Australian Council on Children and the Media

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13, PG to 15 (Violence; Disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • a review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 28 May 2008.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to numerous violent and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to numerous violent and disturbing scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Frequent action violence
Length 117 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the year 1957, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull commences at a restricted US military base in Nevada where Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) escape from an encounter with Russian agents led by Colonel Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). Before his escape, Indiana finds the remains of a humanoid alien which we later hear had a crystal skull and skeleton.
Indiana Jones returns to Marshall College and his work as Professor of Archaeology, but is fired by Dean Stanforth (Jim Broadbent) as a result of pressure placed on the College by the US government. Just as he is leaving town, Indy is approached by Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), a rebellious youth who shows him a coded letter from Professor “Ox” Oxley (John Hurt), an old colleague of Indy’s. Oxley claims to have found the fabled Crystal Skull of Akator (Eldorado), which was taken from Akator by Spanish conquistadors. The letter identifies the location of the skull.

Indy and Mutt head into the Peruvian jungle and uncover the Crystal Skull but are once again captured by the Russians, whom Mac, now turned traitor, is now helping. As prisoners, Indiana and Mutt are reunited with Professor Oxley and Mutt’s mother Marion (Karen Allen).

Epic struggles with both the Russians and supernatural forces follow as the heroes fight to stop the skull falling into the wrong hands.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The Cold War; aliens

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal skull contains frequent action violence and accidental harm. Examples include:

  • Four teenagers drive a hot-rod styled car in a reckless manner along a highway. While racing another car they drive on the wrong side of the road and have to swerve off the road when an oncoming car approaches.   
  • Russian agents dressed as US military troops shoot a number of US military guards at a guard post. We see the bodies lying on the ground with bloodied bullet wounds and the attackers dragging the bodies away.
  • Men dressed in US military clothing drag Indiana Jones and Mac from the boots of two cars. One of the men slaps Indiana hard across the face and a number of other men point machineguns in a threatening manner.
  • Irina Spalko holds the point of a sabre in a menacing manner at the throat of Indiana Jones.
  • Mac holds a gun to Indiana’s head forcing Indiana to surrender a machinegun he was holding. Indiana drops the machinegun, which goes off shooting one of the attackers in the foot, we see a hole in the attackers boot (no blood) and he collapses to the ground. Indiana runs away with the attackers firing their machineguns at Indiana. Indiana ends up between two men in the front seat of a speeding vehicle. He elbows one man in the face and punches a second man in the face and forces a women out of a speeding vehicle.
  • During a fight, Indiana and the man he is fighting fall through the roof of a building to land heavily on the floor below. Indiana’s attacker wraps a chain around Indiana’s neck and punches him in the face. In response Indiana kicks his attacker in the face.
  • Four machinegun wielding attackers enter the room standing behind a jet engine, which starts with bursts of flame, incinerating the four attackers.
  • Indiana finds himself in a deserted mock town complete with test dummies. Indiana hears warning sirens and realises that an atomic bomb is about to be detonated. He hides inside a refrigerator to shield himself from the blast. The explosion incinerates the mock town blowing buildings away in a firestorm. A car containing a Russian attacker is also swept away. Indiana, inside his fridge, is hurled a kilometre or so through the air to bounce numerous times along the ground before coming to rest. Indiana crawls out of the fridge and other than a small amount of blood on his lip is uninjured.
  • In a cafe crowded with teenagers, two big men (Russian KGB) approach and threaten Indiana and Mutt. In response Mutt pulls a knife on the two men, who in turn pull guns out and point them at Indiana and Mutt. As the two KGB agents leave with Indiana, Mutt punches one of the teenagers in the face to create a diversion and the entire cafe erupts into an all out brawl.
  • To escape from KGB agents pursuing them in cars, Mutt rides a motorbike with Indiana on the back. A car pulls next to Mutt and Indiana with KGB agents grabbing Indiana from the bike and pulling him into the car. Indiana punches and elbows his attackers and then crawls out of the speeding car to jump back onto the motorbike. The motorbike and car continue the chase, driving through a crowd of demonstrating students forcing the demonstrators to jump from the path of the car and motorbike. The car eventually crashes into a large statue with the head of the statue braking off and crashing through the windscreen of the car.
  • Several scenes contain images of Mutt playing with a knife flicking and twirling the knife in his hand.
  • While entering some ruins, Indiana and Mutt are attacked by a group of indigenous Peruvians who fight using martial arts with lots of spinning and twirling kicks. The Peruvians also attack with blowpipes and poisonous darts, with one dart narrowly missing Mutt. Indiana grabs one of the blowpipes and blows the dart back into the mouth of his attacker. We see the man fall to the ground with an open mouth and the dart sticking into the back of his throat.  
  • Indiana is interrogated by Irina Spalko while bound to a chair. He is forced to look into the eyes of the crystal skull and then starts to shake and convulse.
  • Indiana punches Mac in the face breaking Mac's nose.
  • In one escape attempt, Mutt throws an oil lamp on the ground causing it to burst into flames and set a tent on fire.
  • Indiana and Marion run into a quick-sand pit, quickly sinking to their necks. Mutt throws a long thick Rat Snake to Marion and Indiana, who pull themselves out of the sand.
  • In an attempt to escape from an army vehicle, Indiana and Mutt repeatedly kick a man in the face, with Indiana then throwing the man out of the vehicle.
  • Indiana fires a missile at the truck causing the truck to explode. A giant metal wheel flies off of the exploding truck to crash into the vehicles behind, tearing great gashes in them.
  • Mutt standing on one speeding vehicle has a sword fight with Irina, who is standing on a second speeding vehicle. Mutt ends up straddling the two speeding vehicles with vegetation continuously wiping at his crotch.
  • Irina kicks Mutt in the head and stomach after which Mutt has blood on his face.
  • Indiana punches and elbows numerous Russians in the face and body and pulls the ear of one Russian. A Russian punches down on Indiana’s head in a brutal manner.
  • Indiana, Mutt, Marion and Oxley enter the ruins of Akator and are chased by indigenous Peruvians who throw boleadoras which wrap around their legs and trip them. The Peruvians surround them, pointing spears, but back away when Indiana holds up the crystal skull.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull contains many scenes with horror images that may scare or disturb children under five. Examples include:

