Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (3 stars)

Indiana Jones

(12A) 122min


Seventeen years after his Last Crusade, Harrison Ford picks up his fedora hat and returns for his most ambitious and outlandish adventure yet. It’s 1957 and the Soviets have replaced the Nazis as the biggest set of thugs on the planet. The villain is a Russian woman called Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett’s baddie is a classic cartoon villain and the best character in the film), who wants to trick Indy into uncovering the whereabouts and the secrets of a mythical crystal skull that are supposed to give the person who returns the skull to its rightful resting place incredible and unknown powers.

But the years are finally catching up with the archaeologist, he’s a bit slower to his gun, not so quick with his acerbic tongue, and none of his students seem to fancy him anymore; but this old dog still has a few tricks, most notably when he escapes a nuclear bomb blast in the most ingenious fashion.

It’s up there with the best moments in the series and, in this close shave, Ford puts to bed any thoughts that at 65 he cannot play a plausible action hero. Nevertheless for much of the adventure he’s given a new sidekick, Mutt Williams (Transformers star Shia LaBeouf), the son of Raiders of the Lost Ark leading lady Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). They have to venture to the Amazon forest in search of the missing city of Alkatar and their journey is punctuated with many spectacular stunts that are like a collection of the best moments from the series made bigger but, unfortunately, not better.

This Jones is better than The Temple of Doom but a long way from the heights of Raiders. Returning director Spielberg and new to the franchise screenwriter David Koepp (Mission:Impossible, Jurassic Park) are aware that this is probably the last outing for Ford as the whip cracking action hero and overcompensate by giving the film an annoying galactic dimension that serves only to undermine Spielberg’s greater cinematic achievements with extraterrestrials and android children.

General release from Thu 22 May.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

  • 3 stars
  • 2008
  • US
  • 2h 2min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
  • Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent

It's 1957, the Soviets have replaced the Nazis as the biggest set of thugs on the planet and Jones (Ford) has returned for his most outlandisih adventure yet. Russian baddie Spalko (Blanchett) is out to trick the hero into uncovering the secrets of a mythical crystal, a challenge which proves that the old dog still has a…