I’m no Indiana Jones fan but after seeing the latest installment of the famed fictitious archaeologist’s adventure – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I won’t be as enthused as before. For the hardcore Indi-fan, I presume the movie will be a kinda letdown and would invoke that dreaded could-have-been-better feeling but for most of the Indian audience, all the action, the adventure, the chivalry, the banter, the chases and of course, the puzzle-solving and cryptic-clue-cracking will be more than enough to spice up a lazy summer evening. And from that perspective, Crystal Skull would rank as an enjoyable and watchable action flick this summer.
19 years after his last crusade/adventure hit the screen, Professor Henry Jones a.k.a Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is back in a brand new adventure. Presented by George Lucas’ Lucasfilm and helmed by Steven Speilberg (who were also involved in the earlier 3 Indiana Jones movies) the movie is set in 1957 at the height of the US-Soviet Cold War. It starts off with Jones being dragged out of Mexico by a bunch of Soviet comrades and hustled into a huge warehouse in Nevada (yes, Russians in the heart of US) and ordered to seek out a rare artifact. Led by iron-fisted and heavily-accented Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), the Soviets are searching for a Mayan artifact – a Crystal Skull – which will give whomsoever returns it to its rightful place its control, and of course, supreme power! Indi is betrayed by his old sparring partner but nevertheless escapes from the warehouse amidst a hail of bullets a la Hindi/Telugu movie heroes and even survives an Nuclear explosion later on! Back at Marshall College, he’s approached by Mutt Williams (Shia LeBouf) whose Mum and Uncle Oxley were on the trail of the Skull but are now lost and need Indi’s help. They’ve mailed a crypt-o-gram which Indi must solve to get to the Skull’s location. Their quest leads them to the remote jungles of Peru and across the vast waterfalls of the Amazon, right into Inca/Mayan heartland where the Skull will finally unlock a long-hidden secret.
Fantastic and far-fetched it may sound, but hey, it’s an Indiana Jones adventure! It is amazing how even at the age of 65, Harrison Ford can pull of this action-hero image of Indiana Jones. Not only does he solve the puzzles and the cryptic clues with a professorial finesse but he also leads the chase with an adventurous zest and glee. Shia’s role is initially that of the scared n’ confused sidekick but it develops into something serious later. Their banter and quirky chatter are laden with plenty of humour and do have a few memorable one-liners. Indi’s old love makes a comeback – along with a startling revelation – and her fleck of a banter with Jones adds some more humour into proceedings. There are few cryptic clues and tough-to-crack puzzles along the way – including latch-driven-concrete walls, retracting-staircases, pattern-sliding giant doorways – which I dare say remind me of the National Treasure series! In fact, the climax can be said to a blend of National Treasure and The Mummy . The best thing that I liked about the principal villain – Cate Blanchett – was her accent. Apart from that, the role was almost identical to late Amrish Puri’s in Temple of Doom. Whilst he resorted to human sacrifice and heart-removals for power & dominance, Blanchett resorts to skull-placing and whatnot to realize her ambition of psychic warfare!!! Brr!!!
To conclude, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will remain as an enjoyable and time-pass action n’ adventure flick. But whether it can match upto (or even surpass) its’ predecessors & be considered as a worthy enough fourth-part, is debatable. I’d leave that for the die-hard Indi-fans to decide. For me, Harrison Ford’s screen presence, the action n’ adventure, the racy chases, the cryptic clues n’ puzzles, et al are good enough for a movie that was as eagerly awaited-for as this. Of course, I was disappointed by the whole who-does-the-skull-belong-to rigmarole 👿