Film in Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Updated August 5, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released in 2008 as the fourth movie in the Indiana Jones adventure film series. Find plot summary, character synopses, and world history below.

by Mark Hughes

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Indiana Jones Returns!

With his trademark fedora, whip, and wry grin, Indiana Jones returns to theaters with a bang in his biggest adventure yet! This time he's in search of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This fourth installment in the franchise has been crafted to attract old fans and new. Indeed, nostalgic boomers are packing theaters with the grandkids in tow.

The ageless Harrison Ford reprises his role as Doctor Jones, aka Indiana Jones, aka Henry Jones Jr. Although nearly 20 years have elapsed since the last installment of the series, 1989's The Last Crusade, Ford still convincingly portrays the adventure-loving archeologist who is deathly afraid of snakes.

Set in 1957 during the early years of the Cold War, the film makes many references to earlier installments, including the first movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Characters such as Marion Ravenwood, not seen since Raiders, return to help Indiana in his latest adventure. Paying close attention will reward the audience with glimpses of the Ark of the Covenant - stored in 1936 by the United States government in Area 51 at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The reunion of Steven Spielberg, who directed Raiders, and George Lucas, who wrote the story, also lends a connection to the debut film of the series.

Allies and Enemies of Indiana Jones

Karen Allen returns as Marion Ravenwood, whose spunky nature and love of exploration and adventure make her a kindred spirit of Indiana Jones. She also has a surprise in store for Indiana. New characters played by John Hurt and Shia LaBeouf round out his allies.

Cate Blanchett, a newcomer to the series, plays Indiana Jones' adversary as the Soviet Col. Irina Spalko. She leads her battalion into the United States, venturing through Area 51 before heading to the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a hidden region deep within the mountainous terrain of Peru and the Amazon River.

Who Would Enjoy It?

People of all ages, from 6 to 80, were sitting on the edge of their seats throughout the film, swept up in the adventure, laughing with the jokes, cringing from snakes and man-eating ants. This entertaining romp certainly thrilled the audience and is certain to rake in millions at the box office.

What was the Cold War and who were KGB Agents?

Many people who saw Raiders of the Lost Ark in theaters in 1981 also lived through a period of time known as the Cold War - a half-century of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union (now the Russian Federation) that lasted from 1945 to 1989. The "cold" part of the name refers to the fact that there was massive tension between the two countries, but all-out-war never took place. Considering that each had atomic and nuclear weapons in their arsenal, a true war would have been devastating for both countries.

KBG Agents were similar to CIA agents in the United States. The words spy, espionage, double-agents (which means working for both sides) are often associated with the KBG and CIA.

What Is Area 51?

Area 51 actually exists. It is a top secret military base in Nevada. No one, except for the people involved, knows what actually goes on there, but theories abound. Theories range from the base being a testing ground for super advanced aircrafts to it being a landing facility for extraterrestrial crafts. Stories about Area 51 began circulating in 1947, around the time citizens of Roswell, New Mexico, claimed to have seen an alien spacecraft crash. It is commonly believed that the ship and the bodies of the crew were taken to Area 51 for examination and to prevent news of extraterrestrial life from leaking out to the public.

Thumbs Up or Down?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a must-see! It will thrill both longtime fans and newcomers to the series. Steven Spielberg uses his masterful skill to create scenes rich in texture. Much like the previous films, the movie makes use of the latest special effects to add magic and jaw-dropping suspense. It would be hard to leave this movie and not feel the tingle of having experienced a truly great adventure

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