REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Karen allen (Scrooged)
Ray Winstone (The Departed)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
llia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Ernie Reyes Jr. (Welcome To The Jungle)

In 1957, nineteen years after The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and his partner George “Mac” McHale are kidnapped in Nevada by Soviet agents under Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko. The Soviets infiltrate warehouse labeled “Warehouse 51” and force Jones to locate an alien corpse with a crystal skull, recovered ten years earlier. Upon its discovery, Mac reveals he is a double agent working for the Soviets. Jones escapes, unsuccessfully attempts to retrieve the skull, and in a fight with Spalko’s sadistic henchman, Colonel Antonin Dovchenko, they both fall onto a rocket sled, which ignites and speeds them away. Jones staggers away and, still pursued, arrives in a model town at the Nevada Test Site, minutes before an atomic bomb test, and takes shelter in a lead-lined refrigerator. Jones is rescued, decontaminated, and arrested by FBI agents, who suspect him of working for the Soviets; and though freed on the recommendation of General Ross, who vouches for him, he is put on indefinite leave of absence from Marshall College, also at the cost of the dean having to resign to keep Indiana’s job at the college.
Jones is approached by greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who tells him that Harold Oxley had found a crystal skull in Peru, suffered a mental breakdown, and was later kidnapped. In return, Jones tells Mutt about the legend of crystal skulls found in Akator. Mutt gives Jones a letter from his mother, who is also held captive, containing a riddle written by Oxley in an ancient Native American language. KGB agents try to take the letter, but Jones and Mutt evade them and reach Peru. At the local psychiatric hospital, Oxley’s scribbles on the walls and floor of his cell lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador searching for Akator. They discover the skull at the grave, with Jones reasoning that Oxley had returned it there.
On leaving the grave site, Jones and Mutt are captured by Mac and the Soviets and taken to their camp in the Amazon jungle, where they find Oxley and Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood, who later reveals that Mutt is Jones’ son, Henry Jones III. Jones berates her for not convincing him to finish school. Mac tells Jones he is really a CIA double-agent to regain Jones’ trust. Spalko believes that the crystal skull belongs to an alien life form and holds great psychic power, and that finding more skulls in Akator will grant the Soviets the advantage of psychic warfare. Spalko uses the skull on Jones to enable him to understand Oxley and identify a route to Akator. Jones and his four allies escape with the skull into the Amazon. They elude giant ants (possibly a relation of Eciton burchellii [1], which Jones refers to as “siafu”), and after Dovchenko loses a fight with Jones, he is devoured by the ants. Jones and his allies survive three waterfalls in a GAZ 46 amphibious vehicle (which gets destroyed after the third drop), as many of the Soviets fall from a cliff while trying to pursue them. Jones and Oxley then identify a rock formation that leads them to Akator, unaware that Mac is still loyal to Spalko and has been dropping transceivers to allow the surviving Soviets to track them.
They escape the city’s guardians, gain access to the temple, and find it filled with artifacts from many ancient civilizations. Indy believes the aliens – in fact, inter-dimensional beings – were “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth, and Mac remarks that there’s not a museum in the world that wouldn’t sell its soul for the collection inside the temple. The five enter a chamber containing the crystal skeletons of thirteen enthroned skeletal crystal beings, one missing its skull. Spalko arrives and presents the skull to this skeleton. It suddenly flies from her hands to the skeleton and rejoins, whereupon the aliens reanimate and telepathically offer a reward in ancient Mayan through Oxley. A portal to their dimension becomes activated, and Spalko demands knowledge equal to the aliens’. The thirteen beings fuse into one, and in the process of receiving the overwhelming knowledge, Spalko is disintegrated and sucked into the portal leaving behind her shoes. Indy, Marion, Henry, and Oxley – now released from the skull – escape, while the Soviets are also drawn into the portal. Mac is caught in the pull while trying to scrounge some of the treasure, and even though Indy offers him the whip to pull him to safety, he replies with a wink of his eye, “Jonesy, I’m gonna be all right,” lets go and is pulled in. The survivors watch as the temple walls crumble, revealing a flying saucer rising from the debris, which vanishes into the “space between spaces” while the hollow in the valley floor left by its departure is flooded by the waters of the Amazon.
The following year, Indy is reinstated at Marshall College and made an associate dean. He and Marion are then married (finally) in a church. As the wedding party leaves the chapel, a gust of wind blows through the doors and Indy’s brown fedora flies off the coat rack and deposits it at Henry’s feet. Henry picks it up and is about to don it before Indy takes it from him and puts it on with a grin.
There are moments in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that are easy to make fun of. However, they amount to nothing but a few shots. When you take in the overall piece, Indy 4 is as fun and exciting as the previous three Indy movies.

