My on-again, off-again mind-meld with Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com seems to be back on again, with her review of Indiana Jones 4. The part she describes best is the first scene where (possible spoiler?) Indy runs into Marion:
When he sees her, his face shows what can only be described as pure delight, and it’s little wonder: Allen, an actress of a certain age who isn’t afraid to look like a real person, is radiant here. Her performance is like joy let out of a box.
That’s a perfect description, and is one thing I missed mentioning earlier: Karen Allen may just be the best part of the new movie. Like any of the characters, she doesn’t really get to do much. But whenever she’s on screen, you really get the sense that she’s just happy to be back with the gang, making another Indy movie after all these years. One of the best moments, because it’s one of the only ones that feels genuine, is when Indy first sees her, and he gets a goofy grin on his face that almost feels like he’s breaking character.
Steven Spielberg’s movies tend to be full of emotional moments that always feel more staged than genuine. This one feels like it slipped through the impenetrable wall of artifice and accidentally let some genuine happiness come through. It’s a reminder that none of the people involved in this movie need to prove anything, or need to re-establish a franchise, and they definitely don’t need any more money. They made this one just to have fun with it. And that’s what renders any criticisms from over-entitled “fans” moot, because that’s the spirit that comes through overall: it feels like they had fun making this movie, and they just made it for the hell of it.
Zacharek is still totally wrong about the Coen brothers and Wes Anderson, though.