Friday, May 23, 2008

Indy's back and it's another fun run. There are thrills galore in "Crystal Skull", though some of the stunts are worth the scrutiny of the Mythbusters guys. How Indy escapes a nuclear blast test is unbelievable -- i.e., cannot be believed even with copious amounts of disbelief suspended; rather than whoa, awesome, dude!

In this fourth installment the action takes place in Indy's backyard: in the US and in South America. It's the 50s at the height of McCarthyism. Paranoia runs rampant against the Communist threat, and apparently with good reason as a whole platoon of KGB goons in US Army uniforms drive freely around the country seeking paranormal artifacts kept in cold storage in Area 51. Indy himself becomes a victim of the witchhunt due to his unwilling involvement with the Area 51 incident, and having previously lost Marcus Brody and Dr Jones Sr., and recently his tenure at the University, decides to start a new life across the Atlantic.

His journey east gets interrupted by Mutt, a young, leather-clad biker and school-dropout, who brings news that an old colleague and friend is in danger, so off they go to a family reunion of sorts in the jungles of South America.

Spielberg ties both modern and ancient mythology in this episode as Indy discovers a link between the ancient culture of the Meso-Americas and the Roswell incident of 1947. Apart from his escapades in fast moving vehicles on the edge of a precipiece, quicksand, army ants and the usual company of heavily-accented gun-totting goons, Indy movies are fun to watch because they invent answers to some of the mysteries left behind by our long-lost and forgotten ancestors whose technological prowess we tend to underestimate.

In Crystal Skull, we glimpse deiety in yet another form, though this time one that is less than traditionally conventional. From this perspective, the story gets quite a bit hokey with lots of plot loopholes. Like for example, what were the crystal skulls doing together for a thousand years before one got stolen; then when the one is finally returned, what's the reason for all the sudden fireworks? Action and adventure get a heavier weightage than a coherent storyline, but that's Indy.

Ultimately, Crystal Skull is commercial fluff. It's addictive, like a bucket of warm popcorn, and offers as much nutritional value.

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