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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Movies)
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Information about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 (12 years ago) adventure film. It is the fourth movie in the Indiana Jones franchise, created by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. Released nineteen years after the previous film, the movie acknowledges its star Harrison Ford's age by setting itself in 1957 (63 years ago). It pays tribute to the science fiction B-movies of the era, pitting Indiana Jones against Soviet agents – led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) – for a psychic alien crystal skull. Indiana is aided by his former lover Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) and their son Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf). Ray Winstone, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent are also part of the supporting cast.

The movie languished in development hell because Spielberg and Ford disagreed over Lucas' original concept, which featured a more overt focus on aliens. Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont, and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts, before David Koepp's script satisfied all three men. Shooting began on Jun. 18, 2007 (13 years ago), and took place in various locations: New Mexico; New Haven, Connecticut; Hawaii; Fresno, California; and on soundstages in Los Angeles. To keep aesthetic continuity with the previous films, the crew relied on traditional stunt work instead of computer-generated stunt doubles, and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński studied Douglas Slocombe's style from the previous films.

Marketing relied heavily on the public's nostalgia for the series, with products taking inspiration from all four films. Anticipation for the movie was heightened by secrecy, which resulted in a legal dispute over an extra violating his non-disclosure agreement and the arrest of another man for stealing a computer containing various documents related to the production. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released worldwide on May 22, 2008 (12 years ago), and was a financial success, grossing over $786 million worldwide, becoming the second highest grossing movie of 2008 (12 years ago). The movie received mostly positive reviews from critics, but fan reaction was mixed.



In 1957 (63 years ago), Indiana Jones and his long-time partner George "Mac" McHale are kidnapped by a group of Soviet agents led by the psychic Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko. The Soviets infiltrate a government warehouse in Nevada and force Indiana to find a crate containing the remains of an extraterrestrial life form that crashed ten years prior in Roswell, New Mexico. After finding the crate, Mac double-crosses Indiana, having been bought off by the Soviets. Indiana manages to escape into the desert, where he stumbles upon a nuclear test town and survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. He is later found and debriefed by the FBI because of Mac's Soviet ties. Shortly after returning to Marshall College, Indiana is offered an indefinite leave of absence to avoid being fired because of the incident.

At a train station, Indiana is stopped by greaser Mutt Williams, who tells him that his old colleague Harold Oxley was kidnapped after discovering a crystal skull in Peru. Indiana proceeds to tell Mutt the legend of a skull found in the mystical city of Akator, in which whoever returns the skull to the city would be given control over its supernatural powers. Mutt gives Indiana a letter from his mother, who was also kidnapped, containing a riddle written by Oxley in an ancient Latin American language, which leads them to the Nazca Lines in Peru. There they discover that Oxley was incarcerated in a psychiatric hospital, having suffered a mental breakdown from the powers of the skull, until he was kidnapped by the Soviets. In Oxley's cell, they find clues that lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador who went missing in the 16th century while searching for Akator. They discover the skull at the grave, with Indiana reasoning that Oxley had hidden it there after finding it.

Shortly afterward, Indiana and Mutt are captured by the Soviets and taken to their camp in Brazil, where they find Oxley and Mutt's mother, who turns out to be Indiana's old love, Marion Ravenwood, and reveals that Mutt is Indiana's son. Spalko believes that the crystal skull belongs to an extraterrestrial life form and holds great psychic power, and reveals that the specimen stolen from the warehouse also has a crystal skull. She also believes that returning the skull to Akator will grant the Soviets the advantage of psychic warfare. After a fight between Mutt, Indiana and Marion, a Russian soldier gets fed up and puts a gag in Marion's mouth (a nod to the first Indiana Jones film), but she continues to shout furiously though her voice is muffled. Indiana, Marion, Mutt and Oxley manage to escape from the Soviets into the Amazon, where Mac claims that he is actually a CIA double agent working against the Soviets and joins the group.

