“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” – Susan Granger reviews

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Indy’s back! After nearly two decades, he dons his famous fedora, snaps his bullwhip and delivers punches that still pack enough of a wallop to clinch this summer’s biggest blockbuster.

The fantasy-adventure begins in 1957 in the New Mexico desert, where Indy and his pal Mac (Ray Winstone) are pursued by villainous Soviet agents led by contemptuous parapsychologist Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). After surviving an atomic bomb, Indy discovers he’s lost his teaching position at Marshall College (filmed on the Yale campus in New Haven) because he’s ‘under government suspicion.’ That’s when he meets motorcycle-riding, switchblade-toting Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf, channeling Marlon Brando/James Dean), who carries a message imploring the adventurous archeologist to search for the legendary Crystal Skull of Akator, which the Russians also covet. In the Peruvian jungle, along with the mysterious Mayan Skull, Indy finds his “Raiders of the Lost Ark” flame, irrepressible Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), whom he’d jilted at the altar. Plot-wise, that’s all you need to know. Let the surprises unfold.

Conceived by George Lucas, written by David Koepp, directed by Steven Spielberg, and punctuated by John Williams’ music, it’s far-fetched, fast-paced fun. Middle-aged Harrison Ford is a bit mellower but he’s still an intrepid, quick-with-a-quip leading man. All the stylistic Indy touches are there: the map with a moving red line indicating his travels and his inevitable encounter with a snake (a giant Olive Python), plus spectacular swordfights, ravenous red ants, subterranean caverns filled with gold, perilous plunges over waterfalls and lots of monkeys.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a terrific 10, an awesome, thrill-filled roller-coaster ride that you don’t ever want to stop.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.