The fedora is there.
And for sure, there’s Harrison Ford beneath the fedora.
Yes, Steven Spielberg is there again – calling the shots behind the camera as director, as he was for the previous three Indiana Jones movies.
But the magic just ain’t there in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which comes nearly two decades after the previous movie in the series.
Made on a lavish $195 million budget (excluding the mega-marketing budget), the latest installment of the Indiana Jones series is a rollercoaster ride without a coherent, gripping story to tie it all together in a pleasing package.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull reminds us of the ugly Bollywood movies where a coherent story is often an afterthought, if at all.
Just as our Bollywood directors bamboozle us with skimpily-clad heroines, foreign locales andÂ silly songs in lieu of a story, in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Steven Spielberg tries in vain to bedazzle us with treks through thick jungles teeming with big snakes, shrieking monkeys and scary red ants, slides down high waterfalls, moving columns of stones and fast car chases along steep mountain roads in illusory hopes that we’ll come along for the wild ride.
But a jolly good ride, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull certainly is not.
In the absence of a gripping story, the dialogs sound banal, the action scenes seem disjointed, contrived and tiresome after a while, and the overall effect is one of sheer boredom and a sense of utter disbelief and deep disappointment that the combined talent of two Hollywood luminaries Steven Spielberg and George Lucas could turn out such a mediocre movie (Lucas and Jeff Nathanson take credit for the story).
While the previous movie in the Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was set in 1938 with the Nazis cast as the bad guys, the latest version is set in the Cold War era of 1957. Of course, the Russians are the villains. Who else could it be in the Cold War period?
Now 65, Harrison Ford does a decent job as Indiana Jones, the smirks, stunts and all.
After an unpleasant encounter with a bunch of unsavory Russian agents led by a sinister looking Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) our familiar history professor Henry “Indiana” Jones jr (Harrison Ford) is persona non grata with the FBI and even his own college.
And off goes our disenchanted professor to Peru with young sidekick Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) in search of the Crystal Skull of Akator.
Cate Blanchett, who played Elizabeth I in Shekhar Kapoor’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) is cast as the evil Russian scientist in a charmless role that brings little credit to her or the movie.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and its predecessors Raiders of the Last Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (in which the late Amrish Puri had a powerful role) were mind-blowing movies.
Who can ever forget the great chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford (playing father and son respectively) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Remember the argument between father and son in the zeppelin or the scene when Harrison Ford hands his father’s priceless diary to Hitler, who duly autographs it.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull never comes even close to matching the dazzle of its predecessors.
But does it matter? Does anyone care that Shahrukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om or Rajinikanth’s Sivaji were mediocre movies at best?
No, it’s a frenzy play out here.
Such is the draw and appeal of the Indiana Jones franchise that for the 12:01 AM (yes, it’s AM in the morning) show on Thursday, the hall was about 60-70% full (we felt the audience reaction to the movie was muted).
Indy is back and the crowds want a piece of him.
No matter that this movie never hits any high notes and never scales the dazzling heights of its predecessors.