The five reach the temple of Akator where they survive an attack by the Ugha warriors defending the temple. As they enter the temple, Mac, who is actually still loyal to the Soviets, secretly leaves a trail of homing devices for the Soviets to follow. The five enter a chamber containing thirteen alien crystal skeletons, one missing a skull, seated on thrones in a circle. After the Soviets arrive and again reveal Mac's complicity, Spalko places the skull onto the headless skeleton. The aliens begin communicating to the group through Oxley in an ancient Mayan dialect, promising to reward them a "big gift." Spalko approaches and demands to "know everything." The aliens grant her request and transfer their collective knowledge into her mind, activating a portal to another dimension. Indiana, Marion, Mutt and the now-sane Oxley escape the temple, while Mac and the other Soviets are sucked into the portal; the skeletons, meanwhile, form a single alien which overwhelms Spalko with its knowledge, causing her brain to ignite and her body to disintegrate, her scattered essence absorbed into the portal. The temple crumbles, and a flying saucer rises from the debris and disappears to the "space between spaces." After they return home, Indiana is reinstated and made an associate dean at Marshall College, and he and Marion are married. Indiana's hat blows off his head and Mutt picks it up, but Indiana takes it back, saying "Not yet, kid"


  • Harrison Ford reprises the role of Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. To prepare for the role, the 64-year-old Ford spent three hours a day at a gym, practiced with the bullwhip for two weeks, and relied on a high-protein diet of fish and vegetables. Ford had kept fit during the series' hiatus anyway, as he hoped for another film. He performed many of his own stunts because stunt technology had become safer since 1989 (31 years ago), and he also felt it improved his performance. He argued, "The appeal of Indiana Jones isn't his youth but his imagination, his resourcefulness. His physicality is a big part of it, especially the way he gets out of tight situations. But it's not all hitting people and falling from high places. My ambition in action is to have the audience look straight in the face of character and not at the back of a capable stuntman's head. I hope to continue that no matter how old I get." Ford felt his return would also help American culture be less paranoid about aging (he refused to dye his hair for the role), because of the film's family appeal: "This is a movie which is geared not to [the young] segment of the demographic, an age-defined segment...We've got a great shot at breaking the movie demographic constraints." He told Koepp to add more references to his age in the script. Spielberg said Ford was not too old to play Indiana: "When a guy gets to be that age and he still packs the same punch, and he still runs just as fast and climbs just as high, he's gonna be breathing a little heavier at the end of the set piece. And I felt, 'Let's have some fun with that. Let's not hide that.'" Spielberg recalled the line in Raiders, "It's not the years, it's the mileage", and felt he could not tell the difference between Ford during the shoots for Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
  • Shia LaBeouf plays Henry "Mutt Williams" Jones III, a motorcycle-riding greaser and Indiana's sidekick and son. The concept of Indiana Jones having offspring was introduced in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, in which Old Indy is shown to have a daughter. During development of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, this idea was incorporated into Frank Darabont's script, with Indiana and Marion having a 13-year-old daughter. However, Spielberg found this too similar to The Lost World: Jurassic Park, so a son was created instead. Koepp credited the character's creation to Jeff Nathanson and Lucas. Koepp wanted to make Mutt into a nerd, but Lucas refused, explaining he had to resemble Marlon Brando in The Wild One; "he needs to be what Indiana Jones' father thought of [him] – the curse returns in the form of his own son – he's everything a father can't stand".
  • LaBeouf was Spielberg's first choice for the role, having been impressed by his performance in Holes. Excited at the prospect of being in an Indiana Jones film, LaBeouf signed on without reading the script and did not know what character he would play. He worked out and gained fifteen pounds of muscle for the role, and also repeatedly watched the other movies to get into character. LaBeouf also watched Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause and The Wild One to get into his character's mindset, copying mannerisms and words from characters in those films, such as the use of a switchblade as a weapon. Lucas also consulted on the greaser look, joking that LaBeouf was "sent to the American Graffiti school of greaserland". LaBeouf pulled his rotator cuff when filming his duel with Spalko, which was his first injury in his career. The injury got worse throughout filming until he pulled his groin.
