It also makes Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull a hard film to write a review for – it’s not often that a beloved franchise from your childhood gets a sequel made this long after its original trilogy was closed.
Let’s not forget how the Star Wars prequels were wasted opportunities.
So does Indy 4 shine like the Ark of the Covenant? Or does it stink like a 700-year-old knight?
Well, the good news is that the film is good fun; Harrison Ford fits back into the role as if he never left and it’s not long before he’s running around avoiding bad guys and punching people in the face.
The film brings some new characters along as well. Cate Blanchett plays the evil Russian soldier Spalko who masters the evil stare but doesn’t offer a lot else. Elsewhere, Shia LaBeouf, or The Beef as we like to call him, brings suitable pent-up aggression and naivety to the role that makes the chemistry between him and Ford a high point.
Talking of chemistry, Karen Allen is back as Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and her scenes with Indy are great.
Not so great is Ray Winstone, whose role is little more than shouting “Indy!” and getting punched in the nose. It’s not his fault, but his character is a pointless addition to a bulky cast.
Normally, a bigger ensemble cast of such high pedigree actors leads us to shout for joy, but the filmmakers know, as we do, that this is a film based around one person – Indiana – and so characters like Winstone’s and John Hurt‘s make little impact in the short amount of time they’re given.
In fact, unneeded characters are just one bulletpoint on a list of things that stop the film becoming the classic we all hoped it would be.
There’s the much talked about ‘Tarzan’ moment that was certainly a bad choice to include in the film, as well as the lacklustre ending, which had us leaving the cinema with a bad taste in our mouths. Plus, we feel that Lucas and Spielberg misjudged the mystery aspect of the series.
A lot of the film does work, though. The chemistry between the main characters is top notch, as you would hope, and the action set-pieces are all very good in their own way. Again though, it feels like an opportunity has been missed and someone has forgotten the point somewhere along the line.
A motorbike chase in the film is a standout set piece as we can see it revolves around stunt work and practical effects, unlike later on in the film when a truck chase is filled with some CGI that, while good, certainly doesn’t have the charm and suspense of the more realistic stunts in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Overall though, we do recommend seeing this. It’s not as good as the previous entries but still has its high points. It’s unfortunate, however, that many of its low points come towards the end of the film and let it down so much. It’s great to see Indy back on the big screen and it’s a fun ride that, like its counterparts, isn’t to be taken too seriously. Go see it, enjoy it and hope for another sequel that will finish of the franchise with a bang rather than a whimper.
[story by David Scarborough]