There are obvious film references in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” including the dead-on Marlon Brando entrance (from “The Wild One”) that Shia LeBeouf makes as the Fonzie-like Mutt Williams. Others may be just mind shadows caused by the monotony of sitting through the middle of the film, which itself -- now it can be told -- becomes an empty vision compared to at least the first two gems in the popular franchise.
Whatever anyone thinks of what still likely will become a legitimate blockbuster, though, let’s give director Steven Spielberg and producer running mate George Lucas the benefit of the doubt and assume they were actually trying to assemble the movie allusions that make tired ol’ Indy 4 more memorable than it probably should be.
To start the proceedings, there’s what seems like a hot-rod tribute to Lucas’s own 1973 classic, “American Graffiti,” which by the way featured a then-unknown Harrison Ford as an intrusive drag racer.
Meanwhile, Cate Blanchett’s take on Russian villainess Irina Spalko certainly rings reminiscent of a toned-down Lotte Lenya and Rosa Klebb, the nasty agent Lenya played in the second (and perhaps best) James Bond movie, 1963’s “From Russia With Love.”
There also appear to be ‘50s-inspired nods to “Blackboard Jungle,” ”The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Niagara” and “The Naked Jungle” (think scary red ants), to name just a very few.
The final escape scene even plays like the end launch to one of my favorite early effects films. That would be 1959’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” likely never to be confused with a new 3D version that New Line (now by way of Warner Bros.) releases July 11 with Brendan Fraser in the lead role.
Apparently old movies never die; they’re just remade with different actors, the way Ford apparently will be replaced by Spielberg-protégé LeBeouf if and when the next “Indiana” installment is greenlit.
Already, as wily old Dr. Jones himself would say, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
Cleveland Sun -- Intermission
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