Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Written by:David Koepp
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent
Released: May 22, 2008
Grade: B+

The last Indiana Jones film was released back in 1989.  In terms of moviemaking, much has changed over the last two decades.  Action films are now filled with special effects and fast-paced editing.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it’s just natural evolution.

I read a recent interview with Steven Spielberg where he talked about the making of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.  He wanted to make it just like a traditional action flick – where you can always see what’s going on and there are heaps of cool stunts.  I appreciate this style and think it suits the movie.  When you see the simple opening credits, you’d be forgiven for thinking this movie was actually made back in the 1980s.

This time around, Indiana (Ford) finds himself on a quest to locate a crystal skull.  He thought it was a mere legend but a letter from an old friend has him thinking otherwise.  He’s not the only one looking for it.  There’s a group of KGB agents being led by psychic Irina Spalko (Blanchett) who want it for their own purposes.  Helping Indiana on his quest is a new young friend named Mutt Williams (LaBeouf).  Mutt’s trying to find his mum who was kidnapped by the nasty Russians. 

It’s a silly story with a strange ending but I still enjoyed watching it.  The action sequences were the clear highlight – they kept me glued to the screen.  The best moment is a lengthy car chase where the bad guys chase the good guys through a jungle.  The scene includes some flesh eat ants and a death-defying waterfall escape.  It’s thrilling to watch but humorous at the same time.

Before I get too carried away, you have to remember that this still has its fair share of clichés.  It’s not breaking any new ground in terms of its originality.  The film features my most annoying cliché – the one where baddies can’t kill anyone despite the fact they are shooting multiple times at point blank range.  There should be training program where villains can go and learn these basic skills.  It’d at least make it a fair fight.

Of the cast, Shia LeBeouf and Cate Blanchett turn in the best performances.  LaBeouf brings youth to the movie and he has the right personality for the role.  The way he continually combs his hair was a nice touch.  Blanchett has an amusing accent and you can tell she had fun playing the villain.

I had some doubts about this sequel but for the most part, it lives up to the hype.  It’s a good, old fashioned adventure that is best watched in a packed cinema with a large bucket of popcorn.