Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Fourth Indy isn't perfect, but it's fun for series fans.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 49 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 125 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Although there's plenty of havoc (and even some double-crosses that endanger Indy), it all appears to be for the greater good. Ingenuity, teamwork, and trying to do the right thing are ultimately rewarded, although some of Indy's methods are iffy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Indy is brave, resourceful, loyal, and smart, and he's dedicated to preserving historical artifacts and protecting them from those who would misuse them. That said, you probably don't want your kids imitating him, especially given the violence he's forced to use. On the downside, enemies are portrayed one-dimensionally as purely evil, and there's lots of bickering between a few of the characters.

Violence

Characters shoot at each other; there's lots of punching, kicking, and shoving; swords are pointed at enemies' throats; characters attack each other with guns and swords from moving cars in one extended scene. Minor characters are killed in various ways -- gunfire, falls, crashes, etc. One group goes out in flames when a powerful rocket ignites. A few parts may scare young kids -- especially a sequence in which a sea of killer ants engulfs victims, or an early scene in which Indy is nearly the victim of an atomic bomb test (scary images of mushroom clouds and exploding houses/mannequins). Lots of skulls and mummies and other spooky-for-young-children elements.

Sex

Some sexual banter, but nothing terribly lewd.

Language

A few uses of words like "bulls--t," "shut up," "son of a bitch," and "damn." One or two "s--t"s.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character appears inebriated at one point, but it's just implied.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn't live up to the best of the series, but Indy-loving kids will definitely want to see it. It bears the marks of classic Indy fare -- meaning lots of adventures, some of which (like a scene involving killer ants, or another involving an atomic bomb test) might be too spooky for younger kids. There's a supernatural and extra-terrestrial undercurrent and lots of punch-heavy good-guy-versus-bad-guy fights, which do have some blood (as well as plenty of weapons, including swords and guns). There's also a bit of light swearing ("s--t," "son of a bitch," etc.) and innuendo, and enemies routinely hurl unpleasant threats at each other. But it's all handed with roguish, acerbic Indy wit, which makes it -- for the most part -- all in good, popcorn movie fun.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bystacymavros April 16, 2009

Go ahead and let the family watch this one.

What can I say? It's classic Indiana Jones. Our entire family watched it and had a blast. Complete with silly one liners, predictable jokes and lots of a... Continue reading
Adult Written byHayley Brook April 25, 2021
Kid, 7 years old August 12, 2017

sequels are always soooooo bad

This is a horrible movie! Who was this movie made for?? It's too violent for anyone under seven and too stupid for anyone seven and older! Even my favorite... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTHE_TRUTH January 2, 2016

Pretty good, know your kid though

I myself quite enjoyed this movie, but some children may find parts disturbing. For example, a scene in which swarming ants crawl inside someone's mouth co... Continue reading

What's the story?

Indiana Jones is back with a vengeance in KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL, the long-awaited fourth installment in George Lucas and Steven Spielberg's mega-hit franchise. It's 1957, and the Russians -- led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) -- have double-crossed their way into a military base in Nevada. Irina thinks the Soviets can win the Cold War by dominating the world with their minds -- but how? Find a mysterious, powerful crystal skull hidden in the South American jungle with the reluctant help of Professor Henry Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford), of course. Indy's friend Oxley (John Hurt) apparently found it once, but he's in enemy hands. Indy sets out on a rescue mission, aided and abetted by friends old and new, including motorcycle-loving, leather-jacketed punk Mutt (Shia LaBeouf).

Is it any good?

Decades have come and gone since our dear Dr. Jones' not-so-last crusade, and it's good to report that his return will entertain series fans. Sure, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull's good vs. evil race to the finish is marked by twists and turns that require not just a suspension, but a complete removal, of disbelief. But that's only to be expected -- after all, the Indiana Jones mythology wasn't built on reality. It's the ride, not the details, that audiences are paying for. And what a ride: The suspense, the wisecracks, the gloomy caves to explore -- they're all there. When Indy first enters the frame, it's like seeing a dear old friend. The filmmakers didn't reinvent the wheel (so don't expect any innovations), but they didn't ruin it, either.

And the newbies? When it comes to an iconic film series like this, passing the torch can be tricky. But diehard fans can relax: LaBeouf proves himself worthy enough to carry on the Indy tradition. He's prickly and adventurous, edgy and intelligent -- much like Indy himself. Though he's no Harrison Ford, LaBeouf could believably have been cut from the same cloth. As for the women, while Karen Allen's return to the series as feisty Marion is a delight, Blanchett's Russian accent is somewhat marred by plummy, Australian inflections when she says Indy's last name, which is often. And that's not the only jarring tone: While the first two-thirds of the film is classic Indy, the last act takes a hard swing that swerves into otherworldly territory. It's like Indiana Jones meets E.T. -- which is pretty iffy. The transgression's forgivable, but only just.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what Indiana Jones stands for and how that becomes important in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull . If he's a good guy, why does he break the rules? Is that OK? What separates him from the "bad" guys? Are real-life bad guys as thoroughly evil as the ones in movies?

  • Where does Mutt fit in? What does he have in common with Indy? How are they different?

  • Why is Indy so popular? Why is it so hard for other movies to duplicate the Indy formula? Do you think the franchise needed another movie? Why or why not?

  • How do the characters in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull demonstrate teamwork? Why is this an important character strength?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and adventure

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate