Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Reviewed on 2008 May 23
Several critics have said this was the weakest of the Indiana Jones films. It was, but trying to pick the weakest one of these is kind of like trying to pick your least favorite candy at Fanny May — it’s still freaking sweet. For the 123 minutes it ran, it did its job of making me forget the loads of laundry I should have been doing and the walls I should have been painting.
After a good (and atypical) beginning that plants us in 1957, Indy (Harrison Ford) faces a different kind of enemy: a group of Cold War-era Communist Russians intent on getting a crystal skull and fashioning it into a psychic weapon. They’re led by Colonel Professor Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), a seemingly unstoppable Soviet with a Louise Brooks haircut and Natasha Fatale accent. She’s all business, offering Indiana a chance to do things the easy way or the hard way.
Since Indy has about the same opinion of Commies as he does Nazis, we fasten our seatbelts with him. Fighting off Irina and her crew would be messy enough, but Indy gets an unplanned partner — a kid named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), who has his own reasons for helping Indy.
This isn’t perfect — parts in the middle do lag, and some of the ending sequence is too much — but parts of it are excellent. The acting was good, even when it was a little thick. Cate Blanchett was so vicious here that she made Elizabeth seem frail, and still somehow avoided being cartoonish. There’s a nice dark vein of humor throughout the story, and the story itself arced nicely.
Three chocolate morsels.