Two words: Prairie dogs. Toooooo cute~!
Crystal Skull. Yes, I liked it. I liked it a lot. But..... I didn't LOVE it. At least, not "love" in the same sense that I did with Last Crusade, but certainly "like" on the same level as Raiders. (And, it edges out Temple by a good measure.)
I give credit to Crystal Skull for providing a nice, long journey; even if it's reportedly shorter in time length than The Last Crusade (if just by a few minutes), the film feels like it covers a LOT more ground. The blending of classic Indy "mysto-crypto" historical exposition and well-staged action sequences is punctuated by a far greater number of interesting location shots and scenery.
To speak of Indy himself, I think Ford was fantastic all around. Old man pants or no (a distinction I barely noticed - really Jay, were you staring that hard? o_O), he looked pretty damned good for 65. He certainly got the overall look and physicality of the character down. Karen Allen, on the other hand, looked a little more wear for tear. I do think they could've done more with Marion in terms of her character, and I don't feel that the resolution between she and Indy was as fulfilling as the story dictated. Still, she provided a welcome foil to Indy that, while nowhere near as strong as that in Raiders, is still familiar and fun to watch. I don't think I'll ever be able to fully dissociate LeBeouf from his Stanley Yelnats role, so I found the tough-guy mentality of Mutt hard to swallow. He was pretty good otherwise; the disparity and jokes between age and youth didn't come off as excessive as I thought it might have been, thankfully, and he had a good presence in the action bits.
Blanchett's Spalko turned out to be a lot tamer than I first imagined. Even as a villain, there was no immediate urge for her to have Jones disposed of, and there's actually a fun moment where...... we're watching him get all passionate and so swept up in cracking the riddle with her that he sort of forgets he's helping the enemy. He was "giddy as a school boy," if you will. :) That said, the head villain of the Indy movies was always more passive than his second-in-command (in Raiders and Last Crusade at least), and I guess Colonel Dovchenko this time fits the bill of brute adversary. Irina, however, does get in on quite a bit of the action, particularly during the impressive jungle chase sequence. Hurt as the demented Oxlay was fascinating, but the character that didn't work for me at all was Ray Winstone's Mac. Winstone played it to the best of capacity, but the character felt completely unnecessary in the grander scheme of the plot, and proved to be a complete throwaway by the end.
The story itself..... I'm going to say that, yes, there are more leaps of logic and belief suspending than what is normally expected. The paranormal angle works if you consider the validity of Soviets and their psychic programs at the time. The rest can better be accepted once you get past the X-Files set-in-the-50s sci-fi vibe you might initially feel. As for the CG, yes, there are some spots of obvious usage for the more pertinent effects, but on the whole, the movie is still rooted in good old fashioned hands-on stunts and real life sets that it's hard to pinpoint where the argument is coming from that it's used excessively. The reenactment of the 50s makes for a great looking period piece, especially the Marshall College campus and the socialite bar. (While we're talking about the film's look, allow me to address my digital cinema experience. Despite Spielberg's protest, I thought the picture looked spectacular - however, I understand where he's coming from as far as wanting to preserve the original artistic vision of the movie. I peeked in at the beginning of another showing on a regular projector, and the look of the desert instantly brought to mind the original look of the 35mm-shot Last Crusade.)
The music is all perfectly Williams, with the Raiders March and Irina's Theme being the key highlights for me. The theme of the Crystal Skull leaves a more memorable mark in context, as its creepy, near-otherworldly overtones are all the more apt once you discover what it's about. Taking another listen at the CD soundtrack release, you get the sense that the CD follows a more concert suite-based structure; there are cues borrowed and used from all the tracks, but many of them aren't so prominently 'whole' in the film presentation. (To that end, the CD tracklisting isn't completely in chronological order either.) Also, imagine my delight when I heard The Last Crusade's Holy Grail/Jones Sr. motif at an appropriate key spot in the film - and my equal chagrin when it played yet again at a totally INAPPROPRIATE moment.
So, final verdict? Like the rest of you, I'd say it's not the be-all comeback sequel that many wanted it to be. But it's a film that's worthy of belonging to the Indy series, and quite an enjoyable one at that. I might go ahead and see it again, only because the story and exposition bits have nuances that I feel are worth watching again. (Yes, despite the awesome action stuff, the exposition moments are what I enjoy the most in any Indy film - and in this case, longer is better. Do you dig, Daddy-O?)