From humdrum start to shrugging finish, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's Crystal Skull bears almost no resemblance to its predecessors: It's absent the spark of Raiders of the Lost Ark, the grown-up menace and slapdash comedy of Temple of Doom, and the loose-limbed effervescence of Last Crusade. Much has been made of the decision to push the franchise into the late 1950s—away from the Nazis and biblical collectors' items and toward the Russians and ETs. Early word suggested a film verging on summer camp, as creaky ol' Indy (Harrison Ford) donned fedora and whip and Cate Blanchett slipped into dominatrix bob-cut for an outer-space trip flavored with the era's grade-Z conventions. But Crystal Skull is no fun at all: The dialogue's drab when not absolutely dumb; the actors seem lost if not outright listless; the scant action sequences appear to have been filmed entirely in front of green screens. (Is anyone sure that producer Lucas didn't actually direct?) And the storyline's a bunch of convoluted mumbo and pointless jumbo having to do with Russians and mind control and the mythical golden South American city of El Dorado, which may have been constructed by "visitors" who taught the locals how to, um, farm. Twenty years between offerings, and this is all the A-team could come up with?
Yes, the Indy hat still fits.
Opens at Cinerama and other theaters, Thurs., May 22. Rated PG-13. 122 minutes.