  • A coffin-like box is opened to reveal a man-sized figure covered in a silver suit. The suit is cut open with vapours escaping and a skeletal hand is pulled out.
  • One scene contains images of mentally insane patients. The patients are kept behind bars in a very old, run down prison. The patients, who look extremely destitute and pathetic, reach through the bars crying out hysterically as if begging for their freedom. There is much screaming and shouting.
  • Indiana and Mutt are attacked by indigenous Peruvians wearing skeleton skull masks which make the attackers appear evil and ghost-like, the attackers also move in an animal/monkey-like manner.
  • A swarm of very large scorpions crawl all over Mutt and one of the scorpions bites him.
  • There are images of a number of skeletons with distorted, elongated skulls including a child-sized skeleton. Indiana tells Mutt that the local inhabitants used to bind the infant’s head with rope at birth to deliberately distort the shape of the infant’s head in an effort to please the gods.
  • Indiana cuts open a mummy to reveal a perfectly preserved old man. The preserved body then quickly begins to decompose with the nose disintegrating and the skin turning grey and shrivelled. Indiana gives Mutt a mummified corpse to hold.
  • One scene contains images of a dead alien with an elongated skull, the back of the alien’s head had been cut open to reveal a crystal skull beneath
  • Indiana, while sinking in a dry/quick sandpit, is thrown a very long thick python-like snake. He appears to be terrified of the snake, refusing to grab hold of it.
  • One scene contains horror-like images of very large swarming soldier ants. The ants swarm over the body of a Russian soldier with the ants crawling inside the screaming soldier’s mouth. We see the soldier’s skin rippling beneath the ants, as if he is being eaten alive, and the ants then dragging the body into their nest to be consumed with just the soldier’s feet sticking out of the nest.
  • One scene contains images of hostile spear wielding indigenous Peruvians with their bodies painted with mud and their eyes blackened. At the start of the scene the mud-covered Peruvians appear to crawl out of the walls and ceiling of a cave.
  • A rotting corpse is shown impaled on a wooden stake.
  • Thirteen crystal alien skeletons sit on gold thrones. One of the skeletons is minus its skull. When a crystal skull is held near the headless skeleton the skull pulls itself out of the holder’s hands to reattach itself to the headless skeleton.
  • A large spaceship rises from ancient ruins with the ruins transforming into a swirling vortex. The vortex sucks the ruins and a large mass of water into it, leaving behind a giant empty crater.
  • Dozens of Peruvians are seen lying on the ground dead with their bodies riddled with wounds.
  • Irina is approached by a menacing looking crystal alien skeleton. The alien skeleton looks into Irina’s eyes, vapours pour out of the alien’s eyes and enter into Irina’s eyes. Irina says it’s too much for her and starts to scream in agony. Light comes out of Irina’s eyes and her head and body disintegrate into particles of light, which are then sucked into a swirling vortex. A number of Russians and Mac are sucked into the same vortex.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be scared or disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the violence and disturbing images described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern.

Sexual references

The film contains some sexual references, including:

  • Mutt has a sword fight with Irina during which Irina states, “just like a young man, quick to begin, quick to finish”
  • Indiana makes reference to having ‘been with’ a number of other women. He says he was not content with the other women because they did not have Marion’s special spark.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Indiana is seen in a shower naked from the waist up. Someone is seen scrubbing Indiana's genital region with a brush which Indiana grabs and moves further up his torso.
  • Indiana and Marion kiss passionately following their wedding ceremony.

Use of substances

There is occasional use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Indiana and Dean Stanforth are seen holding glasses of wine.
  • While in a cafe, Mutt swipes a bottle of beer from the tray of a passing waitress, Indiana returns the beer to the tray.
  • Mac smokes cigars continuously throughout the film
  • Mac holds an empty vodka bottle. He behaves in an intoxicated manner, slurring his words and staggering.

Coarse language

The film contains a scattering of infrequent low-level coarse language and putdowns/name calling. Examples include:

  • Bloody awful
  • Bullshit
  • Chink
  • Ruski son of a bitch
  • Don’t give these pigs a thing
  • Shut the hell up
  • Greaser
  • Stupid son of a bitch

In a nutshell

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an action adventure which is pure entertainment escapism and likely to be very much enjoyed by older adolescents and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that the real treasure in life is not gold, but comes from knowledge, one’s personal beliefs, values and friendships and one’s passion in life.

This movie could give parents the opportunity to discuss with older children the real-life consequences of:

  • Mac’s traitorous behaviour and greed
  • the reckless and dangerous driving of a car by a group of teenagers
  • Irina’s desire to use the power of the crystal skull to force everyone in the world have the same values and beliefs as herself

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