Thursday, May 29, 2008

Indiana Jones is back in Indy 4

Indiana Jones is finally back on the big screen! Indy 4 is named Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Dr Henry Jones II, Junior was last seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which is still my favourite Indiana Jones movie even though the trilogy is now a tetralogy. I guess nothing can beat a Harrison Ford and Sean Connery teamup.
[this review may contain spoilers]
We last saw Indiana Jones in 1938 (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).
This movie was set in 1957, many years after the last movie and Indiana Jones is a tenured professor of archaeology. In the time between the last movie and this, Jones was involved as a spy for the United States.
The enemy now is not the Nazis but the Russians. The 1950s was a time of Communist paranoid and the movie reflects this. The Russians want a particular crystal skull that when returned to its owner will reward the one who do so with incredible power. What is fascinating is that the skull belongs to an alien (yes, Indiana Jones finally meets X-files) and the kingdom of the crystal skull is El-Dorado-the city of God of the Mayan legend in Peru.
Skulls are humanity's foremost symbol of death, and a powerful icon in the visual vocabularies of cultures all over the globe. Thirteen crystal skulls of apparently ancient origin have been found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America, comprising one of the most fascinating subjects of 20th Century archaeology.

These skulls, found near the ancient ruins of Mayan and Aztec civilizations (with some evidence linking the skulls with past civilization in Peru) are a mystery as profound as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Nazca Lines of Peru, or Stonehenge. Some of the skulls are believed to be between 5,000 and 36,000 years old. (read more about crystal skulls)
While the beginning of the movie was slow moving, it finally erupted into the Indiana Jones magic on screen. There are clever references to the previous three movies. And of course all the ingredients are there; fear of snakes, Jones being beaten up, fantastic fights on moving vehicles, use of his whip, ancient buildings with traps, Jones' familiarity with ancient languages, his ability to solve encrypted puzzles within a few minutes, and falling down tall cliffs or waterfalls without any crippling injuries. Knowing that he will not be injured or killed leaves one able to relax and enjoy all his escapades. Clearly Harrison Ford's age have not masked but instead enhanced his acting as Indiana Jones.

Two things come out clearly in all Indiana Jones movies which makes us love this character. First is his sense of morality. For him, something is either good or evil and there are no gray areas. Another is his sense of loyalty to his friends; even those who betrayed him. He would reach out to them to try to save them.
I love the final piece of the puzzle of El-Dorado which has to do with exegesis of the ancient Mayan language. El-Dorado is often translated as city of gold. However as Jones explained, it may also be translated as city of treasures and the greatest treasure is knowledge.
It is incredible fun for Indiana Jones fans. However some of the settings and violence may not be suitable for young children.

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