Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for adventure violence and scary images.
Length: 120 minutes
Grade: B+BBC+=B
Budget: $185 million
Box Office: $315 million ($165 US, $160 Intl)

Directed by: Steven Spielberg, ‘nuff said.
Written by: George Lucas and David Koepp
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent.

Flashing forward from The Last Crusade 19 years to match the aging of the star actor, we find our famous hero battling the Russians who hope to take over the world by using the powers contained in a legendary skull and the city of gold it leads to.

Entertainment Value: B+
I liked it. It had a good beat I could dance to. But seriously, this was very much in the tradition of the two great Indiana Jones movies (few fans discuss Temple of Doom in polite company). They managed to keep it entertaining, only modestly over the line of believability, and somewhat thematic. Some people (my wife) will complain about the ending, but real fans of the series will feel like this is an excellent fourth installment. It’s certainly far better than National Treasure 2, which was bad and then felt like a rip-off as well after I saw this and realized the basic plot concept was the same.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality A, Violence D, Language C, Illegality C
This is by far the cleanest one yet, sex-wise. Even kids-in-mind gave it a 1. The violence is similar to previous, some quite violent scenes of death such as being killed by a rocket blast, and some semi-scary supernatural creepy-horror stuff. Breaking of the law is common, including grave-robbing. There’s a bit more language than I would prefer, but not so much that it felt out of place. PG-13 is correct, although we let Spencer (4) watch it and only had to tell him to cover his eyes about three times. Last Crusade was PG-13 and the other two were made before PG-13 was a rating in mid-1984.

Significant Content: B
The world is full of adventure. A full life is a combination of book-learning and real life application. Power must always be pursued by good people in order to keep it out of the hands of bad people, who will always pursue it on their own. Family matters. Supernatural things might be real. Self-reliance is a good thing, but working as a team is better. Beware of governments. The Communist era was one of great suspicion, where innocent people were harmed by associative guilt. Real strength is shown by restraint and calm, not by rash threats. But the main theme here is that knowledge is real treasure.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
As a wild action movie, this is very satisfying. As a thought-starter, not so much. The end scene was well over-the-top and implausible, but so what. It’s Indy. Anything can happen. My wife disliked that the supernatural power in Raiders and Last Crusade was God-centered, but this wasn’t, and I agree that’s a defect. I will give credit for something that I wouldn’t have noticed except for having just recently seen National Treasure 2. This movie takes enough time to explain itself to the audience so that we can understand what’s going on whereas that other series doesn’t. This makes Indy’s movies much easier to enjoy. Given that Indy has had clear evidence of God’s power previously, I do wish he had learned this lesson and applied it here.

Discussion Questions:
~Why does Mutt seem so angry? Compare his level of strength and confidence with Indy’s. What does over-aggressiveness say about a person?
~Do you believe in supernatural things other than God?
~Have you ever been accused of something only because you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time or because of people you hung around with?
~Which is more precious: gold or knowledge? Why? What does the Bible say?
~Have you ever been betrayed by someone who you trusted? What was that like?
~Indiana Jones has seen God’s power clearly demonstrated before. Does he seem like a person transformed by this experience? Would Indy likely pray or seek God if he were real? Why doesn’t he in this movie?
~Which matters more: academic learning or real-world activities?
Overall Grade: B
Good and faithful to the tone of the former movies, and certainly far better than National Treasure 2.

No comments: