Digging up cinema relics

Aida Nassar
5 Min Read

It was a gutsy move on the formidable production team of Lucas Films and Paramount to brush the dust off Indiana Jones’ fedora and send him on another wild goose chase.

Whether it was spurred on by a bout of nostalgia or shrewd business acumen, moviegoers worldwide were eager to take their seats in theaters to see if Harrison Ford could crack his whip as sharply after a 19-year hiatus.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premiered in Cairo last Tuesday, as Indy fans filed into the cinema at Nile City Towers in anticipation.

While many walked out still diehard fans of the adventurous archaeology professor, they were outnumbered by the grumbling moans of disenchanted viewers.

To appreciate this film, you have to be a fan of the Indy franchise. It seems that there are many movie critics that fall into that category judging on the generous reviews:

“[This] is a movie for boomers of all ages, though you can bet the bank that plenty of tots will be tagging along with Mom and Dad, Granny and Gramps, wrote Manohla Dargis in The New York Times.

It’s quite admirable that Ford can squeeze into the same khakis and leather jacket. It’s even more surprising that he can keep up with the fast-paced action in his dotage. This sequel is set during the Cold War in the 1950s when university professors were forced to wear appalling tweed jackets and bow ties.

Replacing the Nazi villains of the first three films, the communist bad guys have a satirical feel, which is only heightened by Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the Slavic femme fatale Irina Spalko who carries a sharp rapier to match her sharp haircut.

Spalko lures Indy to join her in the search for the crystal skulls which she believes to be the key to mind-control powers, and the next generation of weapons to wield in the Cold War. Blanchett’s performance seems to be based on a comic book character.

She slides rather than walks, and not one wrinkle appears on her gray jumpsuit despite the chase scenes, the jungle humidity, and a dueling match atop a racing jeep. It’s a stark contrast to Indy’s disheveled outfit, strategically and artistically placed sweat stains, and tailored gray stubble.

Just as the women in the audience are overcome with pangs of jealousy that men can age so gracefully (and date women half their age, as Ford escorted Calista Flockhart to the movie’s premier in Cannes), Kate Allen – Indy’s love interest from “Raiders of the Lost Ark – makes her appearance on screen. She may have a few laugh lines around her eyes, but she’s still captivating with her smile and feistiness.

While “Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls feels like a retro thrill ride, with computer-generated effects that take you back to the heyday of “The Empire Strikes Back, the story line feels familiar.

It’s a blend of past Indy films, with a touch of “Stargate and “X-files thrown into the mix. It’s surprising that it took George Lucas 10 years to come up with the story, as he claims during interviews with the press.

Like the cast and director Stephen Spielberg, it feels like something old and something borrowed. The something new is the breath of fresh air from Shia LaBeouf (of “Transformers ) playing Kate Allen’s son, and trying to channel James Dean.

If you grew up watching the Indiana Jones movies, this movie will feel like a blast from the past. It revives those same feelings of fun-filled excitement.

It’s comforting, like taking a bite of your favorite childhood cereal. But, the feeling fades when you start to wonder, “Did it always have that artificial after-taste?

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