Watching Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with My Kids

Recently I had the good fortune to spend some extra time with the kids. I make no secret of how happy that makes me.

As part of this little getaway, I had asked the oldest (“Roo”) to select a few films to take with us, to compliment the expected Star Wars contingent. She selected, to my heart’s content, the Indiana Jones Blu Ray box set. It made me think, for a moment, that I’m raising these kids all right.

Anyway, as we started to watch movies, the middle child (“Mi-Bo”) got to pick first. Her selection was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Often I feel my age with that one, because I remember seeing it in the theatre and how old I was when I did. Of course, as I’ve gotten older the “dad” stuff has gotten more poignant for me and often gets a very strong emotional reaction.

I get a little weepy when Sean Connery says softly, “Indiana…let it go.” It reminds me of gentler moments with my own dad.

The next day, the kids were asked once more to select a film to watch. They chose Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Fan Hatred

Crystal Skull is, of course, the Indiana Jones adventure mostly reviled by a number of fans. I have several friends who, upon reading even the title of this blog, rolled their eyes and prepared to hurl invective. They do it whenever you mention the movie in person, too.

While not my favorite of the series, it’s certainly not something that ever registered as worthy of hatred. It uses an altered aesthetic and replaces Nazis with an historical villain as maniacally deranged, the Soviets. It has solid observations about the cultural paranoia that defined the era, given the stakes involved. I laugh at the jokes, enjoy the adventure and miss Douglas Slocombe, whose camera work defined the look of the first three.

A part of me strongly thinks that David Tattersall would have been better suited to the situation than Janusz Kaminski, who seems uncomfortable with the massive digital set extensions. The look is certainly evocative of the era and type of film it’s mimicking, but the visual space it occupies is just different enough to persistently remind you of its uniqueness in the series.

The point is, I recognize some short-comings and still enjoy it. It’s a fun adventure that riffs off the Chariots of the Gods-style nonsense that also informed Stargate.

The Mouths of Babes

More to the point, I’m fascinated by how much my kids enjoy it. They are really into it, and it’s fun to watch it with them.

So at the end of this one, I struck up a conversation. As the credits rolled, I decided to try to get to their perspective on it.

Me: “So you know, guys, some of my friends really hate this movie.”

Roo: “Who?” (There was a fair amount of incredulity here.)

Me: “Well, {@craigsorrell} and {@yayshawndorman} both hate it. They say nasty things about it.”

Mi-Bo/Roo: “Like what?”

Me: “Well, that’s not important. Other people don’t like it too, not just them. Why do you think they don’t like it?”

Them: “I don’t know.” (Variants from both.)

Me: “Why do you like it as much as you do?”

Roo: “I like the fight scenes. I like the Amazon part, especially the ants. I mean, why wouldn’t you like it?” (shrugs)

Mi-Bo: “Daddy?”

Me: “Yeah, honey?”

Mi-Bo: “Maybe people need to stop thinking everything needs to be so serious.”

And with that, I realized that my kids already recognize the Achilles heel of all nerds/geeks/dorks. Our collective inability to relax and enjoy the ride.

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