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  • Awesome Music: About the only thing fans have agreed on about the movie is that John Williams’ music is as majestic, epic, and awesome as the early entries.
  • Contested Sequel: Some people say it is total crap, others say it was fun but not up to Indiana Jones standards, some liked the acting and characters but not the writing, some liked it all except for the Gainax Ending, Shia LaBeouf blames himself and his monkey-swinging Tarzan act, and then there are those that hold it as being better than Temple of Doom but not up to the standards of the "Nazi" movies.
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  • Critical Dissonance: Critics generally enjoyed it, while fans seem to loathe it. On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience score is lower than the critics score.
  • Delusion Conclusion: Owing to the contentious reputation of the film, a common theory is that the adventure is just Indy's Dying Dream after the infamous 'nuking the fridge' scene.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Irina Spalko. In her defense, she does have some genuine Anti-Villain-ish character traits but not enough to fully qualify for the trope.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Violently Protective Girlfriend of the jock Mutt decks is one of the film's most popular Bit Characters despite only having less than twenty seconds of screen time.
    • The two Bit Part Bad Guys in the opening scene who get into a drag race with some teenagers (and the teenagers themselves, for some) make the scene pretty entertaining for most fans, whether they like the movie as a whole or not.
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  • Fanfic Fuel: This installment definitively establishes that Indy was an active OSS agent for the entirety of World War II proper note , and that he spent around a decade spying against the Soviets with the CIA during the Cold War. That's around seventeen years of undocumented high-stakes adventures.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: As this is the most divisive entry in the franchise to date, there's a good number of Indy fans who like to pretend this film doesn't exist.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • This won't be the last time that John Hurt would portray a doctor involved with aliens.
    • At one point, Mutt makes a crack about Indy's advancing age, snidely asking "What are you, like, 80?" (Harrison Ford was actually 65 at the time). The fifth Indiana Jones film is slated to be released in June 2023—when Ford will be 80.
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  • Inferred Holocaust: The tribe that lived near the temple most likely were killed by the departing spacecraft or drowned by the river flooding the valley, had any members survived the massacre from the Russians.
  • It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: While many were miffed at the whole reveal that the MacGuffin was more sci-fi than supernatural and feeling it was a pull away from the original films, some criticism levied against the movie was that it was too similar and pretty much follow the same beats as Raiders... and The Last Crusade (even Fate of Atlantis) i.e.: Indy and his small group against a bigger military organization, the race to get to the target place before the bad guys and the bad guys being done in by what they were seeking. Yes it's traditional and likely a throwback, but many felt like it was just a copy and paste of those stories, only moving the timeline to the 50s and dealing with Soviets, with really the only original thing being Indy learning he has a son and reuniting with Marion. Heck, some reviews even praised the sci-fi twist because it at least tried to shake up the formula, and only argued there wasn't much explanation about the creatures and the sudden reveal being the reason why it leaves such a bad taste in a lot of fan's mouths, whereas in the previous films we get to learn about the MacGuffins in question during the adventure.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Orellana becomes this in the movie novelization, which expands on his backstory and motivations. He's a notorious greedy conquistador who loots Akator of its treasures. However, the further he takes the Crystal Skull from the city, the more guilt and madness he experiences, which makes him feel compelled to take the skull back. His companions don't share his feelings, and he is fine with letting them go until they try to take the skull, which causes him to murder all six of them. The killings leave him guilt-ridden and praying for forgiveness. Then, right as he's about to begin his journey back to Akator to return the skull, he's attacked and killed by the cemetery guardians, who he mistakes for demons out to take him to Hell. The guy didn't exactly start out with good intentions, but it's not hard to feel a little sorry for him.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Dr. Irina Spalko is a KGB agent and colonel of the Soviet Union, seeking the Crystal Skull and Temple housing it. Kidnapping Indiana Jones, she forces him to help locate a crate in Area 51, which he does but manages to escape. To lure Jones back, she kidnaps Mary and Ox, then allows Mary's son Mutt to deliver the message to Jones. After the duo find the Crystal Skull, she recaptures them and has him assist in deciphering Ox's riddles, before the heroes escape once more. Battling Jones' team through the dangerous Amazon, Spalko avoids the fate of several of her men killed by the jungle dangers, before finally catching up to Jones and returning the Skull to its rightful place where she is given the knowledge that she sought. Cunning and deadly but extremely respectful to her adversary, Spalko is among the most formidable of villains that Jones has ever faced.
