If ever there was a megalomaniac of cinema (the Hollywood kind) it is undoubtedly Steven Spielberg. There is nothing this man cannot do. Benevolent alien beings, not-so-benevolent alien beings, swashbuckling treasure hunters, dinosaurs, sharks, thieves, war heroes, war-profiteer turned heroes, racism, Nazism, colonialism - you name it he's done it.
Although it reeks of the assumption 'If it's bigger it must be better' Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of The Crystal Skull is so great to watch only because it is unpretentious and unapologetic about its need to entertain. I mean, just look at the opening sequence - the audaciously self- conscious introduction of Indy Jones as his shadow creeps up on the edge of a jeep and he puts on 'the' hat, a rapier-toting Cate Blanchet, highly magnetised mummified remains and a chase that ends in a nuclear blast which of course Henry Jones survives (and how!) . The scale of imagination (for a rationalist like myself) is just unbelievable. It's good stuff as far as entertainment is concerned. And the promise of a thrill-ride is well-kept right till the end.
Of course the tendency to indulge in some all-American flag-waving did not go unnoticed. "Better be dead than Red!". Come on! We already know what you mean Mr Spielberg when you have the Russians running amok looking for aliens that landed smack in the middle of the U.S of A. So leave the 'west is best' sloganeering where it deserves to be. Back in the 50s.
But let's call a spade a spade. This film shouldn't be judged for its cinematic appeal. Or for political correctness. Or for Spielberg's directorial abilities. For that evidence is plentiful in the form of his other films. Wikipedia has a whole other page devoted to a 'list of Steven Spielberg's films'. The point is that here is a man so comfortable with the medium at hand that he can do virtually anything with it. And for that - just that nothing more - he deserves to be remembered long after his time.