  • Cate Blanchett plays the villainous Soviet agent Irina Spalko. Screenwriter David Koepp created the character. Frank Marshall said Spalko continued the tradition of Indiana having a love-hate relationship "with every woman he ever comes in contact with". Blanchett had wanted to play a villain for a "couple of years", and enjoyed being part of the Indiana Jones legacy as she loved the previous films. Spielberg praised Blanchett as a "master of disguise", and considers her his favorite Indiana Jones villain for coming up with much of Spalko's characteristics. Spalko's bob cut was her idea, with the character's stern looks and behaviour recalling Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love. Blanchett learned to fence for the character, but during filming, Spielberg decided to give Spalko "karate chop" skills. LaBeouf recalled Blanchett was elusive on set, and Ford was surprised when he met her on set outside of costume. He noted, "There's no aspect of her behavior that was not consistent with this bizarre person she's playing."
  • Karen Allen reprises the role of Marion Ravenwood, under the married name of Marion Williams, who appeared in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Frank Darabont's script introduced the idea of Marion Ravenwood returning as Indiana's love interest. Allen was not aware her character was in the script until Spielberg called her in Jan. 2007 (13 years ago), saying, "It's been announced! We're gonna make Indiana Jones 4! And guess what? You're in it!" Ford found Allen "one of the easiest people to work with [he's] ever known. She's a completely self-sufficient woman, and that's part of the character she plays. A lot of her charm and the charm of the character is there. And again, it's not an age-dependent thing. It has to do with her spirit and her nature." Allen found Ford easier to work with on this film, in contrast to the first film, where she slowly befriended the private actor.
  • Ray Winstone plays George "Mac" McHale, a British agent whom Jones worked alongside in World War II, but has now allied with the Russians due to his financial problems. The character acts as a spin on Sallah and René Belloq - Jones's friend and nemesis, respectively, in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Spielberg cast Winstone as he found him "one of the most brilliant actors around", having seen Sexy Beast. Winstone tore his hamstring during filming. "I keep getting these action parts as I’m getting older," he remarked. Like John Hurt, Winstone wished to see the script prior to committing to the film. In interviews on British TV Winstone explained that he was only able to read the script if it was delivered by courier, who waited while he read the script, and returned to the US with the script once Winstone had read it. His reasoning for wanting to read the script was, "If I'm gonna be in it, I want to be in it." He gave suggestions to Spielberg, including the idea of Mac pretending to be a double agent. He also stated that once filming was completed he had to return the script, such was the secrecy about the film. He was later presented with a copy of the script to keep.
  • John Hurt plays Harold "Ox" Oxley, Mutt's surrogate father and an old friend of Indiana, whom he lost contact with in 1937 (83 years ago). Six months prior to the events of the film, he went insane after discovering the crystal skull, which commanded him to return it to Akator. Frank Darabont had suggested Hurt when he was writing the screenplay. The character is inspired by Ben Gunn from Treasure Island. Hurt wanted to read the script before signing on, unlike other cast members who came on "because Steven — you know, 'God' — was doing it. And I said, 'Well, I need to have a little bit of previous knowledge even if God is doing it.' So they sent a courier over with the script from Los Angeles, gave it to me at three o'clock in the afternoon in London, collected it again at eight o'clock in the evening, and he returned the next day to Los Angeles."
  • Jim Broadbent plays Dean Charles Stanforth, an academic colleague and friend of Jones. Broadbent's character stands in for Marcus Brody, whose portrayer, Denholm Elliott, died in 1992 (28 years ago). As a tribute to Elliott, the filmmakers put a portrait and a statue on the Marshall College location, and a picture (wallpaper) on Jones' desk, saying he died shortly after Indiana's father.
  • Igor Jijikine plays the Russian Colonel Dovchenko. His character stands in for the heavily built henchmen Pat Roach played in the previous movies (Roach died in 2004 (16 years ago)).
  • Joel Stoffer and Neil Flynn cameo as FBI agents interrogating Indiana, in a scene following the opening sequence. Alan Dale plays General Ross, who protests his innocence. Andrew Divoff and Pavel Lychnikoff play Russian soldiers. Spielberg cast Russian-speaking actors as Russian soldiers so their accents would be authentic. Dimitri Diatchenko plays Spalko's right hand man who battles Indiana at Marshall College. Diatchenko bulked up to 250 pounds to look menacing, and his role was originally minor with ten days of filming. When shooting the fight, Ford accidentally hit his chin, and Spielberg liked Diatchenko's humorous looking reaction, so he expanded his role to three months of filming. Ernie Reyes, Jr. plays a cemetery guard.
  • Sean Connery (5 walls) turned down an offer to reprise his role as Henry Jones Sr., as he found retirement too enjoyable. Lucas stated that in hindsight it was good that Connery did not briefly appear, as it would disappoint the audience when his character would not come along for the film's adventure. Ford joked, "I'm old enough to play my own father in this one." The movie addresses Connery's absence by explaining that the character died sometime prior to the events of the movie and, like the late Denholm Elliot's character Marcus Brody, is depicted in a photograph on Jones' desk.


