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Welcome back, Indy!

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Well, what did you expect? Something brand new or different from the Indiana Jones franchise that we all grew up with? No such turn of events, my friends, and what we have in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” is, happily, a stroll through an old, familiar, and much-loved museum.

Of course there are “new” tweaks, but they are more in the way of minor things that those of us who revere and re-watch the previous three entries can discover and delight upon in quiet ways.

The story? Bah, who cares! You can be sure it’s chock-a-block with the usual Spielbergian Romanticism, with a nod to Gosh-I-Only-Wish archaeology, so instead of plodding through the twists and turns of a film that everyone on earth is required to see, here are the random thoughts I had whilst happily sitting there in the dark and thinking, “Welcome home, Indy!”

In the very early scenes, I was just a smidge unsettled. Harrison Ford, who is far from the latest-model hero to hit the road, actually looked a bit wizen. But I got used to him rapidly, as soon as that legion of stuntpeople began demonstrating his athletic ability.

It was good, really good, to see Karen Allen back. I’ve missed her terribly ever since the dawning of the Age of Indiana Jones.

As expected, the film is just one long chase. And I hate chase scenes, especially over-long ones like in those awful “Matrix” movies, and the more recent “Die Hard” Bruce Willis entries. But a chase concocted by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is a horse of a different color.

Welcome, welcome, welcome also to John Hurt, a marvelous actor who fit in perfectly.

Ahh, now let’s talk about the Wonder Tweaks – the clever twists added to the chase. First the motorcycle chase, ending in the library. And the pause at the quicksand (or slowsand, as it turned out) pit. Then the extended swordfight atop vehicles speeding through the jungle. And instead of rats or snakes – ants! Calloo, callay, oh joyous Spielbergian day!

OK, I’ll fess up. Much as I’ve tried to hide it, I really enjoyed this, the final installment, in the Indiana Jones franchise. I know you’ll see it. It’s required by law.

There were, of course a couple of things I didn’t really care for. One was Shia LaBeouf, playing basically Indy’s sidekick. If there were to be more Indy films, he’s the heir apparent. But it’s apparent to me that he’s nothing too special, just another young male actor. I was underwhelmed by his performance.

Also kind if disappointing was Cate Blanchett as the Lousy Rotten Commie Spy Villain Lady. Way over the top – it was probably meant to be, but the character left me cold.

So let’s close with something I’ve been waiting to do for a long time: a list of Spielberg’s films, in order of greatness. He had a hand in each of these fabulous films, as director, writer, producer, executive producer and (as in “Jaws”) he sometimes played the clarinet in the orchestra recording the film score. Steven Spielberg, I realized, turned out half of my favorite 10 movies. I’m astonished. Here they are, my Top Ten Steven Epics:

1. Jaws (1975)

2. Jurassic Park (1993)

3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

5. Band of Brothers (2001)

6. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

7. Duel (1971)

8. Schindler’s List (1993)

9. The Sugarland Express (1974)

10. E.T. (1982)

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.