'Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull'
(Harrison Ford, Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, John Hurt, et al / NR / 91 mins / Paramount)
Overview: Harrison Ford returns as the iconic adventurer who picks up a new sidekick (Shia La Beouf) and an old flame (Karen Allen) for this ride.
Review: Though the film stars a relaxed and capable Harrison Ford as everyone's favorite intrepid archaeologist and boasts supporting players ranging from Cate Blanchett as a superb villainess to Shia LaBeouf as the inevitable youngster, the real heroes of this film are director Steven Spielberg and the veritable army of superb technicians who turn the film's numerous stunts and special effects into trains that insist on running on time.
Indeed, if Ford is a known Indy quantity, newcomer Blanchett is a great treat as Colonel Professor Irina Spalko, three-time winner of the Order of Lenin and "Stalin's fair-haired girl" despite a jet-black hairdo a la Louise Brooks.
The Colonel Professor and a crack team of Russians manage to force their way into a secret U.S. Army base in Nevada as the film begins. They bring the kidnapped Jones with them and force him at gunpoint to help them find some mummified remains from a plane crash that are stored in a giant government warehouse, the same one, incidentally, that was featured in the ending of Raiders.
And not to give anything away, but the film's final section with everyone hell-bent for the temple and the secret of that eggplant-shaped crystal skull, is one literal humdinger of a cinematic adventure all of its own! It offers lots of animal action (monkeys and hordes of red ants, primarily) as well as great stunts both CGI ("Look out for those falls!") and physical, as the Colonel Professor and Mutt draw swords and make like Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone in Captain Blood.