The secret the audience holds is that Indy is never really in danger because he’s a hero, but Indy doesn’t know that, so we suffer along with his every near miss wince, daring escape gasp, and sudden renewed hope for life. The problem with The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that the author (yes, I’m talking to you, Mr. Lucas) not only inexplicably gives his characters the ability to succeed in doing anything remotely plausible that they attempt but criminally allows the characters to become keenly aware of this. [more...]
So there you go. One of the keys to writing good action/adventure is this: don't let the hero know he's invincible. Violating this rule is probably one of the major ways a lot of adventure movies fail even though they follow the proven formulas.