Film: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Mutt Williams: You're a...teacher? Indiana Jones: Part time.
The fourth film in the Indiana Jones series, released in 2008.Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is set 19 years after the previous installment, during the Cold War, and begins with Indiana and his colleague, George 'Mac' McHale (Ray Winstone) being captured by Russian soldiers seeking a powerful artifact that the U.S. government is holding. Although the Russians, led by Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) obtain the artifact (a Crystal Skull of unknown origin), Indy manages to escape after a harrowing experience at a nuclear testing site in Nevada.However, the FBI accuse Indy of being a collaborator with the Russians, and he is even forced from his long-term teaching career due to the allegations. However, Indy quickly meets a leather-jacket wearing young man named "Mutt" Williams (Shia LeBeouf), who convinces Jones to go with him to South America and help him find an old friend.Indy and Mutt's journey eventually lead them to reunite with Indy's old lover, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), who had also been kidnapped by the Russians, and Professor Oxley (John Hurt), Jones' close associate who discovered the artifact and went slightly insane as a result. Now reunited with Marion, Indy decides to solve the mystery of the skull, which could have disastrous consequences.Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was finally put into production after having various ideas floated around in the 1990's. The film took inspiration from the pulp science fiction stories of the 1950's, and was set during the Cold War. The film also featured a score by John Williams and creature effects by Stan Winston (in one of his last projects).The film received mostly positive reviews from critics, and earned $786 million from the worldwide box office. The movie also received criticism for its extraterrestial creature-influenced plot and an infamous scene where Indy uses a lead-lined refrigerator to escape a nuclear blast.A fifth film is rumored to be in the works, although details are currently unknown.
The crystal skull and the story about returning all 13 of them to some place for... something. They even mention Mitchell-Hedges. What they don't mention is that the three known skulls are now proven hoaxes, as is the story of the 13 skulls.
Artificial cranial deformation in ancient Native Americans.
The Soviets' interest in parapsychology, although it was more popular before Stalin's death in 1953.
And yes, the "Kung Fu Aztecs" guarding the graveyard did have a basis in fact; the Martial-Art of Rumi Maki (literally "Hard Hands") has been practiced amongst Aztecs centuries before the arrival of Cortez.
Amphibious Automobile: A GAZ 46 MAV (Soviet copy of the Ford GPA) is used as a getaway car down a river and over three waterfalls.
Ancient Astronauts: The titular "kingdom" of aliens are referenced as such, although it is never elaborated upon.
Arbitrary Skepticism: Indy dismisses the Crystal Skull as "just a story". Like the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, right? His skeptical attitude toward the Ark is also bit odd considering that he'd already been exposed to genuine supernatural phenomena in Temple of Doom, but that's more of a continuity issue.
Of course, he might have just been messing with his captors. Being uncooperative with the enemy seems to be a specialty of his. Or he knows this sort of thing is real but also knows that a lot of stories like that really are just stories.
Area 51: It turns out that this (here called "Hangar 51") is where the U.S. government stores most of the dangerous ancient phlebotinum that Indy finds. And Indiana Jones himselfwas called in to help investigate the Roswell Incident.
Bowdlerise: In the Russian dub, all mentions of "Russians" and "Russia" were replaced with "Communists" and "USSR". However, Russian names and backgrounds of the villains were kept intact, thereby (inadvertently) making the film more accurate - Soviet intelligence personnel (whom are the only ones portrayed in the film) came from multiple republics, not just Russia, even in this time period, like L. Beria, who as interior minister before the film's setting. They would certainly be party members or Soviet citizens. Note that even Irina Spalko is said to be from Ukraine not Russia.
Bus Crash: It's stated that Henry Jones Sr. passed away sometime between Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Crystal Skull. This is because Sean Connery was offered a cameo role, but didn't want to come out of retirement. The same scene reveals Marcus Brody died shortly afterward, because Denholm Elliot had died shortly after making the third film.
Butt Monkey: Mutt goes through a lot of abuse, as he gets punched by overprotective girlfriends, stung by scorpions, and knocked off moving jeeps.
The establishing shots of Marshall College (when Indy returns after being debriefed by the FBI) are replicated from the same shots seen at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, down to the music, the passing car and a shot of the dean walking into the classroom where Indy is teaching.
The music heard during the warehouse escape sequence is the exact same piece used during the escape from the Hovitos in Raiders.
During the graveyard sequence, a guard shoots a poisoned dart at Mutt that sticks in a shovel, much like the scene in Raiders where Indy's torch is hit by a dart as he's attempting to reach the golden idol.
The scene where Indy, Marion and Mutt argue about personal issues before taking out a guard is identical to a similar scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Indy and Henry argue about their personal issues before taking out a pair of guards.
Indy gets angry at Mutt when he realizes he brought him Oxley's note with him, just like how in Last Crusade, his father was angry when he realized Indy brought the grail diary with him.
The Joneses performing a motorcycle escape again.
