"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" *** 1/2 (out of four)
Clearly, "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was never going to be another "Raiders of the Lost Ark."
That was a one-time phenomenon in which all the elements came together perfectly to create the ultimate adventure film - a feat that has not been equaled since, and will probably never be surpassed. It's also no "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," which some viewers loathed for its darker, "nasty" tone but I adored for its boldness and rapid-fire action. This one is more on par with "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," which had its share of pacing issues but nevertheless earned the right to stand tall beside its predecessors.
"Iron Man" ****
Despite its straight-forward nature and lack of daring, "Iron Man" delivers on a level that not even the most fervent and blindly optimistic comic book geek could have anticipated. Favreau may lack the ingenuity of directors like Sam Raimi (the "Spider-Man" trilogy) and especially Christopher Nolan ("Batman Begins"), but what he lack in originality he more than makes up for in old-fashioned storytelling savvy. His "Iron Man" is lean and proficient, and hits all the right notes in bringing this long-awaited project to the big screen.
"Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay" * 1/2
We have "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay," which isn't so much a sequel as it is a half-hearted rehash of "White Castle." It offers little of its predecessor's (relative) intelligence, and absolutely none of its originality. Indiscriminate "Harold and Kumar" fans will probably enjoy it, but most viewers will likely be bored of the same old shtick.
Movies are reviewed by News-Sentinel movie reviewer Jason Wallis every Saturday.