Indiana Jones is getting careless in his old age. He plunges his arm into crevices, yanks at random levers and strides across chambers which in the Lost Ark he would have first investigated carefully for booby traps. At the same time his instincts are as strong as ever ("I have a bad feeling about this") and his ophidiophobia continues unabated. But perhaps he can afford to be careless, since it's clearly the end for Dr Henry Jones II: he's been exposed to a serious amount of radiation, fridge or no fridge, and, as a friend cynically observed, he is now married.
It's a shame really – he's given a tremendous amount of pleasure over the years, especially in the two movies that saw him go in search of Judæo-Christian artefacts. Perhaps this is mere coincidence, but Temple of Doom (mystical stones and "Hindu" sacrifices) and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (magnetic crystal and alien-inspired religion) are by comparison tricked-up and a bit silly, and as pure adventures the least rewarding of the four movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark and Last Crusade had their share of supernatural (divine) phenomena – including the awful consequences of looking on the face of God – but to watch the conclusion of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and see a shiny inter-spatial vessel arise from "El Dorado" and disappear into the sunset was simply unsatisfying. Worse, you could see this pseudo-scientific Gainax Ending coming the minute we were told early on about natives binding children's heads to give them elongated skulls – just like their gods. In the end I was left feeling as if this last Indiana Jones movie had turned out as a cross between The Mummy and Tommyknockers. If I were Indy I'd say, "Aliens. Why'd it have to be aliens?"
The archeology has always been a bit slapdash, not that this has necessarily bothered the archeologists, who have a healthy grasp on fiction and reality. All the same, the carelessness is clearly emerging on that front too. Would Lost-Ark Indy really have hacked into burial wrappings like that?
Still, I shouldn't whinge: it was fun, it had its thrilling moments, the baddies got their just deserts, Cate was in it, there was fencing, and at its most implausible it was still deliciously tongue-in-cheek. Finally, as Matthew of Soho the Dog has pointed out in more detail, there is – as with Mozart – great delight to be had simply from observing the supreme craft with which the formula is realised.