I must have been one of the last people on the planet to see Indy IV, right? Okay, that was an exaggeration. There are probably plenty of people who haven't seen "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", right?
Anyway, when I did see it I enjoyed it. Just like I enjoyed the first three Indy films. Still, despite a friend once telling me that it was the worst Indy movie, I prefer "Temple of Doom" - it has this strange quality to it that makes me really enjoy it even though the story is so farfetched and so stupid.
So enter Indy IV and a new quest for ageing action man Harrison Ford. After a shaky opening sequence where Ford doesn't really look up to the job, he settles back into his role, possibly because renegade sidekick Mutt Williams (aka Shia LeBoeuf, of "Disturbia" fame) is busy doing the acrobatic vine navigating with the monkeys for him. Yes, there really is a scene where monkeys save the day. Young audiences everywhere would be pleased, I was less easily impressed. While we're on the subject of silly, only-in-an-Indy-based-romp sequences, how about the bit where he survives a nuclear explosion? In a fridge! A fridge people! Duck and cover, eat your heart out.
Ahem, daftness aside, it's not really a bad movie at all. The plot is a bit ludicrous but then there aren't any loose ends and everything is tied up in a nice little package by the denouement. The sequence where all the little ants come out and start eating the Russians is perhaps to be expected but at least it wasn't horrible like, say, Peter Jackson's giant head-eating maggot things in "King Kong" (I think I should get brownie points for being one of what seemed like few people in the cinema to watch that scene, albeit with a horrified face). Still, the best bits come out in the conversation. Probably strange little conversations between people, such as Indy and one of his students at Marshall College library about three seconds after he crashes Mutt's motorcycle. But it's great that after months of saying to people "What kind of a name is Mutt?" that Indy actually comes out and says it himself in the film! Hooray! Luckily this is just a nickname that he's given himself, not a silly name that his parents placed on him as a haunting joke that would plague him for the rest of his days. Poor kid.
Since this is probably going to be the last Indy film though, I expected more from his fear of snakes. Instead, only one semi-gag was made about Indy's lifelong hate of the cold-blooded reptiles and I found that disappointing. Surely the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should have been swarming with them, just to make it even more perilous for the protagonists.
Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable film. Probably not one I would consider buying when it goes to DVD but then I'm quite picky. If I had to buy one Indy DVD, it would still be "Temple of Doom" no matter what people say. Despite good performances, Indy was better in his younger incarnation, not this older and supposedly wiser form. Ford's co-stars save the day, particularly LeBoeuf and Cate Blanchett as Russian agent Irina Spalko. If you haven't already seen it, you could go just for a couple of hours of enjoyment. Don't expect to be particularly enlightened though.
Thanks to www.reelmovienews.com/images/gallery for the pic!