  • Mis-blamed: Thanks to already being in a bad spot due to the polarizing reception of the Star Wars prequels, many fans blamed George Lucas for a lot of problems in the film.
    • Lucas gets blamed for the decision to make Soviets the villains rather than Nazis like in the previous films. In reality, due to the harrowing experience of making Schindler's List, Spielberg felt he could no longer make movies featuring Nazis as simply stock villains, although Harrison Ford's advanced age since the previous film also accounted for it.
    • Lucas only wrote the story draft (along with Jeff Nathanson), the one who wrote the screenplay was David Koepp. Indeed, most fans solely blame Lucas and Koepp for the story in spite of the fact that Koepp just wrote a screenplay based on the story that Lucas and Nathanson conceived, whereas Nathanson tends to not be criticized by fans.
    • Lucas was dead-set on having Indy survive a nuclear explosion by using a fridge as shelter, but he never said that the nuclear explosion had to be that close or that Indy should fly away in the fridge (one of the first scripts, Indiana Jones and the Saucermen from Mars, has Indy ducking in a foxhole and turning the fridge over his head as a cover). That belongs to Koepp and Spielberg.
    • Although Lucas had already eliminated the "Old Indy" bookends from the DVD version of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which showed 93-year-old Indy being cared for by a daughter, it was Spielberg who vetoed Indy having a daughter in this film, feeling that it would be a retread of Kelly and Ian Malcolm from The Lost World: Jurassic Park.
  • Narm: The scene where Indy survives a nuke by hiding in a fridge. Needless to say, a lot of fans weren't willing to suspend their disbelief that much.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The 1999 video-game Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine used Soviets as villains and featured Sufficiently Advanced Aliens from another dimension as a major plot point about nine years before this movie did.
    • Likewise the comic book adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which revealed the Atlantian technology was given to them by aliens.
    • The original script for Back to the Future from 1982 featured Marty McFly surviving a nuclear blast in a fridge-time machine, in order to return to the present. This was scrapped because it was too expensive to pull off, and there were concerns that kids who watched the movie might climb into abandoned refrigerators to "play Marty." If that sounds at all familiar, it's because Spielberg was also executive producer of that film, and also used the idea in an earlier version of the script in the earlier years of the franchise that was later adapted into this movie.
  • One True Pairing: There is one aspect of this movie about which pretty much everyone can agree, and that is that Karen Allen's return (and spot-on performance) as Marion Ravenwood is AWESOME.
  • Signature Scene: For better or for worse, the atom bomb scene, which stuck with the public consciousness so much that the phrase "nuking the fridge" became a synonym for "Sequelitis meets Jumping the Shark."
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The prairie dogs, the monkeys, and the aliens have been derided for this.
    • The first (overhead, panning) shot of the graveyard shows what is very obviously a miniature set, and the chase scene in the final act uses a good deal of conspicuous green screen as well.
    • The truck chase through the jungle was real, but was layered with so much CGI the real footage ends up looking fake and greenscreen-like.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: A common complaint of its disappointed viewers. Some long-term fans feel the shift away from supernatural/fantasy elements towards sci-fi and aliens was a move too far, as the 1950's sci-fi films being homaged in this film have aged very poorly in comparison to the two-fisted adventure serials referenced by the classic trilogy.
  • Vindicated by History: While this film as well as Temple of Doom are still regarded as the weakest entries in the series, time has shed most of the negative reception and reputation it once carried. Many elements once derided or seen as disrespectful to the original trilogy, such as the presence of aliens, have now been understood as an intentional homage to classic 50s Sci-Fi genre films, following in the footsteps of the trilogy which were homages to classic adventure pulp films. Meanwhile, other complaints, such as the overuse of CGI, are simply no longer seen as critically damaging to the film's quality as was originally assumed. Even the infamous "Nuke the Fridge" scene, while still an egregious example, has lessened as Indy surviving impossible scenarios and emerging unscathed is more or less commonplace for him. This is not even considering the genuine positives the film has to offer such as the reunion of the cast and crew of much of the Indiana Jones trilogy from Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and John Williams who were able to go on one last final adventure before giving Indiana Jones a Happy ending and Goodbye. In general, the film is not without its issues, but it has come a long way from the "Raped my Childhood" reputation it once had.

  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Shia LaBeouf's casting as Mutt wasn't well-received, as he hadn't exactly made a great name for himself among audiences in regards to his abilities or capability to be an Action Hero. The fact Mutt turned out to be Indy's son didn't help matters either.

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