Indy finds an important clue on the floor at the last known location of Ox, just like in Last Crusade, when Indy was at the Venice library, the last known location of his Dad toward the beginning.
Mutt laughing at the Soviet spies after they crash, while Indy looks on unamused, is similar to how in Last Crusade, Indy laughs after taking down a Nazi motorcyclist as his father looks unamused. Although Indy's unamused because they crashed into a statue of Marcus Brody.
Mac dies because of his greed, just like Elsa did in Last Crusade. Indy asking him to give him a hand is also a Call Back to this scene.
Indy and Mutt have a conversation at a malt shop. In Last Crusade, Indy says the last time he and Henry Sr. had a drink together, it was (presumably) at a malt shop, as Indy says "I had a milkshake". This becomes more apparent after Indy and Mutt learn that they're, respectively, father and son.
Canon Immigrant: Partial example. The Russians first interfered with Indy in one of the games before they were used for Crystal Skull.
Casual Danger Dialog: Doctor Jones pauses to give scholarly advice to a student after Mutt's motorcycle crashes through the college library. Bonus points for the obscure Stealth Pun; the advice given (while being hotly pursued by a couple of Communist mooks) is to read Vere Gordon Childe, a passionate and well-known Marxist.
Chekhov's Skill: Early on, Mutt establishes that he learned the art of fencing before dropping out of school. This comes in handy later when he discovers a pair of swords in the back of the group's escape vehicle during the forest chase scene, and uses one to spar with Spalko as the cars race through the forest.
City of Gold: Akator is the local name for the mythical lost city El Dorado.
The Ark of the Covenant is revealed as Indy exits the warehouse after the truck chase sequence.
Indy mentions to Mutt that he ran away from home and joined Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution when he was a teenager. This happened in the pilot episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
At one point, Indy tells Mutt that his plan to distract the Russians at the campsite is "intolerable", just like Henry Jones said several times to Indy in the previous film.
In The Last Crusade Indiana teaches that seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library. By 1957 his thinking has evolved and it's more in touch with his actions; he remarks that a good archeologist is the one who gets out of the library and does field work.
Development Gag: Oddly enough the gag actually calls back to the development of Back to the Future — originally, the climax of getting Marty McFly back, well, to the future, was that Doc Brown was going to take him and a refrigerator to an A-Bomb test, and let the bomb's effects send him back to his rightful time. However, Spielberg was uncomfortable with the idea, concerned that kids might climb into abandoned fridges to play-act the scene, and so asked Robert Zemeckis to find a different approach, which he did once it proved too expensive to pull off. However, no good idea goes unpunished, as guess what iconic scene occurs in this movie?
Diner Brawl: Indy and Mutt start a brawl in a diner in order to get away from the KGB.
Dirty Communists: The bad guys of the film. Spalko actually states that her obsession with it is due to the aliens possessing a Hive Mind. Just as Belloq desired the Ark of the Covenant because it is "a radio for speaking to God", Spalko wants to find the Kingdom for a Commie Assimilation Plot. (As you might expect, Russia was very upset by this movie. Spielberg tried to justify using Russians as villains by saying that the United States didn't have any other enemies during the time period.)
Double Entendre: Irina to Mutt: "You fight like a young man; eager to begin, quick to finish!"
Genre Shift / Genre Throwback: Where the previous three films were heavily based on the pulp adventure serials of the '30s and '40s, this one is derived in part from the pulp sci-fi of the '50s. The project was also partially developed by Lucas.
Giant Mook: Igor Jijikine as the big Russian colonel, Dovchenko.
Gory Discretion Shot: The massacre of the American soldiers at the beginning of the film by the Russians is only seen in a distant shot after most of them have been downed.
Mutt: (regarding elongated skulls on skeletons) Why are they like that? Indy: Incans would bind the heads of their infants with rope. Mutt: (horrified) Why would they do that? Indy: To honor the gods. Mutt: No! No! God's head does not look like that! Indy: That depends on who your god is.
Hollywood Magnetism: When Indy needed to find the location of a magnetic crate, he threw gunpowder in the air and watched which way it moved. Later on, this trope is lampshaded when an object attracts gold coins, which are decidedly not magnetic.
How Unscientific!: Inverted, as the first three films feature magical artifacts, and then Crystal Skull features interdimensional beings, suddenly becoming "How Scientific!"
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: When told to drop his gun, Indy (purposely) manages to shoot one of the communists in the foot when it hits the floor.
I Know Karate: Subverted. After Mutt grabs the titular cranium, Spalko busts out previous unseen and unmentioned martial arts moves — and sucks at it. At most, it seems like it's annoying Mutt.
Its Pronounced Tropay: For some reason, college professor Dr. Henry Jones pronounces nuclear "nuke-yoo-lur".
He's an archaeology professor. Consider that the technique of carbon dating only debuted eight years before the events of the film and use of geophysics for archaeological surveys are only just getting off the ground in the United Kingdom, Indy has barely needed to study physics for most of his career.