 

 

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REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE

CAST
Harrison Ford (Star Wars)
Sean Connery (Highlander)
Alison Doody (A View To A Kill)
Denholm Elliott (Trading Places)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
River Phoenix (Stand By Me)
Michael Byrne (Bravehart)
Alex Hyde-White (Pretty Woman)
In 1912, 13-year-old Indiana Jones is horseback riding with his Boy Scout troop in Moab, Utah. While scouting caves, Indy discovers a group of grave robbers who have found a golden crucifix belonging to Coronado and steals it from them, hoping to donate it to a museum. The men give chase through a passing circus train, leaving Indy with a bloody cut across his chin from a bullwhip and a new phobia of snakes. Indy escapes, but the local sheriff makes him return the crucifix. Impressed with Indy’s bravery, the leader of the robbers gives Indy his fedora.
In 1938, two years after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy recovers the crucifix off the coast of Portugal and donates it to Marcus Brody’s museum. Later, Indy is introduced to Walter Donovan, who informs him that Indy’s father, Henry Jones, Sr., has vanished while searching for the Holy Grail, using an incomplete inscription as his guide. Indy then receives Henry’s Grail diary via mail from Venice. Realizing that he would not have sent the diary unless he was in trouble, Indy and Marcus travel to Venice, where they meet Henry’s Austrian colleague, Dr. Elsa Schneider. Beneath the library where Henry was last seen, Indy and Elsa discover the tomb of a First Crusade knight, which also contains a complete version of the inscription that Henry had used, this one revealing the location of the Grail. They flee, however, when the catacombs are set aflame by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society that protects the Grail from evildoers. After a speedboat chase, Indy and Elsa capture one of the Brotherhood, Kazim, and Indy tells him that his goal is only to find his father and that he has no interest in finding the Grail. Kazim tells him that Henry is being held in Castle Brunwald on the Austrian-German border. Marcus later reveals a map drawn by Henry of the route to the Grail, which begins in Alexandretta.
At Castle Brunwald, Indy rescues Henry, but learns that Elsa and Donovan are actually working with the Nazis, and are using him to find the Grail for them. Meanwhile, Marcus is captured in Hatay, Turkey, while waiting with Sallah for the Joneses. The Joneses escape from Castle Brunwald and recover the diary from Elsa at a Nazi rally in Berlin, barely escaping from an accidental face to face encounter with Adolf Hitler, who casually autographs Henry’s diary. They board a Zeppelin to leave Germany, but the Zeppelin soon turns around and the Joneses escape in a parasite biplane. They crash while engaging in a dogfight with the Luftwaffe due to Henry’s accidentally shooting the plane’s tail off, but Henry redeems himself on the ground by alarming a flock of birds to take flight in front of the Luftwaffe fighter causing the pilot to crash.
The two meet up with Sallah in Hatay, where they learn of Marcus’s abduction. The Nazis are already moving toward the Grail’s location, using the map possessed by Marcus. In exchange for a Rolls-Royce Phantom II, the Sultan of Hatay has given the Nazis full access to his equipment for the expedition, including a large tank. Indy, Henry, and Sallah find the Nazi expedition, which is ambushed by the Brotherhood. During the battle, Henry is captured by SS Colonel Ernst Vogel while attempting to rescue Marcus from the tank; Kazim and his comrades are killed. The younger Jones pursues the tank on horseback and, with the aid of Sallah, saves Henry and Marcus. He is then caught up in a fight with Vogel, and barely escapes before the tank goes over a cliff, crushing Vogel to death.
 
