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

Crystal Skull is a good, old-fashioned adventure tale with a heart-warming ending and some silly paranormal activity thrown in for good measure.


I was surprised by how much I liked it! I wasn’t crazy about Raiders of the Lost Ark when I saw it a couple of years ago, but it’s winter break right now, and Crystal Skull was on, so I took the chance that I’d like it more than Raiders. Also, since I saw the Star Wars trilogy this year, I’m more likely now to watch something with Harrison Ford in it than I was a couple of years ago, when I didn’t really know who he was.


This is a Stephen Spielberg film, and one scene early on reminded me of E.T.‘s suspenseful-dark-forest scenes. I have to say the film is close to perfect in its technical aspects, not because I was paying attention to technical details as I watched, but because I didn’t pay attention – that is, nothing drew my attention away from the story, itself. The best movies let you forget you’re watching a movie, and that pretty much happened with this one.

The only real exception was the paranormal sequence, because it was so ridiculous, and the scene where monkeys attacked a car. My reaction to that was to say, aloud, to the TV, “Oooh. CGI monkeys.”

Oh, and a couple of action scenes ran a bit long. Impatient as I am, I fast-forwarded through them, because I knew I wouldn’t miss anything: Oh, look, they’re done running away (for now). Play.


The bad:

There really are crystal skulls*, and there really are legends and rumors about 13 of them coming from lost cities and having supernatural powers, but, of course, they’re just that – legends and rumors. At the beginning of the film, Indy believes them about as much as you do, and the fact that a “psychic” villain is the one seeking the skull makes them all the less believable. By the end, however, you have your typical Indiana Jones formula: a revelation of the true, inexplicable power of the artifact, which ends up destroying those foolish and greedy enough to want it for themselves.


But wait, there’s more: it turns out the skulls were crafted by aliens, and when the head skull (no pun intended) is returned to its shrine, the adventurers are suddenly surrounded by sentient skeletons, which turn into one, living creature and abduct the bad guys. If you have a problem with the idea of aliens and non-angelic beings that exist in different dimensions, you won’t like the end of Crystal Skull.

The good:

Note one exchange from Indy & Marion’s argument:

“Why didn’t you ever talk to me about it?”

“Because we never had an argument I won!”

Through the window of that whole conversation, we see how detrimental pride is to a relationship.


I like the subplot of familial reconciliation. Although it was wrong for Indy to father a child outside of marriage, it’s great that he finally makes things right by marrying and taking on the responsibility of his family.

Big ideas:

  • Lust for supernatural knowledge is dangerous. (This is Biblical: Genesis 3:6-23; Exodus 33:20.)
  • Mysterious beings from a different dimension.
  • Second chances for love and family.
  • Never getting over your first love.
  • Young whipper-snappers can be surprisingly helpful.
  • All those sword-fighting lessons at prep school really do pay off.


– – – – –

*Want to learn more about real crystal skull artifacts? Here’s a Nat. Geo. article, and here’s Wikipedia.

Want to watch another show about a crystal skull? Check out Stargate SG-1’s episode of the same name; I like it.


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