Indiana Jones survives most perilous quest at Cannes
World premiere of the fourth instalment in the adventure series on Sunday wins friendly round of applause.19 May 2008
CANNES - Indiana Jones survived his first perilous outing in the Kingdom of Critical Knives on Sunday, winning a friendly round of applause at a press preview at Cannes and respectable reviews.
The world premiere of the fourth and latest instalment in the adventure series, and the first in 19 years - "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" - is the hottest ticket at this year's Cannes film festival.
A packed crowd of hundreds, many wearing Indiana Jones hats, waved and cheered as Harrison Ford, 65, and co-star Cate Blanchett, who plays the villain, walked Cannes' famed red carpet for the official world premiere.
Set in the late 1950s of the Cold War era, the two-hour movie sees its swashbuckling archaeologist hero racing against Soviet agents to recover a mysterious pre-Colombian skull in the wilds of Peru.
The plot had been kept strictly under wraps and promotional stunts kept to a minimum as Hollywood heavy-hitters Steven Spielberg and George Lucas awaited the response to what is arguably this year's most-anticipated movie.
"Smart, Sleek, Familiar," ran the headline of an early review in Time magazine's online edition, which offered an approving appraisal of the film's veteran lead.
"Ford looks just fine, his chest skin tanned to a rich Corinthian leather; he's still lithe on his feet, and can deliver a wisecrack as sharp as a whipcrack," it said.
The Los Angeles Times said fears that the latest outing would prove an embarrassingly geriatric addition to the Indiana Jones franchise had proved unfounded.
"It turns out it's one of the good ones, and everyone involved can breathe a sigh of relief," the Times said, while People magazine concluded: "The magic is still there".
London's Telegraph critic David Gritten was less enthusiastic, however. "It's not that (it) is bad, exactly. But it's undeniably creaky," he said.
"He doesn't wear the fedora with quite the same jaunty angle, his bullwhip doesn't crack as smartly - and Harrison Ford looks all of his 65 years."
Ford insisted on doing his own stunts, saying audiences could tell the difference between an actor and a stunt double.
"It needs to be an emotional event, like every moment on screen needs to be invested with real emotion, or pretend emotion," he told reporters.
That's why it's so gratifying that we were all happy to do the stunt sequences or the action sequences old-school. Human scale."
Spielberg credited Ford with reviving the Indiana Jones juggernaut when the actor told him in 1994, after he presented the director with an Oscar for "Schindler's List", that he would be willing "to put the fedora back on".
The director called Ford his "secret weapon" in making the movies.
"He's concerned about the whole, he's concerned about the story and other characters and he is a collaborator in the entire process of telling the story," Spielberg, 61, said.
"That takes a lot of pressure and weight off my back to have this kind of a partner in the trenches every single day shooting the picture."
Ford said he was less concerned with what the critics said than with the opinions of movie-goers round the world.
"This kind of film, it is such a celebration of the movies," he said.
"I know that we made this movie to reacquaint people with the pure joy that can happen in a dark room with a bunch of other people seeing something that they haven't seen before that will just kick your butt."
The first three episodes in the Spielberg-Lucas saga grossed USD 1.2 billion between 1981 and 1989.
This fourth adventure begins in 1957 as professor Jones returns to his US college to find he is under suspicion from the anti-Communist administration and is about to be fired.
On his way out of town he meets young Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), a bike-riding knife-flicking James Dean lookalike, who takes him off on a mission to find the Crystal Skull of Akator and to rescue his mother.
Continuing on the sentimental tack of the last episode, where Jones' father (Sean Connery) surfaced, Mutt's mother turns out to be Indy's first love from the maiden 1981 "Lost Ark" movie, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen).
And Mutt, of course, is his son.
Hot on their heels is icy-cold but devastatingly beautiful Soviet agent Blanchett, who is also after the eerie skull which she says Stalin always dreamt of finding to wage "psychic warfare".
Action-packed with car-chases, waterfall rides, man-eating ants and the usual secret underground temples, the film is chock-a-block with throw-away lines and droll quips.
Its "third dimension" style finale features a Spielberg-fathered ET character surfacing in a Mayan temple - an ending some critics said tested the audiences' patience.
[AFP / Expatica]