As far as movie trends go, last year was the year of the nerd. Judd Apatow, the most famous nerd second to Bill Gates, is a celebrated filmmaker with movies like Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, and this year’s Forgetting Sara Marshall.
The newest trend begs the question, “Has the aging movie star made a comeback?’’
So far, the tally includes: Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Rambo), Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man) and now Harrison Ford with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Twenty plus years ago, George Lucas made an action film using a slightly well-known actor with a smart answer for every comment. This man, Indy, is fearless and seems to know a lot about everything archaeological. Many an audience member fell for his charms and his skill with a whip.
This latest Indiana Jones is about Indy’s fight to save his newfound family from the Reds, a.k.a. the Communist Russians. The film is set in the late 1950s during the mass hysteria, when
Americans expected to find Russian spies at every corner. Exploiting this time period, Lucas has Indy being chased by the Russians trying to find a crystal skull that only Indy would be able to find.
Complete with the obligatory “treasure map” drawn in Ancient Mayan symbols, Indy and his son, Mutt (played by Shia LaBeouf), travel to Peru to find this crystal skull. Once it’s found, the real adventure begins.
Without spoiling the movie, I can tell you that it was a little surprising to find that this latest Indy lacks meaning. Most good movies, action or otherwise, have some kind of hidden meaning. It doesn’t have to be the meaning of life, but it’s usually something in the vein of “family is important” or “love the one you’re with” or even “live your life to the fullest.”
Movies with meanings make the audience think long after they have left the theater. Not so here. Indiana Jones 4 is just regular popcorn fair that’s entertaining, but the plot seems to disappear once you’ve left the theater. It’s just action and adventure for the sake of action and adventure.
Lucas, who only made this film to appease himself, clearly did not have Indy fans in mind during the process. According to Entertainment Weekly, Lucas was just making the movie as a nostalgic turn in filmmaking.
With that in mind, Indiana Jones is good, but don’t expect it to be anything more.
In keeping with the aging movie star scenario, Lucas cast Karen Allen to reprise her role as Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s old flame. Allen plays Marion just as well as she did over 20 years ago. LaBeouf, the young blood of the film, plays nicely with Ford. They both bounce off of each other’s talent naturally; just as father and son would.
Cate Blanchett, who plays Dr. Irina Spalko, is surprisingly good at being the Russian villainess. Her Russian accent was almost believable save for her British accent, which seeped in occasionally.
Screenwriter David Koepp spun the tale, with Lucas adding his input to the script. The script is good, but again, the lack of meaning made me feel shortchanged.
Director Steven Spielberg did a fine job, but then of course, it’s Steven Spielberg, arguably the highest paid director in Hollywood. Spielberg put his own spin on the script to make the audience members equally afraid and exhilarated throughout the film.
It is nice to see actors in their forties and fifties still making big box office films, doing their own stunts (like Ford and Stallone), and still being sexy (like Meryl Streep and the women of Sex and the City). If only this one had some meaning.