Indiana Jones is officially back, everyone. Audiences lined up and filled theaters across the U.S. last night at 12:01 a.m. to see Hollywood's most famous archaeologist return to the screen in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," albeit a little older than the last time we saw him take on such an adventure.
Yet some reviewers have been giving the fourth installment in the series a pretty lukewarm response, particularly when it premiered at Cannes on Sunday night. According to Yahoo! Movies, the movie is currently getting an average grade of B- with both critics and Yahoo! users, though Roger Ebert gave it an A- and said, "I can say that if you liked the other Indiana Jones movies, you will like this one, and that if you did not, there is no talking to you."
So far, reviewers have been less kind to Our Man Indy than the Soviet villains with whom he contends, circa 1957, claiming the film relies too heavily on our fondness for the first three films instead of digging into Jones' "dark" heart.
Perhaps one reason "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" got such a mixed response at the Cannes Film Festival is that, on the Cote d'Azur at least, escapism is out, seriousness in. Ordinary people, contemporary times, real crimes and misdemeanors have been the order of the day, not swashbuckling archaeologists who destroy more priceless antiquities than they uncover.
But just because Spider-Man is an adolescent, love-sick puppy, Batman does the Jekyll-Hyde bit and Iron Man is consumed with existential doubts doesn't mean we have to burden Indiana Jones with all that "character development." Not everyone wants to be edified at the bijou; the Indy movies are sheer entertainment. This is what Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have insisted since 1981. It's all about fun, and enough fun to earn $1.2 billion to date, one might add.