“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” starts off with a literal bang and hardly ever lets up. Once again, Steven Spielberg shows he can handle state-of-the-art, edge-of-your-seat action sequences as well as, and better than, practically any other film director living.
The movie opens in 1957 Nevada. A rock-and-roll beginning to the tune of Elvis Presley singing “You Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog” introduces viewers to a convoy of Army vehicles. The Army convoy turns out to be a ruthless cadre of Russian Communist Army spies led by Irina Spalko, an icy Soviet agent with short coal black hair. The Russians gun down a group of Americans guarding the infamous Area 51 (the movie doesn’t show the bullets entering the bodies of the poor Americans).
The Russian convoy stops at a large warehouse inside the secret base. Spalko’s men open the trunk of one of their vehicles. Out spill Indiana Jones and his longtime British friend, Mac, who served together during World War II and as spies against the Russians. Spalko forces Indy to help her locate the mysterious Roswell findings. Indy barely escapes her clutches during a big fight, wherein Indy learns that the Russians have hired Mac to help them. Indy also barely escapes the testing of an atomic bomb!
Back at Marshall College, professor Jones learns that the incident with the Russians has made him the object of suspicion, despite his patriotic record. His close friend, Dean Stanforth, has had to resign in the wake of this, so Indy decides to get out of the country for a while. At the train station, Indy is waylaid by young Mutt Williams, a rebellious youth whose mother has disappeared looking for professor Oxley, a classmate of Indy’s. Oxley and Mutt’s mother have disappeared in Peru, where Oxley was looking for the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination, superstition and fear.
In Peru, Indy and Mutt realize that Irina Spalko and her ruthless comrades are also looking for the crystal skull. Irina believes that the skull is an alien artifact with occult powers that can help the Russians control minds. The real adventure begins, with many surprises along the way.
“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” may be the most exciting Indiana Jones movie since “Raiders Of The Lost Ark.” There are tremendous chase scenes, fight scenes and close shaves galore. It also has lots of humor. Harrison Ford deftly reprises his signature role, one of the most iconic and beloved figures in all of cinema. Along for the ride is the wonderful and feisty Karen Allen, who reprises her Raiders role of Marion Ravenwood, Indy’s true love (though he doesn’t know it). It is definitely worth the 19-year wait since the last Indiana Jones adventure, “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.”
Despite the storyline regarding mystical crystal skulls and ancient aliens from another dimension, which smacks a little bit of Erich van Daniken’s New Age “Chariots Of The Gods,” the lesson that Indiana Jones continues to learn is that knowledge and wisdom are more important than money and power. Like “The Last Crusade,” the movie includes some pro-family content. Such content ends the movie on a very upbeat note. Thus, true wisdom for the characters (and the audience) involves making strong commitments to close family relationships, in good times and bad. Finally, despite the movie’s politically correct, exaggerated view of 1950s “blacklists” in the first act, the rest of the story contains very strong anti-Communist sentiments. The Russian Communists are shown to be really bad villains. Not only do they gun down American soldiers in cold blood; viewers find out that they also gunned down the Indians guarding the temple of the crystal skull. The Commie villains also kidnap and threaten Indiana Jones and his friends. It’s about time a major contemporary Hollywood movie made the Russian Communists into the evil thugs they really were!
“Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” includes some foul language, however. Also, some of the action scenes, including scenes of large carnivorous red ants and exploring tombs with skeletal remains, are rather intense or spooky. This content, and the content regarding mystical alien crystal skulls, merits caution for children 12 and under, especially younger ones. Movies about alien visitors aren’t necessarily anti-biblical, but many people have used them to lead people away from God’s Truth, including the historical truth of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Because of the movie’s anti-Communist theme, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a good starting point for teaching children the history of why Communism is such an evil, morally bankrupt and fallacious ideology. The movie could also provoke positive conversations about traditional marriage and traditional family values. Finally, parents should discuss with their children the meaning and value of true godly wisdom, which shuns lust for money and power, especially occult power divorced from God. They could even contrast this movie and the “Chronicles of Narnia” movies with Harry Potter.