Making the Grades
Nineteen years have passed since Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) set off on his last adventure. His return will rank this movie as one of the most anticipated renewals of a franchise since Star Wars. It's an onerous task to live up to, and Ford -- like the rest of us -- hasn't gotten any younger.
Still a professor at the fictitious (Frank) Marshall College (named after the prominent producer of the series), it's now 1957 and Indy is pulled into a difficult dilemma when he inadvertently finds himself working for the Russians. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) is a cold, indomitable spy, and she's determined to locate a mysterious crystal skull that, when placed in a specified location of a lost city in South America, will bring her country unstoppable power.
Escaping from the grasp of the Soviets, Jones returns to teaching only to learn, in this era of hypersensitive politics, that he has been suspended due to suspicions of conspiring with the enemy. Deflated, the aging hero is about to accept his demise when a young stranger interrupts his plans. Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) persuades Jones to help him find one of the most enigmatic archeological discoveries known to man -- the Crystal Skull of Akator.
The ensuing adventure is the exciting stuff most of us have been eagerly looking forward to; yet families will want to carefully consider the content before taking children in tow. Perhaps the best suggestion is to preview past Indiana Jones adventures as a reference point. This new chapter offers similar action, but the violence seems just a shade lighter even though there is still ample carnage on screen. People are gunned down with machine guns in more than one sequence, men are lit on fire, a nuclear bomb is demonstrated killing a couple more people, and there are dozens of fists to the face, falls from cliffs and other physical brutality. Finally, there are these giant "red" ants that eat people alive -- likely to be voted as the nastiest form of death in the movie.
On the positive side, Indy doesn't have the time (or perhaps energy?) for the usual sexual escapade that punctuates the former movies. Other than a discussion about an illegitimate child, there is no sexual content. Profanities are also relatively infrequent, with a few terms of deity and scatological words.
Traveling around the world, bulldozing his way through jungles, and fighting off bad commies on every turn, our intrepid hero manages to convince us that such antics are still possible -- even when one qualifies for seniors' discounts. Ford is determined to use stunt doubles as little as possible and that choice is evident in the film. Hence, the pacing is a tad slower than previous outings. Nonetheless, Lucas has penned a story that keeps us engaged and Spielberg knows how to pull every ounce of potential out of a scene. This famous team isn't known for flops, and this title will not be an exception.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
What elements in this movie are specific to the time period in which it was set? What other things do you notice that may not have been as accepted (or even downright impossible) during the 1950s,? How does the “fun” and lighthearted approach, along with the music, allow you to forget such serious concerns?
Crystal skulls are real archeological mysteries. Some of the websites the producers of this movie researched include: