If you’re in your late thirties or older, you probably remember the excitement in the cinema when you saw 1981’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark for the first time. As soon as Harrison Ford appeared onscreen in his now iconic fedora, whip at his side, a classic, cool hero was born, one we’d all be willing to go on any adventure with, even if it involved a giant rolling ball of rock, deadly Nazis, or a pit of hissing snakes. Through two sequels (Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom in 1984 and The Last Crusade in 1989), writer-producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg had us ride along with archaeologist Indy on his perilous journeys to reclaim lost artefacts, peppering the journeys with jaw-dropping special effects and stunts, a cracking script and a wonderfully witty central performance from Ford.
After the third movie, Spielberg and Lucas hinted that they may reunite for a fourth, and for nearly two decades fans held their collective breath as scripts were hinted at and rejected. Then, finally, in 2008, along came The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull… and we all instantly wished the trio of Spielberg, Lucas and Ford hadn’t bothered. It’s not a complete disaster, perhaps, but it’s certainly a crushing disappointment and a bit of a mess. Ford once again rocks in his beaten up leather jacket, but it’s now 1957 and we’re no longer dealing with Nazi baddies – this time our hero has to deal with a group of Ruskies led by Irina Spalko (Blanchett, not given much to do). Double-crossed by his pal Mac (Winstone) at a Nevada military base, Indy escapes only to find himself in a model town used for nuclear testing, leading to a ridiculous scene in which he survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead-lined fridge.
Things get worse with the introduction of Mutt (LaBeouf), Indy’s ex Marion’s son, who drags our hero to Peru to find an old colleague, Oxley (John Hurt), who had found a mythic crystal skull then disappeared. Throw in the return of the Russians who are after the same item, Marion’s big revelation (oh what could that be?), some double-crossing, special effects and a twist involving aliens, and you have a huge muddle that feels like it was rushed out rather than dithered over for 19 years. What a shame.
Is Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
Younger viewers may be scared by the large ants (especially when they swarm into someone’s mouth), and also by the creatures in the final scenes.
The scene in the graveyard is a little scary, too