For months, the naysayers have been a rowdy chorus. They’ve insisted that Harrison Ford is too old. That George Lucas has lost his story sense. And that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, resurrecting a movie franchise that’s been inactive since 1989’s Last Crusade, will misfire when it’s released May 22. But on Feb. 14, the crack of a bullwhip drowned out any carping. In a trailer that debuted on TV and the Web, exec producer Lucas and director Steven Spielberg served up a dazzling tease, prompting an outpouring of largely upbeat reaction online. Here’s why it looks so promising (and bail out now if you’re a spoilerphobe).
The vibe feels right
Unlike the brutal Temple of Doom and the jokey Last Crusade, Crystal Skull looks like it’ll play closer to the series’ beguiling first installment, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pointed homages — a chase in what looks like the same artifact warehouse we saw in Raiders, Indy throwing two soldiers out of a truck’s cab, the return of old squeeze Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen, glimpsed briefly) — feel pleasantly allusional without being overtly self-conscious. The story’s set in 1957, but Indy still seems like his ’30s-adventure-serial self.
Ford looks terrific
Indy is supposed to be two decades beyond his maximum-freshness date here, and Ford, face broader, eyes narrower, gets the world-weariness just right.
Cate Blanchett can work a wig
Indy has stared down rodents, bugs, snakes, evil men, and treacherous women, but never a full-blown villainess. The sight of Blanchett as Russian operative Irina Spalko, pouting insolently as she barks commands and flips her jet-black Cleopatra bangs, portends a very sexy smackdown.
Spielberg’s in mystical-alien territory again
One shot shows a container labeled ”Roswell, New Mexico 1947,” the year and location of an alleged major UFO sighting. Whatever’s inside has enough magnetic pull to yank a pair of spectacles through the air. Will it lead to a close encounter? We’ll bite — but we’ll balk if Harrison Ford goes all Richard Dreyfuss and ascends in a ship.
Better booby traps
Some fans think the South American temple on display in the trailer looks too CG-ish, but there’s a wealth of film craft in the few fleeting images here — floors that collapse into quicksand, circular stone stairs that retract into walls, and menacing warriors stalking dim corridors. With a closing blast of John Williams’ fanfare — still magically potent — Crystal Skull leaps to the top of the summer-movie must-see pile.