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

Any kid born in the 80’s grew up knowing that Indiana Jones was the epitome of cool. I was a little too young to catch the first few when they came out (heck, I’m only 10 weeks older than the franchise), but long before my mom deemed me “old enough” to watch them, I knew Indiana Jones was as awesome as they come.

It’s not surprising then that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, released 27 years after Raiders of the Lost Ark, makes me and the rest of my generation feel a little nostalgic, a little wistful, and irreversibly grown-up. Very few of us actually did grow up to be archaeologists, the way we swore we would be when we thrilled to Indy’s adventures. (And I suspect those of my generation who did become archaeologists find they have a somewhat less exciting career than depicted on-screen.) I for one am not digging up tombs in Egypt — I’m… I’m working on knowledge management at Slightly Evil, LLP — and there’s no way to avoid being reminded of that when watching this film.

Not only has my generation grown up and changed, the world around us has too — not just our perceptions and understandings of it, it’s really changed since the 80’s, when AIDS was a mysterious illness you could avoid by simply not being gay, terrorism only happened “over there,” airplanes had a smoking section, people could beat computers at chess, and we were all still holding out hope for flying cars and personal jet packs by the end of the millennium.

(Minor league spoilers ahead.)

Yep, things have changed. Things have changed for Indy, too — he’s trying to get tenure, for goodness’ sake. Early in the story, he witnesses a hydrogen bomb test, and as he stands silhouetted against the sky, looking at the mushroom cloud rising into the air, you can’t help but feel the growing obseleteness of his fedora and bull whip.

For me, the movie never recovered from the poignancy of that scene. The plot is forgettable (though well-acted) and the overwhelming sense that this character’s time has come and gone hangs over the rest of the story. Not that that’s a criticism — the movie would have been just terrible if the creators had tried to pretend otherwise. No, it was the best path for Indy to take, but I will always think of this movie with a little bittersweet ache.

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LeBeouf.

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One Response

  1. i like what you had to say. I felt the opening warehouse scene along with the hydrogen bomb scene was classic indiana jones…however, I felt a little let down with the jungle exposition along with the…well…almost forced ending. I wish they brought noah’s ark or the fountain of youth or something more significant than some random skulls.

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