Indy, Henry, Marcus, and Sallah catch up with the surviving Nazis, led by Donovan and Elsa, who have found the temple where the Grail is kept but are unable to pass through the three protective booby traps. Donovan shoots Henry, mortally wounding him, in order to force Indy to risk his life in the traps to find the Grail and use its healing power to save Henry. Using the information in the diary and followed by Donovan and Elsa, Indy safely overcomes the traps (circular blades, a word puzzle, and an invisible bridge across a bottomless pit), and reaches the Grail’s chamber, which is guarded by a knight. He has been kept alive for seven hundred years by the power of the Grail, which is hidden among dozens of fake Grails. The knight explains that they must choose which Grail they think is the real one but warns them to choose wisely because even though the real Grail brings life, all of the fake Grails take life away.
Elsa betrays Donovan by deliberately giving him a golden chalice, which causes him to decay into dust upon drinking from it. Indy then uses his expert knowledge to find the true Grail, a plain cup of a carpenter, which the knight warns cannot be taken beyond the great seal at the temple’s entrance. Indy fills the Grail with holy water and takes it to Henry, which they give to him to drink along with pouring the rest on his gunshot wound, instantly healing him. Elsa then takes the Grail past the great seal, ignoring and forgetting the knight’s warning. The temple begins to rapidly collapse and, even as Indy attempts to save her, Elsa falls to her death into an abyss because she is unable to let go of her obsession with the Grail. Indy nearly suffers the same fate, but is saved by Henry, who convinces him to let it go. While the knight watches them, the Joneses, Marcus, and Sallah then narrowly escape the collapsing temple. Afterwards, Henry reveals the origins of Indy’s nickname to the group as the name of the family’s former dog before they all ride off into the sunset.
 
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with its crisp script, thrilling music by John Williams, fine directing by Spielberg and a convincing chemistry between Ford and Connery, is one of the best action films made in the 1980s, and its release on DVD proves that it, like the other films in the series, has aged well.

REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM

 

