Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
|Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a 2008 American adventure film. It is the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise, created by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. Released nineteen years after the previous film, the film acknowledges its star Harrison Ford’s age by being set in 1957. 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.
Screenwriters Jeb Stuart, Jeffrey Boam, Frank Darabont and Jeff Nathanson wrote drafts before David Koepp’s script satisfied the producers. Shooting began on June 18, 2007 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 film 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, and was a financial success, grossing over $786 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of the franchise, the second highest-grossing film of 2008 and the third highest-grossing film ever produced by Lucasfilm when not adjusted for inflation, after Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
In 1957, World War II hero 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 1950s Area 51 in Nevada and force Indiana to find a crate containing the remains of an extraterrestrial being that crashed ten years prior in Roswell, New Mexico. After finding the crate, Mac double-crosses Indiana, having been bought off by the Soviets. After a fight with the Soviets, Indiana manages to escape into the desert (though not before the crate containing the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark is revealed in the same warehouse). He then stumbles upon a nuclear test town and survives a nuclear explosion by hiding in a lead-lined refrigerator. He is later 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 Native 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, 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 interdimensional being 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. Indiana, Marion, Mutt and Oxley manage to escape from the Soviets into the Amazon. However they are recaptured again and with their hands tied taken to the temple through the Rainforest. They argue so much that the Soviet Colonel finally gags Marion with a cloth between her teeth, however while this is happening Indiana and Mutt knock him out by kicking him. Indiana frees himself with a hidden knife Mutt has. He cuts Mutt loose, ungags Marion, and Mutt then frees her. Indiana then throws the driver from the vehicle and takes control. Mutt then proves his remarkable fencing abilities as he engages Spalko in a swordfight while Indiana engages the Soviet Colonel in a fight. Mac rejoins them claiming he is actually a CIA double agent working against the Soviets.
All five head for the temple of Akator, only to be attacked by the Soviets again, but they manage to escape due to a nest of extremely aggressive siafu ants. On surviving an attack by the Ugha warriors defending Akator, they enter the temple. Mac, who is actually still loyal to the Soviets, secretly leaves a trail for the Soviets to follow. Inside the temple, they find artifacts from several ancient global civilizations. Indiana deduces that the creatures were kindred spirits: they too were “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth. The five enter a chamber containing the crystal skeletons of thirteen interdimensional beings seated on thrones in a circle, one missing a crystal skull. After the Soviets arrive, Spalko places the skull onto the headless skeleton. The interdimensional beings begin communicating to the group through Oxley in an ancient dialect, promising to reward them with a “big gift”. Spalko approaches and demands to “know everything”. The interdimensional being skeletons 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 living, single interdimensional being which overwhelms Spalko with its knowledge, causing her to disintegrate. Her scattered essence is then drawn into the portal. The temple crumbles and a flying saucer rises from the debris to disappear into the “space between spaces”. After they return home, Indiana and Marion are married as he is reinstated and made an associate dean at Marshall College. At the wedding’s conclusion, a sudden wind bursts through the church doors and blows Indiana’s hat onto the floor, at Mutt’s feet. Mutt picks it up, and starts to put it on his head, only to have Indiana quickly grab it out of his hand to place it onto his own head as he and his wife walk down the aisle.