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.