Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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(2008) ★★★½

BBC1: Saturday 22 August, 6.20pm

Action man archaeologist Harrison Ford hands his battered hat to cocky young rebel Shia LaBeouf in Steven Spielberg’s rousing Atomic Age resurrection of the Indiana Jones adventure series. Mind you, Indy – addressed variously throughout the thrill-a-minute ride as doctor, professor, colonel, Henry Jones Jr, Mr J, Henry, Jonesy, old man, Daddy-o and even, on occasion, plain old Indy – is still doing everything the hard way. Fedora on head and whip in hand, he’s not quite yet over the hill. Whether finding the mummified remains of an alien inside the US Air Force’s Hangar 51 or tracking a mystical skull in Peru, he manages, just about, to stay out of the clutches of severe KGB officer Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett, amusingly done up as Lotte Lenya’s 007 nemesis Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love). There’s also a cherishable trio of Brits on show: Ray Winstone’s triple-crossing double agent, Jim Broadbent’s befuddled academic and dear old John Hurt, looking more than ever like an acient relic… a treasured one. Stomping all over the reputations of Roswell, Stalin, Ike Eisenhower and Erich von Daniken (the Chariots of the Gods hoaxer), David Koepp’s lively script heads for a Mayan graveyard showdown that’s a whole lot more fun than The Ruins and The Fountain (don’t even get me started on Apocalypto). Spruced up to the nines, Crystal Skull is still an old-fashioned caper at heart. It doesn’t try to fix what’s not broken. Despite the nay-sayers, it really was just like having a brand new episode in the series. The object of the exercise, surely.

Certificate: 12

Duration: 123min

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