Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 American action-adventure film created by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. It is the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise. Released nineteen years after the previous film, it is set in 1957, pitting Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) against Soviet agents led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett)—searching for a telepathic crystal skull. Jones is aided by his former lover, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), and her son, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent are also part of the supporting cast.
The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2008, and was released worldwide on May 22, 2008. It received generally fair reviews from critics but received polarized reviews from fans and audiences alike. Critics praised the film for its visual effects, performances, action sequences, John Williams' musical score, and costume design, but criticized the dialogue, storyline, pacing, and overuse of CGI. It was also a financial success like the previous three films in the series, grossing over $790 million worldwide, becoming the franchise's highest-grossing film when not adjusted for inflation, as well as the second-highest-grossing film of 2008.
It is the last film to be distributed by Paramount Pictures before the acquisition of Lucasfilm in October 2012 by The Walt Disney Company, with Paramount still retaining this film and its predecessors and receiving "financial participation" from any additional films beginning with the fifth film, which is scheduled for release on June 30, 2023, with Ford set to reprise his role.
The film takes place in 1957, nineteen years after the events of the previous film. Indiana Jones is forced to stop a corrupt Soviet agent named Irina Spalko and her men from finding a crystal skull with telepathic powers. During this Journey, Jones is aided by his former love interest, Marion Ravenwood, her son Mutt Williams, and an old friend of his, Harold "Ox" Oxley.
Not Very Indy Qualities
- The main problem with this film is that the story is thin and very overused.
- The idea of aliens being behind ancient civilizations has already been heard several times; it's preposterous and makes for an uninteresting and unoriginal story, which heavily contrasted with the mystical style the original trilogy had.
- It lacks an unrelated opening sequence like the ones the first three films had (the search for the Chachapoyan Golden Idol, the fight at Club Obi Wan and Indy's attempts to recover the Cross of Coronado), instead starting the story from the very first scene.
- Plot points such as Indy being accused of helping the Soviets are raised but dropped unceremoniously.
- The science fiction elements don't really work here, unlike the mystical ones in the previous movies.
- The film relies too heavily on CGI, just like Die Another Day.
- Apart from Harrison Ford, the acting is somehow not that good, especially from Shia LaBeouf.
- Bad dialogue, which is sometimes laughable.
- The pacing isn't that great, in fact it's pretty slow in some scenes.
- Irina Spalko is a bizarre and a forgettable villain who lacks the usual coldly menacing charisma of the villains from the previous films.
- It contains scenes about Indiana Jones discovering that Marion gave him a son and talking about it with her and his son and those scenes aren't even funny at all.
- Losing out on beloved characters such as Henry Jones Sr. and Marcus Brody, while adding less satisfying ones such as Mac, Charles Stanforth and Antonin Dovchenko. These characters often feel like cheap replacements of the classic ones, like Mac who replaces Sallah, Charles who replaces Brody and Dovchenko who replaces the classic burly henchmen of the previous movies played by Pat Roach.
- The movie has a lot of ridiculous scenes and even some nonsensical stuff.
- Examples of these include Russians who manage to infiltrate the United States during the Cold War (if this happened in real life, it would have triggered a Third World War), Indy failing a whip-jump at the beginning of the movie; Indy, Mutt and Marion talking about "family affairs" while being imprisoned by the Soviets; Mac being a "triple agent" (because he keeps on switching sides among Spalko, Jones and, finally, himself) and Mutt using a huge and long snake to help Indiana Jones escape a sand pit, and of course, the infamous scene in which Indy survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a refrigerator.
- The scene with the Dorylus ants/red giants ants is very laughable and disturbing even for the franchise's standards and the creatures are similar to the scarabs from the 1999 version of The Mummy.
- In fact, the scene in which Dovchenko is devoured by the ants with many entering through his mouth to slowly suffocate him to death is really disturbing for some younger viewers, and it can make you feel nauseous.
- A very corny and anti-climatic ending with Indy and Marion's wedding, especially at the end of the movie made it seem like Shia LaBeouf's character Mutt was going to become the new main character of the series by putting on Indiana Jones’ iconic fedora, which never happened.
- The film makes numerous errors such as Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa learning Quechua and Mariachi music being played in the streets of Cuzco, Peru.
- Bad guys appearing without context (a prime example is the cemetery warrior scene).
- Spalko's weapon of choice is a sword (a pointless use), which was made for the character to be awesome but failed.
- Like with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg's direction is a bit weak.
Very Indy Qualities
- The idea of the story being set during the Cold War was a good idea for a storyline and a necessary one, as the film was going to be set in the 50s to match with Harrison Ford's age, but it was executed poorly.
- The action scenes are okay.
- Harrison Ford still makes Indy a lively character, no matter how old he is, and his performance is still great.
- John Williams provides another good score.
- The film includes some references to the franchise's spin-off material, like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles television series, and easter eggs to the previous movies, such as the Ark of the Covenant's cameo, and also the appearance of Hangar 51, which is retroactively revealed to be the warehouse where said thing was stored at the end of the first film.
- Depending on your view, the ending features a somewhat entertaining gag, despite its corny nature.
- Like the first three films, the cinematography is great.
- At least this film didn't kill the Indiana Jones franchise. If it did, the fifth film would have not been made.
The film received fairly mixed reviews from critics, but it received negative reviews from audiences and fans of the first three movies. It currently holds a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes with a "Certified Fresh" and Acording to the Critics consensus it saids right here "Though the plot elements are certainly familiar, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still delivers the thrills and Harrison Ford's return in the title role is more than welcome". Metacritic scores the film a 65/100 indicating "Generally favorable reviews" while it holds a 6.1/10 rating on IMDb. Many people claimed that the film was the worst film while other people claimed that it was a good film to this day.
- This movie spawned the phrase "Nuke the fridge", the movie equivalent of "Jump the Shark". the phrase was developed after the scene where indiana hides himself in the refrigerator to survive the explosion.
- This was the fourth and last Indiana Jones film to be distributed by Paramount Pictures. After this film, the production rights of the fifth film and the franchise, along with the Star Wars franchise, was sold to Disney.