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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Album Cover Art
2008 Regular
2008 Set
Album 2 Cover Art
Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:

Orchestrated by:
Eddie Karam
Conrad Pope

Performed by:
The Hollywood Studio Symphony

Hollywood Film Chorale
Labels Icon
Concord Music Group (Individual)
(May 20th, 2008)

Concord Records (Set)
(November 11th, 2008)
Availability Icon
The initial single CD album is a regular U.S. release. The 2008 set (called "The Soundtrack Collection") is a regular commercial product with a retail price of $60 but initally sold for $43 to $45 at primarily major online outlets.
The score and the track "The Adventures of Mutt" were both nominated for Grammy Awards.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... if you consider yourself any fan of John Williams or the Indiana Jones franchise whatsoever, for despite its flaws, this score is a fun encounter with an old friend.

Avoid it... if you require this score to rival the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark or be as coherent and memorable as any of the previous scores in the franchise.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 5/24/08, REVISED 12/28/08
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: (John Williams) Like the franchises for Conan the Barbarian and The Terminator, among others, speculation about yet another sequel in the Indiana Jones series long consumed fans through the 1990's and 2000's. The publicized reason for the 19-year delay since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade often involved perpetual revisions on a story penned by George Lucas, and a yearning by Lucas and director Steven Spielberg to perfect it before dragging a nearly senior-aged Harrison Ford back into the fold. Lucas didn't ultimately get his wish to allow aliens and UFO's to completely dominate the script, but their involvement caused many fans and critics to scratch their heads. With the lovable part-time professor and whip-cracking archeologist faced with a different set of villains in the 1950's, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shows a quest for the title's artifact of legend with new and old sidekicks and Russians in hot pursuit. The film's script, which has been the source of much of the criticism aimed at the production, attempted almost too hard to merge elements from the first and third films in the franchise (The Temple of Doom doesn't factor compared to the others) into the new material for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Between the plethora of references to Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade and Lucas' obsession with aliens, reaction to The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was often summarized by an affinity for seeing Indy continue his adventures, but a general disappointment with the material he had to work with. Both the reliance on the aforementioned two films in the franchise and the popular response to the film can also be applied to John Williams' score for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. After a flurry of motion picture production in 2005, the composer's attention strayed away from Hollywood for two years and gravitated towards classical writing, concert conducting, and, perhaps most famous, an original theme for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."

Anticipation from film score fans for Williams' return to both the big screen and, even more importantly, the Indiana Jones franchise, was as palpable as that of hardcore fans of the franchise itself. All three of the Indiana Jones scores had been nominated for Oscars, and the first is commonly considered a classic. Many collectors of Williams' works took the opportunity to rehash debates about how the maestro handled the long-awaited return to the Star Wars franchise in 1999. Perhaps more actively than in any of the Star Wars prequels, Williams relied on the themes and foundational structures of the first and third Indiana Jones scores to guide his work for the belated sequel. The ties between The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and what has come before are quite strong, and any fan requiring a firm set of musical references to the franchise should be very pleased. Four primary themes from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade all receive multiple performances in this newest installment, each generously stated and serving the story's continuous desire to make such connections. The composer also takes the opportunity to write a handful of new themes and motifs for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, giving the film so many thematic ideas through which to rotate that it maintains itself as a perpetually interesting study. If there is negative criticism to be aimed at this score, and there's certainly some merit to such mentions, it's not related to Williams' loyalty to the new and old themes. Instead, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a parade of friendly themes that don't particularly form a personality when viewed as a whole. The evidence of its clear duty as a sequel score is heard in the lengths to which the old themes are the heart and soul of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, rather than emphasizing the fresh themes to such an extent that the old ones are forced to adapt to the new style. In terms of maturation and development, this Indiana Jones score makes little attempt to steer the franchise's overall sound into a new realm. Of course, that applies to moments outside of the generally bizarre alien plot elements specific to this entry.

Some Williams collectors may be tempted to compare the somewhat aimless overall direction of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to the stream-of-consciousness style of score that Williams provided for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Indeed, both scores seem to lack an anchor with which to punctuate the end of their franchises (assuming this is the conclusion for both), making one wonder if there really was a "point A" and "point B" in either series of scores. But the similarities end with those generalities, however, for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a score far more at home in its franchise. It will likely be described as the weakest of the four Indiana Jones scores, but considering how high a standard such scores are held to, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is quite admirable. No matter how you cut it, this is not only John Williams music at its most adventurous, but despite whatever problems the new material may present to the listener, it's great to hear it in action once again. The more interesting debate about The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is not about the thematic choices that Williams made, but the execution of those ideas. The new themes are very well adapted into a variety of emotional circumstances, proving their versatility in nearly every major cue. The statement of the previous franchise themes is where the true debate exists, for many of the most obvious uses of those themes are seemingly lifted directly from Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade with only minor alterations. There are parts of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that seem like a "cut and paste" job while other parts that call out for treatment similar to identical situations in previous films are left hanging. This latter dilemma is likely the result of Williams' own maturation of compositional style; the days of overwhelmingly simplistic, easily graspable statements of rhythm and theme have been replaced by an even higher level of complexity. While it's now technically superior, sometimes a good musical punch to the face is best delivered without fancy tricks.

