Mr. Lucas, just give old Indy a rest already

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Mr. Lucas, just give old Indy a rest already

As the end credits rolled for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” I reached to switch my cell phone off silent mode, only to see I’d received a text message from a co-worker.

“Crystal skull sucks big,” he’d written. So it wasn’t just me.

I’d sat through the two hour action extravaganza suppressing my yawns.

But I was glad to see that the film’s inability to enthrall was a symptom of its own faults, not mine as someone rather indifferent to Indy.

It’s not that I hate Indiana Jones; not at all.

I just wasn’t foaming at the mouth to see this film, unlike the rest of Korea, it seems (theaters in Seoul are playing Crystal Skull on multiple screens throughout the weekend, and the Yongsan Garrison theater is playing only Indy).

The sequel wasn’t without merits, though. This time around, Harrison Ford’s brilliant archaeologist-cum-action hero Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is initially held hostage by the KGB, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), a brilliant scientist who purports to have psychic powers.

Blanchett, with her unlined alabaster skin, blunt bob and slimly tailored military uniform, is the visual foil to the dashingly rumpled, leathery Jones

Unfortunately, Spalko, even as she brandishes a rapier, simply isn’t threatening enough to provide a fit narrative adversary for the witty archaeologist.

Ford’s Indy can still dish out snappy comebacks in even the stickiest of situations, thanks to the collaborative efforts of series mastermind George Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp.

I laughed out loud several times at Jones’ wisecracks, which were sadly wasted opposite Spalko in her thick, cumbersome Russian accent.

Don’t expect any crackling repartee between these two.

If Lucas meant Jones to have a conversational counter this time, it’s teenage greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who aids Indy as he eludes the KGB and quests to rescue Williams’ mother Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and their pal Professor Oxley (John Hurt).

But Mutt is little more than comic relief; in his first scene, he rolls in on a motorbike dressed like a member of the Village People, cap at jaunty angle and all, and his nervous tic of combing his pompadour hardly screams an able sidekick.

Lucasfilm’s special effects are up to their old standards, with tons of creepy crawlies and elaborate sets.

But the action scenes ? the crux of this film ? just lack the sizzle required to make Crystal Skull worthy of grouping alongside its predecessors.

Then there’s the ill-conceived plot twist that adds a sprinkling of Area 51-style intrigue in 1950s-era Crystal Skull. “Star Wars” (or rather “X-Files”) elements are simply incongruous in a film with poodle skirts.

Crystal Skull comes 19 years after 1989’s “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” and Lucas should have let the series rest then. But even though Crystal Skull failed to measure up to expectations, Lucas doesn’t definitively close the book on old Indy.

To foreshadow a new chapter of the series, the hero’s trademark fedora blows onto the toes of LaBeouf’s Mutt. But please, Mr. Lucas, spare us.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Action, adventure / English

123 min.

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By Hannah Bae Contributing Writer [hannahbae@gmail.com]
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