The last act of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a muddled mess. In fact, given the special effects pedigree of George Lucas and his ILM team, it’s a ridiculous position they put themselves in, as the main thing that drags the movie down is when the effects team is called in. Then, in a film where effects should surely be heavily downplayed, it all just goes very, very silly.
However, that same ending does throw up a thread that inevitably needs to be talked about. The revelation in the film that Indy and Marian had a child surely brought about a collective “uh-oh” from most of the long-time fans of the franchise, and when the penny then dropped extremely quickly indeed that Shia LaBeouf was said offspring, the levels of fear couldn’t help but heighten.
Now firstly, let’s be clear. Shia LaBeouf is a perfectly competent actor. He wasn’t called upon to do much more than run around and shout in Transformers, but he held Disturbia together well enough, and he seems a cut above the teen movie casts that have been thrown at the screen in the umpteen gross-out comedies of the last five or six years.
But he ain’t, by some distance, Indiana Jones. No sir.
And yet with an ending that sees him attempting to try the famous hat on for the first time, you suspect that’s just the way that George Lucas is heading (because it is he who controls the story elements of the Indy films).
In the 1980s, the original plan was for five Indiana Jones films, of which three eventually made it to the silver screen. The arrival of Crystal Skull, however, and the large chunks of cash it has brought in, has heightened speculation that a fifth movie is inevitably going to follow. And in that fifth movie, the main focus won’t be Harrison Ford’s ageing Indy, but rather his son.
This would not be a wise move. By all means, if Lucas is down to his last few hundred million, chuck Indy Jr out into an entirely different franchise altogether, but Indiana Jones on the big screen has always been about the antics of Harrison Ford, and rightly so. If there is to be a fifth film, then he needs to be the centre of it, and he needs a better supporting collection of characters than they spent 19 years trying to find with Crystal Skull.
It’s a fair bet that Indy 5 will move into production in the next couple of years, with fewer interviews from the makers talking about how long it takes them to find a good story, of course. But let’s make sure that it’s about, if necessary, concluding the story arc of Harrison Ford’s Indy, rather than getting sidetracked into setting up new ways to make more money. The man might not be the greatest actor of his generation, but when it comes to Indy, Harrison is undoubtedly your man.