Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull doesn’t screen to critics in London until Tuesday, but heat’s Film Editor Charles Gant caught its world premiere on Sunday in Cannes. Here’s what he made of it…
We’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride with this one. When we first heard they were moving ahead with a fourth Indiana Jones movie, after a 19-year gap, our initial reaction was: bad idea. Harrison Ford is too old. Leave it alone. Then we got mildly excited about the casting of Shia LaBeouf as Indie’s young sidekick, and Cate Blanchett as a Russian villain. As the release date approached, we found ourselves getting sucked into the “blockbuster of the summer” hype. But was our first instinct right all along?
Nevada, 1957. KGB agents led by the icy Irina Spalko (Blanchett) attack a secret US military facility. They’ve already kidnapped Indiana Jones (Ford) and colleague Max (Ray Winstone), who they need to help them find what they’re looking for. Indy escapes their clutches, twice: first using some rocket-propelled piece of military kit; then inside a lead-lined fridge that somehow survives a nuclear explosion. Yes, it’s that kind of film, and it’s initially rather fun. Then young rebel Mutt (LaBeouf) shows up, and asks for Indy’s help on a rescue mission to Peru where his mum (Karen Allen) and archaeologist Professor Oxley (John Hurt) have gone missing. Pretty soon they’re whipcracking their way through jungle, sandpit and waterfall, trying to shake off Spalko’s crew and solve the mystery of a magnetic, transparent crystal skull and a famed lost city. And it’s while all this is occurring that you realise how thoroughly the National Treasure movies – and, to a lesser extent the Mummy ones – have looted the Indiana Jones franchise for ideas. Which means, despite the 19-year wait, this fourth edition doesn’t feel that fresh. A huge increase in the level of CGI marks out Crystal Skull from earlier Indiana Jones movies, but that only serves to make it seem more like a generic Hollywood blockbuster. As for the resolution to the mystery of the skull, it’s a) entirely predictable, and b) a step into genre territory you may not find appropriate. We don’t really care – as some might – whether Crystal Skull is true to the heart and soul of the earlier films. We just wished it was – somehow, anyhow – a bit more special. Certificate 12A; 123 minutes.
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