- To those who spent the last several years offering lame jokes about Indiana Jones and the Retirement Home, be prepared to eat some crow. Yes, Indy does look quite a bit older than the last time we saw him, and fine, it's kind of absurd to expect a 60-year-old man to do what Dr. Jones does. In the real world. In a series that offers vengeful gods, mine cart roller coasters, and immortal knights ... are we really going to whine about an actor with a few new wrinkles on his face? Ford does many of his own stunts here, plus he's aided by several stuntmen, a few CG tricks, and some masterful editing. Not once does this guy seem too old to be doing his thing. As far as Mr. Ford's actual performance is concerned, he slips back into the character with no effort whatsoever. Wiser and more weathered, but absolutely the same old Indy.
At this point you'd probably like a simple answer to a simple question: "Is it as good as the other ones?" To which I would answer "Yes, absolutely ... aside from the first one." To me (and many others), Raiders of the Lost Ark is right up there on a level with Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, and The Godfather. In comparison, I consider Temple of Doom to be a stellar collection of action scenes that are punctuated by sub-par dialog and a horribly annoying damsel, while Last Crusade is a warm-hearted and creative adventure movie that suffered just a little bit from downright familiarity. So while I really enjoy Temple and Crusade, they don't hold a candle to their big brother. And Crystal Skull follows that arc to a tee: It's definitely got some over-clunky dialog, a touch of over-ripe "expositionzing," and at least one action beat that feels patently ridiculous, but complaining about those things (in the face of so much colorful fun) seems a bit greedy -- like opening your Christmas presents and then saying "That's it?!?!"
Ultimately, you certainly don't need this review like you'd maybe need a review of something small, indie, or festival-bound, since you already know full well if you want to see a movie called Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. If you've made it this far, you probably just want to know what an old-school fan (who also happens to be a movie critic) thinks of the movie. Yes, I saw all three Indy flicks during their theatrical run, and more times than I care to mention. So with both sides of my brain (the geeky nostalgia side and the semi-smart analytical side) in working order, I can most assuredly recommend Indiana Jones Part 4 as one of the most comfortably entertaining adventure movies of the past several years. To expect any movie to live up to the Raiders standard is simply unfair, but Crystal Skull fits very excellently next to both Temple of Doom and Last Crusade.
- I can say that if you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one, and that if you did not, there is no talking to you.