After a 19-year sabbatical, the Doctor will see you now. Or, rather, you will see the doctor; after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade put Harrison Ford's fedora-wearing rogue academic into the pop culture pantheon of greats, expectations are at a fever pitch for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Today's Cannes press screening feels like a courtesy at best; no critic's negative review will keep people from seeing this film -- and yet, at the same time, no amount of enthusiasm or expectation or nostalgia can make up for the things that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull gets wrong in its strained effort to throw Indiana Jones back up on the big screen.
Crystal Skull begins in 1957, as the Cold War is getting warmer; we're plunged into the thick of things, with Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) dragooned into helping a group of Soviet interlopers ransack the secret storage depot at Area 51 for a lost artifact of great power. The Commie bad guys are lead by the raven-haired razor-banged Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), whose early declaration " ... three times have I received the Order of Lenin ..." tells you a lot of what you need to know about her, and also serves as about all you're going to get. Spalko's hunting for the storyline-starting MacGuffin; Dr. Jones gets away, but the Soviets get the thingamabob; the chase is on.