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Book Review

Book Cover

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Movie Novelisation


Author: James Rollins (Based on the story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson
Ebury Press
RRP: £6.99, US $13.99
ISBN: 978 0 09 192667 0
Available 22 May 2008

It's 1957, the Cold War is hotting up and intrepid adventurer Indiana Jones is once again doing what he does best - getting himself into trouble. When Indy's latest expedition is hijacked by a ruthless squad of Russian soldiers, he is forced to accompany them as they invade American soil and plunder a top-secret government warehouse. Their objective: a relic even more precious - and powerful - than the mythic Ark, capable of unlocking secrets beyond human comprehension...

Tarred as a suspected spy and fired by his university, Indy thinks it may be time to hang up his hat. But when a colleague's kidnapping leads Jones into the depths of the Amazon jungle on a desperate rescue mission, he finds himself playing for a prize all the wonders of the world could never rival.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the long awaited fourth movie in the Indiana Jones series. It's been almost 20 years since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was released in cinemas and to be honest I had my serious reservations about whether, after such a long wait, any story would match the expectations of those that grew up on the franchise.

In short the answer, for me, was no it didn't come close to capturing the magic of the original movies. While the film has its moments, overall it felt too much like an amalgamation of the previous movies without bringing anything new to the table.

Written by New York Times best selling author James Rollins, this novelisation of the movie will no doubt flesh out the movie a little more for those who enjoyed it. Set in 1957, the film centres around mysterious crystal skulls, and pits Indiana Jones against agents of the Soviet Union. To be fair, Rollins does the best he can with the material available. I have to admit that I did get sucked into the book, but the finished product - through not fault of the author - just seemed to be such a disappointment.

When people in other professions get old and start to lose their focus it's time for them to retire. With that in mind, maybe Spielberg and Lucas should do just that. While I loved Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET, and the original Indiana Jones movies growing up as a kid, Spielberg was fairly young and had something to say back in the '80s. Now, however, he seems to be pretty much out of touch with the industry. Watching Crystal Skull is a bit like seeing your dad dance at a party. He knows the moves but he's about 20 years out of date.

Even John Williams's score isn't up to the challenge. The majority of it is too bland and he reuses a little too much of his score from the previous movies. While this is understandable when a scene is referencing the earlier films, he includes a segment of the end titles from Temple of Doom in the end credits here, which feels out of place. Now, I know this has nothing to do with the book, but I just wanted to get it off my chest.

But before I get back to the book... one other point. Spielberg... aliens... get over it!

With all the early speculation about whether Sean Connery was or wasn't going to make an appearance, the finished movie seems to have a character that could, in the early versions of the script, have been Henry Jones. I'd hazard an educated guess that the character of Oxley was originally supposed to be Indy's dad.

At the end of the day Crystal Skull just feels too similar to past movies. This film does nothing new at all. Even the title sounds like something a young child would dream up for his own Indiana Jones home video adventure. And the conclusion... I doubt this is really going to come as a surprise, but it's the same damn ending that Lucas/Spielberg have used twice before in this trilogy. Villain is on a desperate hunt for powerful artefact... Jones find artefact just before villain... villain takes artefact from Jones and hopes to reap the rewards... for a brief moment villain gets what they want... but it all goes pair-shaped when they realise that the prize is... death.

James Rollins does an admirable job of turning a rather too familiar story into a readable affair. But at the end of the day, whether you enjoy this book will depend very much upon what you thought of the movie.


Darren Rea

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