Indy and company deliver an action packed, fun-filled ride in "Skull"
I can't lie. The newest installment of the Indiana Jones franchise has its flaws. Story lines stall and a plethora of over the top digital effects are just some of its shortcomings; but "Crystal Skull" comes closest to the original vision George Lucas was hoping to achieve.
Like other movie franchises, the fans of Indiana Jones have built this newest film up so much; it's destined to leave some feeling unfulfilled.
"Crystal Skull" delivers in most everyway. There's the cool swagger, the lightning-quick banter, the one-liners and the Fedora.
The movie opens two decades after we last saw Indy in the "Last Crusade" and Indy has never looked so good. After a silhouetted reveal, we see an aged Harrison Ford that still embodies the rugged, crooked smile, whip-toting adventurer we've all come to love.
After meeting the intriguing Russian military scientist Irina Spalko, played beautifully by Cate Blanchett, the movie gets off to a raucous start. An action sequence inside a warehouse with a few familiar sights set the film's tone at a breakneck speed.
One complaint heard over and over again is that the movie meanders along. I got no sense of that at all. There are breathers in the action but you keep moving in the right direction.
We also learn some surprising details of what Indy has been up to since "Last Crusade". After getting up close and personal with the atomic age, we learn that Dr. Jones has ties to the U.S. government, which helps set "Skull" in motion. One of the coolest images of the film occurs after Indy visits a beautifully pristine 1950's neighborhood, which proves to be a blast.
Indy returns to Marshall College only to find that he's been put on an indefinite leave of absence after his recent adventure. With no ties, Jones decides to skip town but a chance encounter stops him in his tracks.
As Jones train is leaving the platform, a Brando wannabe Mutt Williams, played by Shia Lebeouf, appears and speaks the name of Professor Oxley, which causes Indy to cancel his departure.
We next move to a stereotypical 50s malt shop where Williams informs Jones that his mother has been abducted in attempt an to find Oxley. He reveals a letter Oxley sent and mentions the Crystal Skull of Akator. That's where the story officially takes off.
After an impressive action sequence involving a car and motorcycle that has hilarious things going on in the background, Indy and Mutt take off for Peru. However, during the chase we learn that Marcus Brody finally gets his due, only to lose his head over it.
Following a trip to an asylum and a graveyard, we are finally introduced to Oxley. John Hurt almost steals the show playing the overtly insane Oxley. Then we're introduced to Mutt's mother, the not so surprising Marion Ravenwood, played by Karen Allen. The scenes between Allen and Ford could be pulled scenes from "Raiders". They're that seamless.
During this time, we are introduced to the Crystal Skull and explained the purpose of the skulls and why the Russians what them. You guessed it -- world domination.
Mutt and Spalko share an awesome sword fight while jumping from moving trucks throughout a jungle setting, with the Crystal Skull changing possession more than a few times.
This leads us to the home stretch of the movie and that is where I leave you. I believe the ending of a film should never be revealed good or bad.
What I can tell you is the ending is where your love of Indiana Jones could be put to the test. If you believe in the original vision of the 1930's serial you will enjoy the ride. If not, there's no talking to you.
This could be the best collection of actors assembled in any Indiana Jones flick. You get what you expect from Ford, Allen, Hurt and Blanchett, while Lebeouf proves he's the real deal. Ray Winstone is great as the slimy double-triple-quadruple crossing Mac.
Some of the best scenes are with Allen and Ford. When attacked about marrying another man, Marion fires back she's sure Indy has been with lots women in her absence. He agrees but says there was one problem -- "They weren't you," to which Marion responds with a schoolgirl smile.
"Crystal Skull" is an action packed flick that delivers the goods. Also, if you look with the right eyes at the ending, you can almost hear the music and see the dawning of a new era in the Jones saga.