Audiences have been waiting nearly 20 years for another dose of whip-crack antics from the franchise that inspired countless backyard childhood treasure hunts.
In most respects, the fourth Indy flick, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, " is worth the wait. Like the previous three, the film is fun and fast. Since "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," our hero's trademark fedora has been largely traded for tenure, with Indy (Harrison Ford) settled into a nice life as a respected archaeology professor.
But "Crystal Skull" starts with a frenzy as Indiana finds himself in the clutches of a band of Russian villains tasked with collecting heralded antiquities that possess mystical powers for use in a misguided psychic mind-control weapon.
Along the way, Indy solves archaeological puzzles and secrets, fights scary tribal warriors, and flees the Russians who are trying to use Indy to help them unlock the skull's secrets for their own devious uses.
Of course, the plot is incredulous, but the "Indiana Jones" series, like "Star Wars" or James Bond, has relied on a reality set within the film's world "? a disbelief that is fun, easy and rewarding to suspend.
The fedora still very much suits Ford, and his likable hero who takes more punches than he throws is still an engaging, charming character. The action scenes retain a humor and pomp, like a staged Western gunfight. Die-hard followers are likely to be a bit disappointed with the hard-to-believe climax. Still, "Crystal Skull" is a fun ride.