I went to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on opening night with seven other grown men and had a great time chompin’ pop-corn and watchin’ Indy crack his whip and knuckles again after a 19 year break from the silver screen. How was the movie? Fun. Was it spectacular? Nah.
But I’ve actually been getting a kick out of listening to and reading all the negative reviews of the movie. While I agree with most of them as to whether the movie is on par with Raiders or Last Crusade (Temple seems to be nearly universally hated) – I’ve got a different take on it.
Like Star Wars Episode I, which came out 20 years after the last Star Wars film, Indy 4 was doomed to be criticized by those who loved the first three. (or at least two of the first three.) Interestingly, Episode I was met with mostly whining and complaining by all the twenty or thirty-something year old men (like me) who saw their first Star Wars film when they were a boy, but was loved by all the young boys who saw it. Hmmmm. Could it be it wasn’t really made for us grown ups? Yes, I hate Jar-Jar, but is Chewbacca really that much more believable or sophisticated? Would we really have loved Star Wars so much if we’d been our current age, then? My dad doesn’t seem as obsessed with Star Wars as I am, and he saw them all with me. I wonder why. Oh, yeah, he saw them as a grown up.
Which brings me to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The issue isn’t that Harrison Ford is too old. The issue is that we are. He did a remarkably great job doing an older, worn out Indy who could still crack a joke as well as a whip. In fact, he probably brought the most spark to the film. Indy 4 (a much easier to type title) had a no-win challenge. If it did what could be done 20+ years ago, we’d say it felt dated and didn’t take advantage of modern technology. If it did take advantage of today’s technology, then we’d say it lost the feel of the original films. Either way it can’t live up the expectation of being an Indiana Jones movie of the 70’s or barely 80’s. We want the movie to do to us NOW what the originals did to us then… too bad. We grew up. That’s one of the costs of growing up. We start to criticize and analyze too much. When we were kids, we just went to the movies and got lost in it. Those were good times.
My parents left me in the theater ALL DAY when Raiders came out. We were on vacation – I’d come to the doors at the front of the theater and signal thumbs up or thumbs down if I was going to stay in and watch again, or if I wanted them to pick me up. (In those days, they allowed you to pay once and stay and watch as many times as you wanted.) I stayed all day and watched it as many times as it showed that day.
So, yes. Indy 4 lacked the magic I hoped for – but I don’t blame the movie. I blame my age. But it was a fun film. A little far fetched at times, but, hey! It’s a movie! Ever hear a kid complain that a movie was too far fetched? I thought it was less scary, less gross and had less sexual humor than the earlier ones – and all the adventure and mystery for the most part. Realistic? Not a bit. Just the way a movie is supposed to be.
I’d love to be a kid again, but if I can’t, the next best thing is going to a good adventure movie. Pass the pop corn.
(You can read the official Kidology Review by Pastor Marty Martin on Kidology.org, he covers the Christian concerns angle so I didn’t bother here.)