harrison Ford, who, twinkle in his eye and spring in his step, proves what a movie star is all about.