Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Does This Divisive Sequel Still Nuke the Fridge?

In Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Revisited, we look back on the most divisive sequel in the famed adventure franchise.

Steel yourselves for adventure, drag a Coca-Cola-soaked comb through your coif, and stand at least two miles away from the mushroom cloud because we’re looking back on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!

Fifteen years before Indy turns the Dial of Destiny, the unflinching archaeologist embarks on the most contentious mission of his fabled career to recover a telepathic crystal skull before a squad of KGB agents, led by Cate Blanchett’s Irina Spalko, can use the jeweled remains to unlock the secrets of mind-controlling knowledge. Peppered with triple-crosses, death-defying acts of derring-do, and ill-fated attempts at passing the torch, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds the saga at a technological crossroads, with much of the franchise’s on-location magic replaced with CGI environments and rubber snakes.

The trek toward bringing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to screens is fraught with setbacks, pitfalls, and disagreements about the franchise’s future. While researching angles for the story, George Lucas discovered Joseph Stalin’s infatuation with psychic warfare. Unfortunately, Spielberg remained unconvinced of the story’s direction and tabled the project for an extended period. After getting a few films out of their systems, Steven Speilberg and Lucas returned to the drawing board, using psychic warfare and superstring theory as a stepping stone toward a bigger picture.

With Indy and Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) reunited, Shia LaBeouf joins the production as the couple’s bull-headed greaser son, Mutt. The divisive character rubbed some fans wrong, fearing Mutt would take up the torch after Ford’s inevitable franchise retirement. Fate had other plans for Mutt, but we’ll save that for our forthcoming video concerning Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Despite arriving 19 years after Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeIndiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull retains the trilogy’s courageous spirit. John Williams’ evolution of classic themes is thrilling, with the legendary composer cutting loose after being away from the franchise for nearly two decades. At its core, Crystal Skull reminds me of how fun and outlandish the Indiana Jones films can be. I could do without Mutt’s Tarzan routine as much as the next hater, but I’ve forgiven better films for far worse.

Is Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the lowest point in the franchise? Or is the Indiana Jones franchise like cinematic pizza? Even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Revisited is written and narrated by Steve Seigh, with video edits by Ric Solomon.


About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.