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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. Expect at least one review to speak positively about this aspect.
  • 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. Really, it isn't broken so much as shattered into thousands of pieces.
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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 A Leather Dress: Irina Spalko. In her defense, she does have some genuine AntiVillain-ish character traits but not enough to fully qualify for the trope.
  • 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.
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  • Fanon Discontinuity: Since this is to Indiana Jones as the prequels were to Star Wars in terms of divisiveness, there's a good number of Indy fans who like to pretend this film doesn't exist.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: As annoying as people find Mutt, he's a better son to a Harrison Ford character than Kylo Ren.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Early drafts had Mutt as a girl; seven years later, Harrison Ford returned to another iconic role, playing a father-figure to a budding Action Girl hero, and even passes on a cherished keepsake to her at the end. Most fans agree that one was much more successful.
    • For all the flak the reveal of the crystal skull belonging to a race of interdimensonal beings got, most probably don't realize that it was actually used first in an early Indy story, the comic adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis which revealed that most of the technology the Atlantians had were given to them by aliens.
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  • Inferred Holocaust: The tribe that lived near the temple most likely were killed by the departing spacescraft 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 most 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) ie: 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 cause it 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 film we get to learn about the MacGuffins in question during the adventure.
  • 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 that Koepp just wrote an screenplay based on the story that Lucas and Nathanson conceived, whereas Nathanson is not criticized by any fans.
    • Lucas was deadset 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 years-old Indy being cared 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, nobody was 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.
  • 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: A Badass Biker 50's Greaser-type who's also a fearsomely talented fencer (and also Indy's son) should have been so much cooler than Mutt ended up being.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Indy's struggles with old age actually could have made for some genuinely compelling drama, and they could have been the basis for evolving the character into an Old Soldier who has to rely on his smarts. In the final product, though, Indy seems so unrealistically invincible that the movie feels more like an excuse for Ford and co. to play out their "older guy hero" fantasies.
    • Some fans were actually perfectly fine with the idea of moving Indy into a Cold War setting, and argue that the Soviets, the aliens, and the Badass Biker sidekick gave the movie all the makings of an awesome 1950's throwback. The problem? Instead of bringing in the practical effects to make the Genre Throwback feel authentic, they loaded it up with CGI that made it look like just another generic 2000's sci-fi blockbuster. It didn't exactly help that they cast Shia LaBeouf right after he'd become known for his role in Michael Bay's Transformers.
    • Russia is a very old country with a very long and rich history which makes it an ideal setting for an Indiana Jones movie, and it would have been especially appropriate for an Indiana Jones movie set during the Cold War with Soviets as villains. Indy not going to Russia at all is a bit of a letdown.
  • 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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