‘Indiana Jones 4’: everything that is still good about ‘The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’, what did not work and what can the fifth do to avoid falling into the same traps as Steven Spielberg

Shooting an Indiana Jones movie almost 20 years after the end of the trilogy seemed like a good idea, but the more time passes from the release of ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skullthese types of sequels seem more like a red flag and now his memory returns thanks to the anticipation ‘Indiana Jones and the dial of fate‘, which opens in June.

Now there are 15 years that have elapsed between sequels. Only 4 less than those who passed between the fourth and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ (1989), and again, like that time, it has been a period full of rumors, false starts and stops. Only now the original director, Steven Spielberg, hasn’t returned and his co-writer, George Lucas, has also stayed away from his creation.

The fourth was a box office success, grossing $790.6 million against a budget of $180 million, was generally well received by critics upon release, and most agreed that, without reinventing the wheel, it delivered and was fun. In fact, it maintains 78% in Rotten TomatoesAlthough now, we have the memory that she was rejected and mistreated too much, and it didn’t take long for voices to come out that begin to reevaluate her.

On the eve of the new installment, now many have discovered that the previous maybe it wasn’t so bad and there is some vindication to remove the ghosts of fans and casual viewers who have placed the film on lists of worst or most disappointing sequels for the past fifteen years. Some even talk about Steven Spielberg’s worst movie. The truth is that after this wave of recognition, seeing the film from the present makes the good things continue to be there, but that your problems have only become more obvious with time.

The alien problem

You have to start from the foundations to understand that this is not fortuitous. Frank Darabont originally wrote a draft called ‘Indiana Jones and the City of Gods’ featuring a fallible hero who would get drunk and have a hard time fighting while searching for the city of Atlantis. Lucas totally rewrote the script with David Koepp, who was never quite convinced. of adding aliens, and they added Mutt, and made Indy not shoot anyone and barely use his whip.

Part of the reason Spielberg was so hesitant to return as a director was due to the Lucas’s insistence on “interdimensional beings”, which he renamed as such to convince his friend that they were not visitors from another world, even though they were in a UFO and look like typical aliens like the ones his ally popularized in his third phase. This made sense narratively, as it takes place in the ’50s, but it’s a core part of why the director isn’t very inspired. The same recognized it in 2011, “elegantly” leaving the responsibility of the result in Lucas:

“I didn’t want these things to be aliens or interdimensional beings. But I’m loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story that he believes in, even if I don’t believe in it, I’ll shoot the movie the way George envisioned it. I’ll add My own touches, I’ll bring my own cast, I’ll shoot the way I want to, but I’ll always refer to George as the narrator of the Indy series.”

alien 1

Don’t lose your composure and It is impossible to ignore that we are talking about a movie by one of the greats, and as such, it is full of good moments.Like the Area 51 scene and everything that goes on at Marshall College, the setting, the musical taste, and of course, the action. The sequence where Indy fistfights a Russian thug with the deadly ants lurking around lets you see the camera hold steady and let you see the action. Now, many of those scenes are shot with scrambled cameras, dribbling shots, and gibberish editing.

A story without a hook

Also, the warehouse sequence is one of the funniest in the entire franchise. Harrison Ford also returns to the role with dignity and improved most of his projects of that decade. It was also a good idea to cast Cate Blanchett, who wrote a fantastic villain. But Spielberg lost control when he let Lucas run the project. There are giddy moments, like the one in the fridge, which were the director’s responsibility, but at least it’s funny.

However, the problems have not been solved with time, but have aged. The script is a collection of concepts from the saga, and it seems that the production was rushed, and that Spielberg had no projects since 2005 or until 2011. Producer Kathleen Kennedy acknowledged it publicly in 2022:

“Everyone wanted to make a great movie. And sometimes you hit it perfectly and sometimes you don’t. In the case of ‘Indy 4,’ I don’t think there was anything specific that any of us remembered, except that we might not have had a as strong a story as we wanted.”


Collecting, ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ it’s full of some pretty terrible moments, even Janusz Kaminski’s photography doesn’t measure up. There are shots of the filming set and scenarios instead of real environments that are very noticeable, there are scenes that are conceived as a platform video game and, in general, the influence of George Lucas stuffed with technology from the prequel trilogy of technology is very noticeable. ‘Star Wars’.

The Jar Jars of Indiana Jones

The excess of CGI is noticeable, and now he sings a lot more. It wasn’t particularly impressive when the movie came out, but by today’s standards it’s terrible. And not only because of the rendering or the textures, it is the use, the arbitrariness of it. From the beginning there is something that clashes with the rest of the films in the trilogy. The Paramount logo fades into a little bunch with a digital prairie dog. The balance of puppies ends with three scenes with them throughout the film.


This is followed by CG waterfalls, digital monkeys, a liana scene that looks like it’s from a bad video game, ants eating a villain, a retouched sword fight… some things seem to be done out of habit. But in general, there is a feeling that the sequel is diluting in interest, tension and pulp adventurous spirit to something more confined to what was a blockbuster of its era, not the best for commercial cinema.


And this is one of the many challenges James Mangold faces as Spielberg as a director in the next Indiana Jones movie. From what can be seen in the trailer, there is no less “digital veneer” and green screen scenes, and to some extent it looks like another blockbuster. But with applying some of the earthy atmosphere of his ‘Logan‘ and the tangible reality of the dizzying ‘Ford vs Ferrari‘ could lead to the fourth part, especially if the script has managed to rescue part of the entity of the first parts, without completely losing its sense of humor. It does not seem easy to achieve such a balance.

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‘Indiana Jones 4’: everything that is still good about ‘The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’, what did not work and what can the fifth do to avoid falling into the same traps as Steven Spielberg

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