Nostalgia for previous Indiana Jones productions guaranteed that the fourth film in this series would be a box-office success. Starring an aging Harrison Ford, the two-hour, action-packed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull starts in Nevada, visits a mythical U.S. university, takes the viewers to Peru, and winds up back at the university where “Indy” is a professor of anthropology. Filled with an almost never-ending string of improbable escapes from capture and death, the Spielberg-Lucas production doesn’t disappoint lovers of adventure fantasies. However, its portrayal of Soviet forces as brutal savages in a major Hollywood action flick is unique.
If you’re like most alive today, you grew up with Paul R. Ehrlich’s Malthusian idea of a “population bomb.” It just seems like common sense that man will increase his numbers inexorably until, one day, we find ourselves living a real-life Soylent Green scenario, sans drama and Charlton Heston to sound that indelible alarm about the real source of a futuristic, overpopulated world’s food supply, “Soylent Green is people!”
Epic fantasy is the one genre of storytelling that Hollywood has never been able to master. Before Lord of the Rings, there was a scant handful — Willow, The Princess Bride, and Ladyhawke nearly exhaust the list for the last three decades — of live-action fantasy films that even attained cinematic mediocrity. Of these, only The Princess Bride, with its quirky one-liners and odd commingling of the modern and medieval, achieved something approaching cult appeal. Until very recently, fantasy was perceived to be box-office poison (“Never act with children or dragons” goes the adage), and filmmakers stayed away from tried-and-true literary classics like the works of Tolkien and Lewis.