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The 25 Most Exciting Movies Of 2008

The 25 Most Exciting Movies Of 2008: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones And The
Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull

Interview with Ray Winstone, Frank Marshall and David Koepp

Pedigree: Lucas, Spielberg, Ford, and the classiest cast and crew of 2008. Estimated budget: $125 million. Predicted box office: $400 million (US gross),$1 billion (worldwide).

"You go there, and you see the first camera move, and then you realise you're in an Indiana Jones film," says Ray Winstone about shooting Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. "It's a film I never thought I'd ever be making. And working with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, they're geniuses; these are clever men. You feel, What happened? How did I get from there to here?'"

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If you don't yet share Winstone's excitement about Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, then just peruse the images over the following four pages. If the sight of Harrison Ford in leather jacket, khaki kecks and battered fedora looking at some new danger he will reluctantly overcome doesn't fill your heart with joy, then you are officially banned from buying this magazine. Put it down. Leave now. We don't want you here. Fuck off to Homes & Gardens.

"What we've done is we've moved it from the '40s to the '50s so we're acknowledging that everyone is ten or 15 years older and it plays into the story," says producer Frank Marshall. "The best way to describe it is that it's an Indiana Jones movie. It's got all the style and elements of the old movie, and we're not really trying to do anything different."

That said, what's really mouthwatering about Crystal Skull is the push and pull between the familiar and the new. There will be globetrotting (reputedly Connecticut, Mexico City and the jungles of Peru). There will be John Williams' music (he started the score on October 1). And there will be the best action imaginable courtesy of Bourne stunt supremo Dan Bradley. But there are also suggestions that Crystal Skull will feature the most interesting character dynamics of the entire series, with Indy bonding (or not) with a young buck (a greased-up Shia LaBeouf), a rugged sidekick (Winstone) and a returning old flame, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Indy's sparkiest love interest, back to spar and smooch like it's 1981. "It was really quite moving when Karen filmed her first entry into the film," recalls Cate Blanchett, rumoured to be on villain duties. "Spielberg said, I feel so young!' It was fantastic."

Arguably, Steven Spielberg hasn't made a down-the-line, family-friendly summer blockbuster since 1993's Jurassic Park. From Saving Private Ryan to Minority Report to War Of The Worlds, Spielberg's big-budget outings post-Schindler's List have displayed varying degrees of complexity and bleakness (even dinofest The Lost World had trace elements of darkness), throwing up fascinating possibilities of how an older, wiser Spielberg might interpret an older, wiser Indy.

Similarly, whereas the look of Indiana Jones movies has traditionally been high-contrast throwbacks to the golden age of adventure movies, Spielberg's cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, has done his signature work lensing bleached-out, shadowy worlds (Catch Me If You Can being an exception), resulting in mouthwatering possibilities about what a Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull might look like through Kaminski's lens.

Also new to the Indy crew is screenwriter David Koepp. He has brought seriousness and smarts to blockbusters ranging from Jurassic Park to Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man, and we can expect him to do the same this time with Indy's face-off against Soviet agents, presumably headed by Russian actor Igor Jijikine. It's also reassuring that Koepp is a big-time Indy aficionado.

"The first one was basically the reason I became a screenwriter," says Koepp, talking exclusively to Empire on the set of his latest directorial effort, the supernatural drama Ghost Town. "Yes, I did feel the pressure, but then I had to put that out of my mind and do the best job I could. I know that some people are going to be disappointed. But all you can do is your best, and try to remember what you like to see as an audience member. Hopefully, if you keep that in mind, then your approach is uncynical and others will like it too."

Having such a Jones for Jones, has Koepp peppered the script with knowing nods and winks? "A little, obeying the characters as they're laid out. But inside series jokes? I don't like that kind of stuff. Any self-referential stuff we tried to avoid. I don't think people remember everything that was said 25 years ago, so referring to something you said 25 years ago seems kind of stupid to me. So, no, not a lot of that. But, you know, sometimes for fun."

It has been suggested by internet script scavengers that Koepp's script cleaves close to previous drafts, even insinuating that the screenplay steals liberally from the Frank Darabont iteration. Yet, what the web dunderheads fail to realise is that all the scripts are based on Lucas' original story, so they're bound to share similarities.

"I read everything that came before and certainly there was a lot inspired by that," concurs Koepp. "There are some jobs, like Ghost Town, where it's all your universe, and there are other jobs where you come in and someone needs kitchen cabinets built and you ask them where they want them and then you build the best cabinets you can."

One particular piece of furniture that has been added since the last time we updated you on Indy IV is that the movie isn't called Indy IV anymore. Back in August, Lucasfilm registered the following six titles with the MPAA:

  • Indiana Jones And The City Of Gods
  • Indiana Jones And The Destroyer Of Worlds
  • Indiana Jones And The Fourth Corner Of The Earth
  • Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
  • Indiana Jones And The Lost City Of Gold
  • Indiana Jones And The Quest For The Covenant
  • When Shia LaBeouf finally announced Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull at the MTV Video Music Awards, it upturned months of firmly held internet belief that the title was City Of Gods, something Lucasfilm included on its title list just to stoke the fan flames. As ever with Lucas-related titles, the choice has proven divisive on various forums and fan sites (can you imagine what carnage would have followed Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom if the internet had been around in 1984?), but seems to suggest a world of potential.

    For those of you who are either archaeologically challenged/have no memory of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World/can't be arsed to look it up on Wikipedia (delete where applicable), The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, in true Indy tradition, will strike the perfect balance between archaeological fact and the possibility for fictional embellishment. With its creation and discovery shrouded in mystery, a crystal skull, made from clear quartz, was found under a collapsed altar inside an ancient temple in Lubaantun in Belize. Locals informed archaeologist Anna Le Guillon Mitchell-Hedges that the skull was used by a high priest to bring on death. Surrounded by rumours that it also brings bad luck to all who handle it, The Skull Of Doom (as it's so cheerily known) has been an Indy MacGuffin before in four Max McCoy novels and at the Tokyo Disney theme park but no-one involved is in any doubt that the spooky artefact is now getting the showcase it deserves.

    "If it all works to plan, which I'm sure it will, it will have that mix," says Winstone. "It starts off with a gallop, and then just gets quicker and quicker and quicker. It's one hell of a story, actually."

    More
    For an exclusive interview with Indy producer Frank Marshall and brand new pictures from the fourth Indiana Jones movie, pick up the new issue of Empire, on sale now.

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    The 25 Most Exciting Movies Of 2008
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