Hollywood Hues
Indiana fails to rock

The latest Indiana Jones film is more pain than pleasure, writes Ervell E. Menezes

So, 27 years after the Last Crusade (never say "last" in Hollywood), Prof Henry "Indiana" Jones, alias Harrison Ford, is back at his old game, this time at the height of the Cold War, their favourite punching bag, and it is 1957 in a Nevada desert when they have to combat Russian spies, the film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Old limousines, Chevies and Buicks lend a nostalgic air and an I Like Ike slogan rings an Eisenhower period bell.

Looking older, no doubt, and slower (actually in 1957, he should have been younger) but quick enough to take on Soviet muscleman Dovechenko (Igor Jijikine) and more importantly luscious Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) who looks more Nazi than Russian but the action shifts from the American south-west to Peru where, along with a young adventurer Mutt Williams (Shia LeBouf), he sets upon yet another archaeological expedition.

There, of course, he encounters that mythological Crystal Skull and the mumbo-jumbo attached to it is as unbelievable as the assortment of creatures that director Steven Spielberg is able to bring out of his hat (no, Ford wears a fedora), at will. The special effects team of George Lucas (Industrial Lights and Magic) works overtime but Lucas, who wrote the story, continues to team with Spielberg but more credit to scriptwriter David Koep for some excellent one-liners.

If Last Crusade dwelt on the father-son relationship with Sean Connery, here you have Indiana catching up with old flame Marion (Karen Allen), whom we last saw in the first film Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is this liaison, studded with some choice lines, that is the best part of the film. They also have something more to talk about, her son Mutt, a dropout who is meant to give it a youthful dimension but is at best lukewarm. Or is clich`E9d, the word?

The gimmicks are there again, like riding a motorbike into a library or Indiana being dragged into a car (from his motorbike) from one window and exiting from another, then Irian reversing the Jones act of swapping a sword for a pistol and other such niceties that can be likened to the gags in the Bond films.

In Crystal Skull, one has to suffer through 70 per cent of pain to get 30 per cent pleasure but those emotionally involved with Indiana Jones will not mind it and that Spielberg and Co know perfectly well. John Williams music score is adequate and Janusz Kaminskiís camerawork pleasing, so Spielberg-Lucas fans wonít mind the martyrdom. But the younger generation wonít buy this ó its flogging a long dead archaeologist.