CAST
Harrison Ford (Star Wars)
Kate Capshaw (Space Camp)
Jonathan Ke Quan (The Goonies)
Amrish Puri (Gandhi)
Roshan Seth (Veritcal Limit)
Phillip Stone (The Shining)
Ric Young (Alias)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Pat Roach (Willow)
In 1935, Indiana Jones narrowly escapes the clutches of Lao Che, a crime boss in Shanghai in the Republic of China. With his 11-year-old Chinese sidekick Short Round and the nightclub singer Willie Scott in tow, Indy flees Shanghai on an airplane that, unknown to them, is owned by Lao. While the three of them sleep on the plane, the pilots parachute out, and they leave the plane to crash over the Himalayas while dumping its fuel. Indy, Shorty, and Willie discover this and narrowly manage to escape by jumping out of the plane on an inflatable raft, and then riding down the slopes into a raging river. They come to Mayapore, a desolate village in northern India, where the poor villagers believe them to have been sent by the Hindu god Shiva and enlist their help to retrieve the sacred Sivalinga stone stolen from their shrine, as well as the community’s children, from evil forces in the nearby Pankot Palace. During the journey to Pankot, Indy hypothesizes that the stone may be one of the five fabled Sankara stones that promise fortune and glory.
The trio receive a warm welcome from the Prime Minister of Pankot Palace, Chattar Lal. The visitors are allowed to stay the night as guests, during which they attend a lavish but grotesque banquet given by the young Maharajah, Zalim Singh. Chattar Lal rebuffs Indy’s questions about the villagers’ claims and his theory that the ancient Thuggee cult is responsible for their troubles. Later that night, Indy is attacked by an assassin, leading Indy, Willie, and Shorty to believe that something is amiss. They discover a series of tunnels hidden behind a statue in Willie’s room and set out to explore them, overcoming a number of booby-traps along the way.
The trio eventually reach an underground temple where the Thugs worship the Hindu goddess Kali with human sacrifice. They discover that the Thugs, led by their evil, bloodthirsty high priest Mola Ram are in possession of three of the five Sankara stones, and have enslaved the children to mine for the final two stones, which they hope will allow them to rule the world. As Indy tries to retrieve the stones, he, Willie, and Shorty are captured and separated. Indy is whipped and forced to drink a potion called the “Blood of Kali”, which places him in a trance-like state where he begins to mindlessly serve the Thugs. Willie, meanwhile, is kept as a human sacrifice, while Shorty is put to work in the mines alongside the enslaved children. Shorty breaks free and escapes back into the temple where he burns Indy with a torch, shocking him out of the trance. After defeating Chattar Lal, also a Thuggee worshiper, they go back to the mines to free the children, but Indy is caught up in a fight with a hulking overseer. The Maharajah, who was also forcibly entranced by the “Blood of Kali,” attempts to cripple Indy with a voodoo doll. Shorty spars with the Maharajah, ultimately burning him to snap him out of the trance. With his strength returned, Indy kills the overseer. The Maharajah then tells Shorty how to get out of the mines. While Mola Ram escapes, Indy and Shorty rescue Willie and retrieve the three Sankara stones, the village children escape.
After a mine cart chase to escape the temple, the trio emerge above ground and are again cornered by Mola Ram and his henchmen on a rope bridge high above a crocodile-infested river. Using a sword, Indy cuts the rope bridge in half, leaving everyone to hang on for their lives. Indy utters an incantation which causes the stones to glow red hot. Two of the stones fall into the river, while the last falls into Mola Ram’s hand, burning him. Indy catches the now-cool stone, while Mola Ram falls into the river below, where he is devoured by a Mugger crocodile. The Thugs then attempt to shoot Indy with arrows, until a company of British Indian Army riflemen from Pankot arrive, having been summoned by the palace Maharajah. In the ensuing firefight, many of the Thuggee archers are killed and the remainder are surrounded and captured. Indy, Willie, and Shorty return victoriously to the village with the children and give the missing stone back to the villagers.
The film itself is a non-stop action, adventure ride. Harrison Ford is once again amazing as the professor/archaeologist thrill seeker. Short Round is a loveable character who adds a humorous touch, and reveals the more compassionate side of Indy’s character. The ceremony scenes are truly breathtaking and tense. During these scenes the film contains some very graphic images, but are used justifiably to convey the real dark, feel of this film . The mine cart chase scenes are the most amazing, fast moving action sequence in any of the Indy films, and you feel like you’re on a roller coaster each time you watch it. All these events lead to the film’s spectacular and memorable climax.

REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Karen Allen (The Perfect Storm)
Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Ronald Lacey (Red Sonja)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Denholm Elliott (Trading Places)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Wolf Kahler (Barry Lyndon)
Anthony Higgins (Young Sherlock Holmes)
William Hootkins (Batman)
Pat Roach (Kull The Conqueror)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones surrenders the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane. Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood, under whom Jones studied at the University of Chicago. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Kingdom of Egypt, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.
The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to the Kingdom of Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion. Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She physically rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht. Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire and Toht severely burns his hand trying to take the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.
The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah, a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a fistfight with a Nazi mechanic and destroys the flying wing that was to transport the Ark to Berlin. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.
The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a panzerfaust, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death; their beautiful appearance gives way to fangs and rotting flesh. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and, utilizing Belloq as a conductor, shoots bolts of fiery energy into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion, and the pillar of fire rises into the sky. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.
In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was revolutionary cinema, paving way for summer blockbusters that would attempt for the same winning mix of thrills and humor. Only its sequels matched and/or surpassed it, but some have actually come close (The Mummy). If you haven’t seen Raiders yet, put it on the top of your list.