Here’s a bad idea: read a bunch of these mini-reviews and rants on Indiana Jones:

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2008/05/26/indiana-jones-and-the-great-divide/

I kind of understand, but mostly despise, the frequently expressed idea that “it’s just a fun movie, what is wrong with you for analyzing it?”  Since when is obsessive fan analysis wrong?  Very likely the people who say this have something else they will analyze for hours… sports, for instance.

I liked the movie a lot… and given George Lucas’s bent for ruining his own franchises, that’s more than could be expected.  It’s good pulpy fun, which attempts now and then to sketch in something more meaningful: a swipe at anti-communism (a nice touch in a movie whose villains are commies); a respect for teaching; a rekindled love affair; a lost son.  This technique might have fallen flat, as it did in the Star Wars prequels, but it was just good enough here.  (To see what I mean, compare Mutt Williams with Jar-Jar Binks.)

Some people seem really bothered by the aliens.  I’m not sure why; if you’re going to age Indy then you end up in the ’50s, and in pop culture that was the decade of aliens; it would’ve been jarring to send him back on ’30s style mythological quests.  And ever since Velikovsky and Van Daniken, there’s been a link, silly as it is, between archeology and aliens.  I don’t know; the same people often enjoy both fantasy and sf, but many want to put up some kind of hard barrier between them.  (Admittedly the design of the alien is horrible.  ’50s aliens were actually better than those thin, big-eyed things that infest modern pop culture.)

I liked Indy being older and crankier, though of course, this being an action movie, he ends up being more of a badass than his whippersnapper son.

My wife was bothered by the absurdity of the Latin American references, especially the mix of Inca, Nazca, and Maya elements.  Well, that just joins a bunch of other goofy elements (psychic commies, plexiglass skulls that attract gold and gunpowder, or for that matter Indy’s complete absence of archeological technique).  Plausibility has never been the series’ strong suit.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

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