The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Starring Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett and Karen Allen. Directed by Stephen Spielberg.
Running Time: 122 mins.
Rated: Rated M (frequent action violence).
Premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival on May 18th. this year, and affectionately known as "Indy IV', this is the most recent of the Indiana Jones series and it returns Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry "Indiana' Jones Jr. to front-line action. Now wiser and considerably older, Jones works against agents of the Soviet Union for a crystal skull, which holds controlling powers. Whoever returns the skull to the temple of the City of Gold will become master (or mistress) of its powers. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) wants those powers for her nefarious purposes so as to give her total mind control in the Cold War; and Jones enters into the fray to stop her. The film maintains something of the old traditional feel of the earlier movies, the last of which was made 19 years ago. Stunt-work, for example, is done live; and there are frequent humourous references to Indiana's age. The style of this and the previous films remains relatively intact and this is largely to the credit of the film's Director, Stephen Spielberg.

The question in everybody's mind is whether Harrison Ford can hold his adventurous appeal. The Sunday Times has described him as the world's most indestructible archaeologist. Now, 65 years of age, he maintains his well-known charisma and enigmatic flair and his romantic attachment (with Karen Allen) works both wittily and charmingly, but the film as a whole has a flavour of nostalgia about it rather than total freshness. Considering the extraordinary marketing pull of George Lucas, one suspects it would not be easy for Paramount to recover the film's total investment of $419m were it not for the iconic Harrison Ford returning to this role. However, this particular film honours the icon rather than extends it. The movie starts slowly and a little disappointingly and there are some routine chase sequences that look staged and a little tired, but as the film moves on and the visual effects take over the movie shines in its adventure glory with the help of vast numbers of visual effects and digital artists doing their very best to wholly entertain, which they do.

There is some notable new talent around, especially in the character of Mutt William (Shia LaBeouf) who wants Dr. Jones to help him return the Crystal Skull to the City of Gold. He is the person responsible for luring Indiana back into action and the stage seems set for seeing much more of LaBeouf in the future. There are some marvellous scenes in the movie that help to maintain fast-paced, adventurous and fantasy-filled action that one comes to expect of any Indiana Jones movie and the pace of this one, particularly in its second half, doesn't disappoint. Spielberg clearly respects the genre he is creating, and characteristically goes "over the top' in all the ways he can. Particularly memorable are the frightening carnivorous bugs and the scenes at the end in the City of Gold. In the final scenes, the genre is taken over almost entirely by the special effects. We are suddenly in "Close Encounters,' "War of the Worlds' and "Star Wars' territory, where being human becomes redundant; and in competition with them, Harrison Ford can offer us only a token presence.

This movie should appeal enormously to fans of Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones, but this is a film where one tends to look rather longingly back for the warm cult hero we know was there. Despite the movie's inevitable success, one can't help wondering what's next - an "Indy V', or maybe LaBeouf taking on his father's mantle?

Peter W. Sheehan, Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.


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