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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Stars: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent

Director: Steven Spielberg

Everything this man Jones (Ford) does seems to turn to dust - literally. It's a wonder the man ever brought any valuable artefacts back to America. Even his relationship with Marion (Allen) from Raiders of the Lost Ark fell apart just before the wedding.

And so the Temple of Doom - oops, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - inevitably crumbles away to nothing at the end of this all-too-typical Indy adventure.

Fortunately, 27 years after Raiders, Marion reappears, conveniently widowed and as sparky as ever, and a noticeably grizzled Indy - Ford is 66 this year - has two sidekicks, a wheezy Brit (Winstone) who keeps changing sides, and a brash teenager (LaBeouf) who wields a comb rather than a gun (this is 1957) but leads Indy into a quest to find the Crystal Skull of the title somewhere in the jungles of Peru.

As you'd expect, Ford has this role down pat, with ironic twists of the mouth, and such trademark comments as 'This is not good' just before some calamity overtakes. But he still cracks that bullwhip as if he means it and does some good action stuff too.

Along for the thrill ride are a black-wigged Blanchett as a KGB agent straight out of an early James Bond film, and Hurt as a potty archaeologist who keeps mumbling about returning the Skull to someone, after Indy has gone to the trouble of rooting it out.

At the end, the film turns into Close Encounters of the Third Kind - but then that was Spielberg too. Most of the action is conventional if well-staged - freshest idea is the gradually retracting steps down which our intrepid band must run ever faster - but there's a lot of yakking in between the set-pieces and those indifferent to Indy may find themselves suppressing the odd yawn or two.

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David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Paramount (LucasFilm). Technicolor.
122 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 27 May 2008