Indiana Jones
and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Few movie ideas can make my knees buckle by the mere thought of it. Back To The Future IV, The Goonies II ... and Indiana Jones IV. Ever since I saw the originals in 1995, I had hopes for a follow-up. If just to see "the man in the hat" on the silver screen. I was 5 when The Last Crusade came out a.k.a. "too young".

Now that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has finally arrived, does it warrant viewing? Is it worthy of the 19-year wait? Is it grand cinema or just a Crystal Dull? Read on to find out!

The movie was released on 22 May in Sweden, but I had to wait another 5 days before I could see it. Our own movie, The Flower Shop, used up all our free time. But May 27 was, at long last, Indy time.

My opinion? Great movie! It's not Raiders great. It's no match for Crusade. But it vastly outranks the so-so Temple Of Doom. And it just feels very comfortable to see Indiana Jones again. I can only imagine how the original fans must feel : at long last, a new adventure!

Harrison Ford hasn't aged at all, in my opinion. As such, the script includes a few unnecessary references to his advanced mileage. During the shoot, Ford turned 65. I think everybody would like to have a similar physique at that age.

The supporting cast? Shia LaBeouf - in a straight-from-Grease attire - is funny. Ray Winstone and John Hurt are excellent, but don't quite fill the void left by John Rhys-Davies (Sallah) and Denholm Elliott (Marcus). I know mr. Elliott died a few years ago, but where's Rhys-Davies?! His absence is never explained. Karen Allen makes a return as Marion Ravenwood. I never really liked her in Raiders, but I seem to have a problem with all the girl in the Indiana Jones-movies. Doom's Willie is too loud and Crusade's Elsa is too sneaky. I really liked Marion in this movie, though. She (and, with her, the actress that portrays her) seems to have matured. I love it when a sequel includes references to the past and Marion perfectly fits in that frame.

Speaking of references, the movie's full of them. It may be wise to see the previous three before going in. I didn't, so a second viewing of Skull may reveal even more tidbits.

I saw the flick with a few of my international co-students, who are used to seeing movies dubbed in their language. The thought of seeing a German Indy sends shivers down my spine. The consensus? They felt the movie to be a let-down and started noticing irritating mistakes. Julia Böcker, for example, couldn't stop raving about how fake the skulls looked. "Everytime I saw one, I thought : "Plastic! Plastic!" Really? Could I have been so blind, so fanboy, so starstruck? To me, the skulls looked very realistic.

On the technical side, the movie is a joy : great action scenes, beautiful cinematography and suspenseful music. A movie starting with Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog" can't fail either.

So, the big question : does this new Indiana Jones live up to the enormous hype? No. Does it suck? No. Is it the best movie ever made? No.

Does it deliver? You bet!

Julian De Backer, 3 June 2008