Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (12A)

Indiana Jones and the tangled plot: The updated version of the bullet-proof hero is back, looking a little weary but now resistant to nuclear attack

It has been 19 years since Harrison Ford starred in the third Indiana Jones film, and an incredible 27 years since he was first seen searching for legendary ancient relics in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

It would be unkind to imply that Ford is now an ancient relic himself, but the Indiana Jones franchise is almost legendary, which makes it quite a risk – critically if not commercially – for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to revive it now, especially considering that the last time Lucas brought back a revered film series after such a long sabbatical, it was with the woeful Star Wars prequels. Rest assured, the exhaustingly titled Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is nowhere near as dire as The Phantom Menace. It's just not as good as we all wanted it to be.

It's set in 1957. Indy is still a university lecturer, but now, instead of thumping Nazis on his days off, he thumps Commies. At the beginning of the film – which starts, as ever, at the tail end of a previous adventure – he and his trusty sidekick, Ray Winstone, have been captured by a team of Soviet spies led by Cate Blanchett, a sword-wielding Ukrainian psychic with a black bob and a grey jumpsuit. She demands that they help her locate a mysterious Mayan artefact, but, of course, Indy is only a whip-crack away from escape – at least until the next scene.

For the first 20 minutes or so of IJATKOTCS Spielberg gets everything right, keeping to the pulpy sensibility of Raiders while updating it with rock'n'roll, nuclear energy, red menace paranoia and alien invasion movies. But, true to the other Indiana Jones films, the opening roller-coaster ride is the best bit.

Ford is now 65, and neither the role nor his trousers fit quite as well as they did two decades ago. To bring down the average age, there's another sidekick, Shia LaBeouf, dressed as Marlon Brando in The Wild One. He asks for Indy's aid in rescuing two people who have been caught up in the Soviets' dastardly schemes. One is an old classmate of Indy's, played by a shaggy John Hurt, and the other is Karen Allen, the ballsy love interest from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The adventure that unfolds is spirited, fun and glowing with affection for the original films. It certainly beats Tomb Raider, National Treasure and all the other franchises that have stolen everything from Indiana Jones except the fedora. But it's busier and more confused than Raiders, with too many characters and too much exposition interrupting the excessively farcical action.

It might seem to be an odd criticism of a character we last saw chatting to the immortal guardian of the Holy Grail, but sometimes, frankly, Indy is just silly. Like Bruce Willis in last year's Die Hard 4.0, he hasn't weakened with age but grown superhumanly resilient. The audience is denied the thrill of trying to guess how he's going to cheat death, time after time, because he does so with all the ease of the Road Runner dodging Wile E Coyote. It's not that I mind Indy being bulletproof, or being able to tumble unscathed down a cliff and three successive waterfalls. The deal-breaker is when he walks away from a direct hit by an atom bomb. After that, it's awfully difficult to get excited about the danger of Blanchett swishing her sword at him.

Need to know

Following the runaway success of Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' and George Lucas's 'Star Wars', the two friends collaborated, as director and producer respectively, on 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', their all-action homage to James Bond, Tintin, and Saturday matinée adventure serials. When Tom Selleck couldn't fit shooting into his schedule, the globe-trotting archaeologist role went to Harrison Ford. The trio followed up 1981's 'Raiders' with 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' (1984), and 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' (1989).

Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence