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DVD Zone: November 2008 – Indy Rocks!

| October 31, 2008 | 0 Comments

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull


When you’re dealing with one of the most successful franchises in film history, it’s awfully hard to resist the lure of “just one more.” Producer George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg, and Indy himself Harrison Ford all gave in to temptation and dug out the whip and fedora for one more go ’round with Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

While it is better than Temple Of Doom, it doesn’t come close to the thrills and spirit of the original Raiders Of The Lost Ark or the cheeky fun of The Last Crusade. Instead, Skull takes a turn into X-Files territory with a convoluted plot involving ancient alien visitors and civilizations.

Set in 1957, the Russkies have replaced the Nazis as the chief villains. A brief plot line that has Indy suspected of being a red sympathizer is soon abandoned — a shame, as it would have amped up the suspense a bit. As it is, the film takes the standard race to find the artifact that will give its possessor ultimate power track.

Not along for the ride this time is Sean Connery as Indy’s father — there’s only a passing mention of his death the previous year. Returning, however, is Karen Allen reprising her Ark role of Indy’s love interest Marion. And hey, guess what? They have a kid! In an attempt to set up the franchise for future films (and in full Marlon Brando drag), Shia LaBeouf plays Mutt, the son Indy never knew he had.

Of course, there has to be a main villain, and Skull gives us Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko, a Russian super agent. Half the fun of Skull is watching Blanchett gamely trying to hold onto her Russian accent for as long as she can before slipping back into her British brogue. In fact, the way she channels her inner Natasha Fatale, you keep expecting her to tell the henchmen to go after Moose and Squirrel.

In the end, Skull doesn’t damage the Indy legend, it just doesn’t add anything to it.

The highlights of the two-disc Special Edition are a 12-part behind-the-scenes segment, as well as a look back at the previous Indy adventures.

Film: **1/2 Features: ***

The Who At Kilburn 1977
Image Entertainment

When director Jeff Stein was working on The Kids Are Alright, his documentary chronicling all things Who, he realized he didn’t have a decent live version of “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Unacceptable. His solution — set up a couple of gigs before an intimate audience and let the cameras roll.

The Who At Kilburn is the first of the two shows to see the light of day in its complete form; only brief snippets of this particular show made it into the film.

The shows were also noteworthy for the bittersweet fact they were Keith Moon’s last two live performances with the band — he would die a mere nine months later.

Judging from some of the performances at Kilburn, it’s amazing so little of this set made the Kids cut. Kilburn’s run-through of “Baba O’Reilly” is far superior to the version used in the film, while “Summertime Blues” and “Shakin’ All Over” show The Who could still bring it just like they did in their early-’70s heyday.

Granted, they ain’t all gems. Kilburn’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is lackluster at best, and an early stab at “Who Are You” is downright embarrassing. Still, the hits far outweigh the misses.

The second disc in the set is billed as the Special Features, but it is in fact the complete 1969 London Coliseum show.

Shot with four 16mm cameras, my suspicion is the quality wasn’t good enough to justify releasing it as a stand-alone DVD. Thus, we reap the benefits by getting two for the price of one. Even though the film quality isn’t particularly up to snuff, the versions of “Young Man Blues” and “A Quick One While He’s Away” more than make up for it.

The remastered 5.1 sound on both discs is nothing to write home about, yet if sound quality means less than seeing The Who at the top of their game, Kilburn doesn’t disappoint.

Film: ***1/2 Features: ****

Timothy Hiatt

Category: Columns, Monthly

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