Okay, so it opened on Thursday and most of America has already seen it, right? Well, if you haven’t and you like Indiana Jones, you’ll like this one. It isn’t as good as The Last Crusade or Raiders of the Lost Ark, but Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does not disappoint. Sure, if you’ve seen enough of the teasers, you can put parts of the plot together and the ending is rather predictable, but at exactly two hours of running time, it’s a good escape. I did spot one anachronism in the movie: in the very last scene of the movie, there is an American flag hanging the corner of the room. The flag is a 50-star flag. Problematic because the movie is set in 1957 – two years before Alaska and Hawaii joined the union and three years before the last two stars were added. Also, the flag had a gold fringe. You can tell the flag is a 50-star because when a 50-star hangs at the end of the pole suspended from the wall, the stars make a perfect vertical line – something a 48-star flag just cannot do.
But back to the movie. Our hero, Dr. Henry Jones, Jr., is captured by the Communists who want to know what is in a box in a storage warehouse located on Area 54 in the middle of the Nevada desert. They fake their way into the base and pull Indy out of the trunk of a 1954 Ford. Remember this is 19 years after The Last Crusade and so the Nazis are no more, so we need a new arch-enemy for Indy to have to fight. Of course Indy does escape from the Russians in true Indiana Jones fashion, loses his job at the university and decides to pack it in and move to London. Along comes “Mutt” played by Shia LeBouf, a James Dean-wanna-be (complete with duck-tail hair, leather jacket, motorcycle cap and Harley-Davidson). He looks more like Brando in On the Waterfront than James Dean, but it’s the rebel thing. Mutt joins Indiana in hoping to find Mutt’s mother who has been kidnapped along with the man Mutt regards as a mentor-type. Yes, they are all found amid the Russians, Indy and Mutt find the Crystal Skull and everyone starts looking for the temple where the skull belongs. Our anti-heroine, played very well by Cate Blanchett gets her comeuppance and everything plays out with the happy ending we’re all accustomed to in an Indiana Jones movie. Karen Allen reprises her role as Marion Ravenwood, from Raiders and helps add to much of the comedic action of the movie. Yes, Virginia there is a snake in the movie so if you don’t like snakes, best turn your head when Indy and Marion are sinking in a dry sand bog, but the scene is funny, snake and all.
There isn’t quite the edge-of-your-seat action of Last Crusade but then again, Indy is older so he’s going to be slower. But the sword fight between LeBouf and Blanchett is rather humorous. It was most unfortunate that Sean Connery didn’t want to return to reprise his role from Last Crusade. He would have made a genuine addition to the crowd. The story goes that both Indy’s father and friend Brody have both died in the interim. They are seen only as photographs on Indy’s desk and their demise adds to the lack of reason for Indy to stay around after being accused of being a Communist sympathizer.
As I said before, there isn’t the swashbuckling of episodes past, but then again, Indiana Jones, like Harrison Ford is beginning to show his age. It’s also the 1950s, a time where America was changing and growing. We had gotten away from the fear of the Nazis and were moving into the Red Scare where college campuses were rife with protests against the USSR and Joseph McCarthy was pointing his Communist diving rod at everyone. One thing not mentioned was the 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. Perhaps, this was set just after that happened and the impact had worn off a little. We were living with the nuclear scare at that point so the military was testing a few more atomic bombs for survival purposes. Still, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is good entertainment and well worth the time to go see it. I give it 4 ¾ stars out of 5 just because of the 50-star flag at the end. I expected Spielberg to be more attentive to detail.