During the late 1970s, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg made a deal with Paramount pictures (wallpaper) for five Indiana Jones films. Following the 1989 (31 years ago) release of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Lucas let the series end as he felt he could not think of a good plot device to drive the next installment, and chose instead to produce The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which explored the character in his early years. Harrison Ford played Indiana in one episode, narrating his adventures in 1920 (100 years ago) Chicago. When Lucas shot Ford's role in dec. 1992 (28 years ago), he realized the scene opened up the possibility of a movie with an older Indiana set in the 1950 (70 years ago). The movie could reflect a science fiction 1950 (70 years ago) B-movie, with aliens as the plot device. Meanwhile, Spielberg believed he was going to "mature" as a filmmaker after making the trilogy, and felt he would just produce any future installments.

Ford disliked the new angle, telling Lucas "No way am I being in a Steve Spielberg movie like that." Spielberg himself, who depicted aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, resisted it. Lucas came up with a story, which Jeb Stuart turned into a script from Oct. 1993 (27 years ago) to May 1994 (26 years ago). Lucas wanted Indiana to get married, which would allow Henry Jones Sr. to return, expressing concern over whether his son is happy with what he has accomplished. After he learned that Joseph Stalin was interested in psychic warfare, he decided to have Russians as the villains and the aliens to have psychic powers. Following Stuart's next draft, Lucas hired Last Crusade writer Jeffrey Boam to write the next three versions, the last of which was completed in Mar. 1996 (24 years ago). Three months later, Independence Day was released, and Spielberg told Lucas he would not make another alien invasion film. Lucas decided to focus on the Star Wars prequels.

In 2000 (20 years ago), Spielberg's son asked when the next Indiana Jones movie would be released, which made him interested in reviving the project. The same year, Ford, Lucas, Spielberg, Frank Marshall, and Kathleen Kennedy met during the American movie Institute's tribute to Ford, and decided they wanted to enjoy the experience of making an Indiana Jones movie again. Spielberg also found returning to the series a respite from his many dark movies during this period. Lucas convinced Spielberg to use aliens in the plot by saying they were not "extraterrestrials", but "interdimensional", with this concept taking inspiration in the superstring theory. Spielberg and Lucas discussed the central idea of a B-movie involving aliens, and Lucas suggested using the crystal skulls to ground the idea. Lucas found those artifacts as fascinating as the Ark of the Covenant, and had intended to feature them for a Young Indiana Jones episode before the show's cancellation. M. Night Shyamalan was hired to write for an intended 2002 (18 years ago) shoot, but he was overwhelmed writing a sequel to a movie he loved like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and claimed it was difficult to get Ford, Spielberg, and Lucas to focus. Stephen Gaghan and Tom Stoppard were also approached.

Frank Darabont, who wrote various Young Indiana Jones episodes, was hired to write in May 2002 (18 years ago). His script, entitled Indiana Jones and the City of Gods, was set in the 1950s, with ex-Nazis pursuing Jones. Spielberg conceived the idea because of real life figures such as Juan Perón in Argentina, who protected Nazi war criminals. Darabont claimed Spielberg loved the script, but Lucas had issues with it, and decided to take over writing himself. Lucas and Spielberg acknowledged the 1950 (70 years ago) setting could not ignore the Cold War, and the Russians were more plausible villains. Spielberg decided he could not satirize the Nazis after directing Schindler's List, while Ford felt "We plum[b] wore the Nazis out."

Jeff Nathanson met with Spielberg and Lucas in Aug. 2004 (16 years ago), and turned in the next drafts in Oct. and Nov. 2005 (15 years ago), titled The Atomic Ants. David Koepp continued on from there, giving his script the subtitle Destroyer of Worlds, based on the J. Robert Oppenheimer quote. It was changed to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as Spielberg found it more inviting a title and actually named the plot device of the crystal skulls. Lucas insisted on the Kingdom part. Koepp's "bright [title] idea" was The Son of Indiana Jones, and Spielberg had also considered having the title name the aliens as The Mysterians, but dropped that when he remembered that was the name of a film. Koepp collaborated with Raiders of the Lost Ark screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan on the film's "love dialogue".


