It’s common knowledge that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the franchise’s low point. Though Crystal Skull‘s addition of aliens was a controversial choice, it wasn’t actually the film’s biggest issue. In reality, the fourth Indiana Jones film’s problems are actually far more complex than they might seem.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull follows the adventurer as he attempts to recover the titular skull. It also sees Indy join forces with his son, Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), in order to rescue old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Unfortunately, the film’s final twist makes for one of the worst movie endings of all time. It turns out that the skull is alien in nature, and the aliens need it back.

Though Crystal Skull‘s aliens were blamed for its bad ending, they aren’t why the Indiana Jones movie failed to impress. In many ways, aliens were the least of Crystal Skull‘s problems: it’s actually a film with much bigger issues. In fact, to understand Crystal Skull‘s issues, it’s necessary to look a little deeper.

Crystal Skull’s Aliens Were The Logical Next Step For The Indiana Jones Franchise

Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull holding an alien skull

It’s thought that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s aliens are bad. However, this isn’t entirely true: they actually worked well within the context of the franchise. The first three films saw Indy wield divine supernatural powers, so including extraterrestrials isn’t too big a stretch.

In fact, using technologically advanced aliens as a plot device matches the previous film’s ideas, albeit in an unexpected way. Crystal Skull reveals that the aliens were worshipped by early humans, making them gods of a sort. This allows for Crystal Skull‘s story to walk the same thematic ground as previous movies: the intersection of history, faith, and science. In that regard, Crystal Skull‘s aliens were the right choice. So what went wrong?

Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull Was Still Bad (Just Not For The Reasons You Think)

Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko and Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is undeniably a bad movie, but the film’s sci-fi twist is often unfairly blamed for it. It’s actually bad for a number of much smaller reasons, many of them related to the script and visual presentation of the film. As well as having a truly ridiculous name, the character of Mutt Williams is poorly-written and consistently irritating. He exists to fill the sidekick role and little else, and that makes him feel unnecessary and aggravating.

What’s more, Crystal Skull is plagued by awful CGI. Various sequences in the movie are brought to life with poor-quality visuals, and that cheapens the overall experience. There’s also the matter of the film’s wooden script, which simply doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors. Ultimately, though there are many reasons that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a bad movie, its aliens really aren’t at fault.