Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: Peruvian Flan

Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeoulf, Cate Blanchett Ray Winstone, John Hurt
(PG-13, 123 min.)

"We are not now that strength which in old days/ Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are." Alfred Lord Tennyson

His morning stubble is a bit grizzled, but the part time professor can still wield a mighty mean bullwhip and pack a punch when he needs to. And yeah, he’s still terrified of snakes and always coming upon them, as well as pesky dart blowing natives, mega red army ants, creepy corpse ridden catacombs, and some rather nasty foreign agents.

Break out the popcorn and strap yourself in for the ride. It’s gonna be a rough one. One that requires a generous suspension of disbelief, too. Old Indie rides out an atomic bomb blast in a fifties fridge, careens over not one but three treacherous waterfalls, works his way out of South American quicksand, and faces down the Ruskies, the CIA, FBI, and a jilted at the altar Marion to boot.

Some twenty-seven years ago fans as well as the peripatetic professor fell head over heels for Marion (Karen Allen), the drink you under the table, greet you with a knuckle sandwich kind of gal we nonetheless couldn’t resist. Others tried to vamp into her shoes in the other Indie adventures of the 80’s, but our hearts belonged to Marion, and at least some of the draw of this film is the promise of seeing her sunshine smile once again. 

It’s the fifties now – nineteen years in the cinema calendar standing in for the real life twenty-seven, and although Indie and Marion look as though they’ve been around the block a few times, the magic between them is still there, even if it is demonstrated in decibels rather than endearments. And then there’s Mutt (Shia LaBeoulf), Marion’s nineteen-year-old son who rides around on a souped up chrome motorbike doing a pretty good imitation of Marlon Brando’s The Wild One. He also fills the bill when it comes to losing the bad guys, as he careens across campus and even through the library, where Indie pauses long enough to tell a bookish young scholar, “If you want to be a good archaeologist, you need to get out of the library,” just before screeching out of there himself on the back of Mutt's bike.

It’s not the Nazis, this time, but the Soviets, with the incredible Cate Blanchett who last mesmerized us as a young Bob Dylan in I’m Not There now reduced to a rather cartoonish role that seems crafted after Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Natasha, as critic Christy Lemire notes. Other fine veterans have similarly underwritten roles. Ray Winstone’s (Beowulf) as possibly traitorous old bud Mac Michale, spends most of his time cheering or jeering from the sidelines; either that or hunkering down in the back of the jeep. John Hurt (The Proposition), another fine British actor, does as much as he can as a temporarily flipped his lid tomb raider colleague, bad teeth and psychedelic hair taking center stage over his imposed mute state.

We’ve more than enough thrills and exotic locales to get us past any paucity of character development, though. What a great scene in the jungle cemetery as the painted natives uncurl from hiding places in the vines like colored Christmas balls spilling from the tree. The roaring falls of the Amazon, the verdant cliffs and thick Peruvian jungle are great backdrops for a wild car chase through the jungle with the prized crystal skull bandied from one vehicle to the other as they vie for it while fencing at some 20 miles per hour. And then there are the giant army ants that help downsize the Soviet threat one person at a time, a great shot as the horde carries a writhing victim down to its mammoth subterranean nest.

Despite his age – at 65 Harrison Ford “is old enough to qualify for a senior discount ticket to his own summer blockbuster” – the star and his fellow actors perform most of their own stunts. “My ambition in action is to have the audience look straight in the face of my character and not at the back of a capable stuntman's head,” says Ford, who worked out some three hours a day at the gym to prepare himself for the very physical role. LaBeoulf gained fifteen pounds of muscle for his part, but even then he pulled his hip’s rotator cuff, while Ray Winstone, wryly bemoaning all the action parts he keeps getting at his age, tore his hamstring.

Eyestrain is all you’ll risk, though, in this highflying adventure guaranteed to usher in your summer with the incredible lightness of being that Hollywood once again seems to remember.

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

Between the crusty catacombs, the quicksand, jungle snakes, scorpions, giant ants, and teaming soviet agents, poor Indie and crew don’t have time to slow down and savor the wonderful cuisine of Peru.

Surely, though, you do. And what better way to send off a soft almost summer evening than this luscious flan, a smooth as silk custard with just a hint of cinnamon?

Let those other guys wrest with the writhing beasties while you sit back and wallow in this sweet decadence.

¡Buen provecho!

Peruvian Flan


  • 1 cup sugar, caramelized
  • 6-10eggs, well beaten
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 dash cinnamon 


  1. Coat tube pan with caramelized sugar.
  2. Allow to harden, then place pan in container with ice cold water until the caramelized sugar cracks.
  3. Mix other ingredient in order, stir well and pour in mold.
  4. Place mold in pan with 2" hot water in preheated oven.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until firm.
  6. Let cool, then invert& unmold.
  7. Decorate with fresh berries or edible flowers, if desired.

Recipe Source: