Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Steven Spielberg
Catching up with old friends, you want to know what they’ve been up to, not marvel at how much they’ve changed. And so it’s with warm familiarity that Harrison Ford, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg return to the serial adventure story, and character, that has defined their careers, and we find Mr. Jones charming, albeit missing a quick step or two, and game for more swashbuckling archeological adventure.

The reunion comes with a few new surprises (an alien subplot that’s right in Spielberg’s wheelhouse), the return of some old surprises (welcome back, Raiders maiden Karen Allen, too bad we don’t have too much for you to do) and a sort-of reboot on a torch passing that might have occurred 20 years ago, when Last Crusade gave us our most recent glimpse of Indiana adventure.

Shia LaBeouf (motorcycle rebel Mutt Williams) gets a Marlon Brando-esque intro as he prepares for the fedora-and-whip handoff that seems all but inevitable now. Jones, in Ford’s sexagenarian body, somehow still fits the retro vibe the series has always maintained, even as greasers and communists replace Nazis — we’re not in Egypt anymore but the South American jungle has just as many snakes.

Propelled forward on good-hearted enthusiasm, Crystal Skull is quick enough to gloss over stupid gags (gopher jokes belong in Caddyshack) and plot points both absurd (alien conspiracy) and impossible (involving a lead-lined refrigerator). At this reunion, it’s easy to forgive a few wrinkles and slower steps just to revel in the fact that no one got major plastic surgery or turned into an irredeemable jerk.

If Indiana Jones seems a shade familiar, well, old friends would just seem creepy and weird otherwise. (Paramount)