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull premiered at the Cannes movie Festival on May 18, 2008 (12 years ago), ahead of its worldwide May 22 release date. It was the first Spielberg movie since 1982's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to premiere at Cannes. The movie was released in approximately 4000 theaters in the United States, and dubbed into 25 languages for its worldwide release. More than 12,000 release prints were distributed, which is the largest in Paramount Pictures' history. Although Spielberg insisted his movies only be watched traditionally at theaters, Paramount chose to release the movie in digital cinemas as part of a scheme to convert 10,000 U.S. cinemas to the format.


The movie received mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% of critics gave the movie positive reviews, based on 239 reviews. The consensus was "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 reported the movie had a score of 65 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews", based on 40 reviews. Yahoo! estimated an average rating of B from 15 reviews. The Associated Press reported the movie received a "respectful – though far from glowing – reception," saying that "some viewers at its first press screening loved it, some called it slick and enjoyable though formulaic, some said it was not worth the 19-year wait...," adding that J. Sperling Reich, who writes for, said: "It really looked like they were going through the motions. It really looked like no one had their heart in it." USA Today stated reviews were "mixed" and reviewers felt the "movie suffers from predictable plot points and cheesy special effects". Roger Ebert gave the movie 3.5 stars out of 4, a rating he also gave to The Last Crusade. Ebert argued that the only critical criterion for judging the latest movie was comparing it to the previous three. He found it "same old, same old", but that was what "I want it to be." James Berardinelli gave the movie 2 stars out of 4, calling it "the most lifeless of the series" and "simply [not] a very good motion picture."

The Communist Party of the Russian Federation called for the movie to be banned, accusing the production team of demonizing the Soviet Union. Party official Andrei Andreyev said: "It is very disturbing if talented directors want to provoke a new Cold War." Another party official commented that "in 1957 (63 years ago) the USSR was not sending terrorists to America but sending the Sputnik satellite into space!" Spielberg responded that he is Russian, as his ancestors came from Ukraine, and explained: "When we decided the fourth installment would take place in 1957 (63 years ago), we had no choice but to make the Russians the enemies. World War II had just ended and the Cold War had begun. The U.S. didn't have any other enemies at the time." The film's depiction of Peru also received criticism from the Peruvian and Spanish-speaking public.

The mixed fanbase reaction did not surprise Lucas, who was familiar with mixed response to the Star Wars prequels. "We're all going to get people throwing tomatoes at us," the series' creator had predicted. "But it's a fun movie to make." Some fans of the franchise who were disappointed with the movie adopted the term "nuked the fridge", based on the scene in the film, to denote the point in a movie series when it has passed its peak and crossed into the level of the absurd, similar to "jumping the shark". This phrase has since appeared across the Internet, and was chosen as #5 on Time Magazine's list of "top ten buzzwords" of 2008 (12 years ago). South Park parodied the movie in the episode "The China Probrem", broadcast some five months after the film's release. David Koepp reflects, "I knew I was going to get hammered from a number of quarters [but] what I liked about the way the movie ended up playing was it was popular with families. I like that families really embraced it." A CinemaScore survey conducted during its opening weekend indicated a general "B" rating.

The movie was nominated for Best Action Movie at the 2009 (11 years ago) Critics' Choice Awards. The Visual Effects Society nominated it for Best Single Visual Effect of the Year (the valley destruction), Best Outstanding Matte Paintings, Best Models and Miniatures, and Best Created Environment in a Feature Motion picture (wallpaper) (the inside of the temple). It also won the Golden Raspberry Award for "worst prequel, remake, rip-off or sequel", despite being the most commercially successful of the nominees. The movie ranks 453rd on Empire magazine's 2008 (12 years ago) list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. At the 51st Grammy Awards, John Williams won an award for the Mutt Williams theme. It was nominated at the Saturn Awards for Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Costumes and Best Special Effects. It won Best Costumes.


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