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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (****)
directed by Steven Spielberg
written by David Koepp, from a story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson,
featuring characters created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Principal Cast
Harrison Ford -- Indiana Jones
Cate Blanchett -- Col. Dr. Irina Spalko
Karen Allen -- Marion Ravenwood
Shia LaBeouf -- Mutt Williams
Ray Winstone -- George 'Mac' McHale
John Hurt -- Professor Harold 'Ox' Oxley
Jim Broadbent -- Dean Charles Stanforth
Igor Jijikine -- Dovchenko
Alan Dale -- General Ross
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

The new Indiana Jones movie is the best action-adventure film I've seen in a long time. You would have to go back to the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie for one as good. But it is not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings. I think for a film to be that good, it has to be a new idea, with new characters.

If you go into the film expecting it to make sense, you may be disappointed. I hate to tell you, but Raiders of the Lost Ark didn't make sense either. On the other hand if you expect thrills and adventure, thrills and adventure is what you get. The review in The New Yorker, which praised it with faint damns, compared the race through the jungle to Buster Keaton's great comedies. Crystal Skull is not quite as good as The General, but I find myself feeling it is a little unfair to compare a very good movie with the greatest movies of all time.

Indiana Jones movies are supposed to be over the top. Accept that and you'll have fun.

The movie, especially the first third, is full of tropes and references to the 50s. The government of Russia, so I'm told, has objected to the use of communists as villains. I'm sorry that their feelings are hurt. I am not one of those who characterizes the USSR as the Evil Empire. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. On the other hand, I must admit to a certain perverse satisfaction that the Ruskies just don't get it. The movie is about America in the 50s. It has nothing to do with them.

Steven Spielberg's direction and David Koepp's script are what make this film as entertaining as it is. Last night I watched one of the Young Indiana Jones made-for-TV movies, Treasure of the Peacock's Eye. The goal of the filmmakers, at least in the first half, was much the same as the goal of Steven Spielberg in making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, to tell a rousing adventure story with exotic settings and over-the-top action. And the plot of Peacock's Eye is not that different from the plot of Crystal Skull. I'm sure the writer and the director of Peacock's Eye did their best. But their best wasn't very good.

Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and David Koepp are very good indeed.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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