Late Arrival Spoiler: In the film, Marion's reveal a third of the way through is meant to take Jones (and the audience) by surprise. Of course, that didn't stop Paramount from including the character on the official poster for the film and heavily publicizing Karen Allen's involvement with the project.
Her name also appears in the credits shown during the opening scene.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: At least twice during the scene with the ants, an ant is squished and the blood that shoots out lands on the camera.
Logo Joke: Cutting from the Paramount mountain to a prairie dog mound.
Luke, You Are My Father: Mutt. Oddly enough, early promotional materials claimed that the film would feature Indiana Jones and son on an adventure. This was retconned into Mutt being a young friend just so they could try and surprise audiences during the film.
Made of Iron: Despite being older, Indy endures more punishment than ever before. He flies backwards into a truck and crashes through the windshield, survives inside a lead-lined fridge when it's tossed end-over-end out of the blast zone and tries to beat The Dragon (who's seemingly larger than he is) while getting punched repeatedly. The rest of the cast (especially Oxley) exhibit this when they survive the trip over three waterfall drops with nothing more than shaken nerves.
Meaningful Name: "Mutt" Williams' nickname is an early hint that he's related to Indiana, who took his own nickname from his dog's name.
Of course, Mutt claimed that he made the nickname up himself, and he had never known that Indy was his father until The Reveal (or even who he was until the beginning of the film) so it was probably just a coincidence, at least in-story.
Mind Rape: The crystal skull aliens killed the villainess with knowledge.
-and tearing her a new hole in spacetime.
Mister Sandman Sequence: Right at the start; defiant youngsters on the road taunting other drivers, with Elvis' Hound Dog as the soundtrack.
Mood Dissonance: In the Nevada bomb testing scene, the mood quickly goes from comical (Indy stumbles over mannequins and falls over a bicycle placed on the road) to disturbing (the nuclear blast countdown and Indy's reaction to it).
Or how Indy was able to survive a nuclear explosion, while hiding in a fridge.
Noodle Incident: What Indiana did as an OSS intelligence officer During the War implies the existence of a full noodle warehouse. Many medal-worthy actions are alluded to and a Berlin cover mission is invoked by Mac. Plus his involvement in the Roswell Incident.
Painted-On Pants: Irina Spalko. For the most part, her whole outfit is just tight enough to have a fanservice feel to it, but there are moments where her pants look painted-on tight, like when she crushes a huge ant with her knees.
Played straight with Marion.
Passing the Torch: Subverted. At the end of the film, a gust of wind blows Indy's hat to Mutt's feet, the idea being that Indy is going to retire from archaeology and Mutt is gonna take his place. But as Mutt is about to put the hat on, Indy scoops it out of his hands and puts it on; Indy's never gonna quit looking for treasures.
Quicksand Sucks: Indy and Marion get caught in it, although Indy explains that it's actually "dry sand". It's also when Marion tells Indy Mutt is his son. Truth in Television though as very dry fine sand is actually very fluid. It's only when wet or rough that sand will stick.
Reality Ensues: The first clue that the Crystal Skull is no ordinary magnet is the Mutt's reminder that gold wouldn't stick to one.
This could also explain the way the gunpowder finds its way to the skull in the opening sequence, with Indy not applying shoddy hollywood science but exploiting the unique property he knew about from his work with the skull.
This also is shown in the rampant paranoia of the time, with the two FBI agents who question Indy insinuating that he's a communist sympathizer and traitor, even though it's also pointed out that he's both a War Hero and one of the most highly decorated people in the entire country.
Which is emphasized by his former CO, General Ross, who clearly believes that the obsession over the Red Scare is absurd, and tries to convince them that Indy is innocent. It doesn't help much.
Secret Legacy: Henry Jones III has at least a passing interest in archaeology as well, although part of that seems to be that his mother likes hanging around with archaeologists since her father was one as well.
Sequel Gap: Both in-universe and in real life, 19 years have passed between the movies.
Took a Level in Badass: Marian has graduated from throwing the occasional punch at her captors to driving an amphibious transport off a cliff and onto a tree, then letting the tree snap back and smack into the cliff-climbing Mooks behind her.
She was pretty badass in "Raiders", though. She shot that guy in her bar, and she took out a whole truck full of soliders with an aircraft mounted machine gun.
Touched by Vorlons: Oxley and Irina. The latter's brain painfully overloads from the aliens granting her wish - knowledge of everything.
Trilogy Creep: The Last Crusade ends with Indy & co. Riding into the Sunset because Spielberg thought it would the end. He later admits in the DVD interviews for Crystal Skull that he initially had no interest in reviving the franchise until he was convinced by George Lucas to add an additional installment.
Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Indy gets involved in a motorcycle chase that crashes into the library of the school he works at. One student only notices this in the context of "hey, there's the professor, let's ask him about that question on the homework".