Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Hearing about a new Indiana Jones movie all those months ago, I was caught up in a strange mix of excitement and anticipating disappointment. Indiana Jones is the absolute best Pulp Adventure movies that have been made in recent history. Pulp had it’s heyday, but even in the 80s, when Indy was King, it was a fading art. Since The Last Crusade, we’ve seen basically nothing in the way of good Pulp movies.

Sure there was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but while a good time, the movie simply lacked the charm (or is that a respectful lack thereof?) of Indiana Jones. Henry “Indiana” Jones Junior is the ideal everyman. Strong, athletic, educated, eloquent, clever, and cunning. And yet he’s not unstoppable. Indy gets beat up. He loses. He makes mistakes. He’s a hero because he doesn’t give up, and through his perseverance he always manages to come out ahead.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an excellent movie, with which Lucas and Spielberg have tried to lay the foundation for many more movies. Harrison Ford, who is himself nearly two decades older than he was in The Last Crusade, which works since the story takes place at least 15 years after said movie.

The plot is pure Indy. Indy begins the movie captured by the KGB, since the movie is set in 1957, the Nazi’s just aren’t a relevant enemy anymore, and they go to Warehouse 51, the mysterious Government Warehouse where we saw them stashing the Ark of the Covenant at the end of Raiders. Indy helps the Russians uncover a mysterious crate, which contains a highly metallic humanoid shape in a weird casing. Indy attempts to stop the Russians, but his friend turns on him and Indy is forced to let it go, though not without a great fight.

Due to a run-in with the J Edgar Hoover’s FBI, Indy ends up losing his job at the University, and prepares to head off to Europe to teach, only to be stopped by a young man named Mutt Williams, who seems to know Dr. Harold Oxley, a character Indy apparently knew around the time of Raiders, but who has never appeared in Film before.

Mutt, played by Shia LeBouf, convinces Indy to go to South America to try to save Oxley and Mutt’s mother, who happens to be Marion from Raider’s. That’s right, Indy finally gets reunited with the love of his life. Not surprisingly, Mutt turns out to be Indy’s son. That’s right, Shia LeBouf has been selected to take up the Fedora and the Bullwhip, in continuation of the storyline. I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but I did enjoy the Mutt character, and I know that I’ll see a movie centered around Mutt, if one is made.

As he has since 1981, Indiana Jones embodies the Pulp genre. There are big fights, strange enemies, and impossible challenges that our hero manages to overcome. It’s a good ride, and definitely worth the price of admission. I wasn’t a big fan of the climax of the movie, and the resolution, as I felt it stepped well outside what I felt was Indy’s penumbra, but I wasn’t irritated enough to not enjoy the movie.

So, if you’re looking for a big blockbuster to spend some time on, you could do a lot worse than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. For those comic book fans, Dark Horse comics is printing a comic version of the story in two parts, or the Trade Paperback was released with issue one, so if you prefer that, you can get it at your local comic shop. It follows the same basic story, but the telling is a bit different, and it looks to be like a good read.