It should be mentioned before proceeding with this review that the 77-minute listening experience provided by the Concord Music Group on album is by no means representative of everything you hear in the film. While some fans have exclaimed their satisfaction with the album, others are bothered by the 35+ minutes of material absent from it. Evaluating a franchise score like The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a difficult proposition when based on the album alone; in this case, the presentation of the music on the product is badly rearranged, out of order, edited or in an alternate mix, mislabeled in a few cases, and entirely missing some of the most poignant references to previous material. With these circumstances in mind, most of this review will speak in general terms about the score's thematic usage. Tackling the new themes first, it needs to be mentioned that there is some debate about exactly how many new themes actually exist in formality. The most obvious idea exists for the mystery of the crystal skull concept. This theme is actually two motifs overlaid throughout most of the work; the first is an octave-spanning three-note progression repeated in hypnotic fashion by middle range instrumentation, while the second is a rhythmically-staggered six note motif of eerie atmosphere for the upper ranges. Williams states these ideas simultaneously over timpani and other bass region pounding that moves with the same hypnotic and deliberate stature as the three-note progression. The lack of synchronous movement in this pairing is quite effective, as is each of the two ideas when separated. The three-note motif exhibits the same tormenting attitude as Williams' similar theme for Lord Voldemort (introduced in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). The high-pitched rendering of the longer motif, along with the occasional choral accompaniment, accentuates the other-worldly nature of the artifact. Among Williams' fantasy themes involving unknown or alien elements, this is one of his most effectively frightening. This also, unfortunately, makes it a tougher experience on album.

Ratings Icon
Average: 3.7 Stars
***** 548 5 Stars
**** 446 4 Stars
*** 338 3 Stars
** 171 2 Stars
* 114 1 Stars
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Call of the Crystal
IHateFreedom - October 10, 2008, at 2:22 p.m.
1 comment  (1654 views)
Alternate review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at MMUK
Jonathan Broxton - September 15, 2008, at 1:17 a.m.
1 comment  (1662 views)
Academic Overture   Expand >>
Cortoisis - August 8, 2008, at 12:58 p.m.
6 comments  (5359 views)
Newest: November 6, 2008, at 3:31 a.m. by
My spelling errors from my last thread!   Expand >>
Trevor - August 2, 2008, at 10:47 a.m.
2 comments  (2618 views)
Newest: August 4, 2008, at 11:13 p.m. by
Williams pulled "Hornerism"   Expand >>
Trevor - August 2, 2008, at 10:36 a.m.
2 comments  (2711 views)
Newest: August 4, 2008, at 11:10 p.m. by
Love affair with John Williams   Expand >>
Theowne - July 6, 2008, at 11:14 a.m.
2 comments  (2850 views)
Newest: July 14, 2008, at 5:14 a.m. by
Kevin Smith

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
All Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 77:19
• 1. Raiders March (5:06)
• 2. Call of the Crystal (3:50)
• 3. The Adventures of Mutt (3:12)
• 4. Irina's Theme (2:26)
• 5. The Snake Pit (3:15)
• 6. The Spell of the Skull (4:24)
• 7. The Journey to Akator (3:08)
• 8. A Whirl Through Academe (3:34)
• 9. "Return" (3:12)
• 10. The Jungle Chase (4:23)
• 11. Orellana's Cradle (4:22)
• 12. Grave Robbers (2:29)
• 13. Hidden Treasure and the City of Gold (5:14)
• 14. Secret Doors and Scorpions (2:17)
• 15. Oxley's Dilemma (4:46)
• 16. Ants! (4:14)
• 17. Temple Ruins and the Secret Revealed (5:51)
• 18. The Departure (2:27)
• 19. Finale (9:20)
(Contents on CD4 of the set are identical to those of the previous product)

Notes Icon
The original, individual album is offered in the form of a slipcase digipak. Its removable insert contains the standard note from Spielberg about the score.

The set contains bloated packaging with extensive photography and short notes from the composer and director, but it surprisingly contains no analysis of the music itself.
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The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are Copyright © 2008, Concord Music Group (Individual), Concord Records (Set) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 5/24/08 and last updated 12/28/08.
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