Indiana's crusade fails to recapture past glories

PUBLISHED: 13:40 30 May 2008 | UPDATED: 15:07 07 September 2010

by Michael Joyce Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (12A) Director Steven Spielberg Starring Harrison Ford, Shia Labeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt 124 mins Two star rating For the last few weeks every day has begun with a ro

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (12A)

Director Steven Spielberg

Starring Harrison Ford, Shia Labeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt

124 mins

Two star rating

For the last few weeks every day has begun with a rousing chorus of the Raiders theme as I jumped out of bed, brim-full of excitement and expectation. For hours after the final credits had rolled that same tune was still going round my head, but it had slowed to a funereal march.

Spielberg and Lucas may have invented the summer blockbuster in the Seventies with Jaws and Star Wars, but it was the first fifteen minutes of Raiders in 1981 that changed everything. After seeing that, your expectations of what a movie could deliver were irrevocably changed. It was like going from Geoff Boycott to Twenty/20 in a moment.

Nearly three decades on, the Crystal Skull throws Area 51, Aliens, Psychic Commies and a nuclear test blast into its opening sequence without even beginning to trouble your pulse rate.

Is this Indy 4 or a Cocoon remake? The logic that you get round Harrison Ford being pension age by surrounding him with more old people is questionable but might have worked if the film itself had a spring in its step. But it's a tired and lazy film with absolutely no new ideas.

The big action sequence is yet another truck chase just like it was in Raiders and Last Crusade, but with added CGIs, which sucks a lot of the thrill out of it. When he isn't rehashing previous Indy adventures, Spielberg borrows bits from his other films.

A lot of the jungle scenes are done on studio sets that look like they've been in storage since Bob and Bing were doing Road To movies. Some of the set pieces are pretty ancient too - it takes some front to do a people getting stuck in quicksand scene in 2008.

Even new young blood Shia Labeouf seems stuck under the weight of dead flesh, turning up as a parody of Brando in The Wild Ones. Watching him reminded me of Michael Moore's quote about Dubya, all alone in an administration of his dad's golfing buddies.

I am, of course, being way too precious about it and you'll no doubt wander in and have a fine time with it. But I honestly can't see the point.

Coppola had substantial money problems when he dug up the Godfather to do Part III but Spielberg, Lucas and Ford have nothing still to prove, nothing still to earn.

Why go back to a triumph if you haven't got some absolutely compelling, can't-sleep-at-night-for-the-want-of-getting-it-made idea?

It's their equivalent of Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert movie Shine A Light - talented artists unable to match past glories, coasting along on the nostalgic goodwill.


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