EDITORIALS

Ken's Nostalgic Indiana Jones Adventure - Part 2!

by
May 21, 2008

Ken's Nostalgic Indiana Jones Adventure

During my Indiana Jones marathon last Saturday, I noticed more about these three films than I ever had before. I really started to break each one down and piece together why it is that I love them so much. After watching them all again, I realized that I don't have an individual favorite. I enjoy each one for the originality they bring, while also being able to sustain the integrity of the original concept for the character. This can be attributed to the genius directing of Steven Spielberg, the incredible writing of George Lucas, and the ability of Harrison Ford to own this character. But what else makes these films so great? Let's take a brief look back at three of my all time favorite films.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark

What a great year! The year of my birth and the beginning of Indiana Jones! Raiders of the Lost Ark was the beginning of a legend and the start of one of the greatest action heroes of all time, not to mention it won four Oscars and was even nominated for Best Picture. This was Indy at his toughest. He was rough around the edges, mysterious and still unknown. He was fearless in the face of danger, masterful with a whip, and had no problems with killing anyone who got in his way. I always pictured him as the toned down version of Ash from Army of Darkness but with the same soft spot for women.

What stood out for me in all of the Indiana Jones movies, but particularly in Raiders of the Lost Ark, were the opening sequences. Spielberg and Lucas designed these amazing openings that set the tone for the whole film. The introduction of Indy in this first film was absolutely perfect. We know nothing about this person and then all of a sudden he brings out a whip and strikes a gun out of some guy's hand. That was the first thing we ever saw him do! The first time I saw that scene I didn't need to know anymore about him before I knew I wanted to be him. Then he stepped into the light and we got our first look at his hat, his menacing face, and those intense eyes that Spielberg continually drew our attention to through light and shadow.

Raiders of the Lost Ark got everything right. It has great character development, action sequences, amazing set designs, and spectacular stunts. However, the most important aspect was the formula for the story that the next two would follow. Indiana Jones movies aren't just about a race to track down a treasure before someone else finds it first. Indiana is continually saving the world from the danger of an evil enemy obtaining some ancient artifact that possesses supernatural powers. In my opinion, that is why the National Treasure movies fail in comparison. Indiana is, in his own right, a superhero. Saving the world from Nazis and rescuing children from slave labor is all in a days work for our treasure-hunting professor.

The Temple of Doom (1984)

The Temple of Doom

I remember my first time watching this one. Sneaking out of my bed to the top of the stairs where my parents had no idea I was watching it. Then getting scared out of my mind when Mola Ram reached into that guy's chest and pulled his heart out. I know that this is most people's least favorite Indiana Jones film, but I truly don't understand why. This one is so different but still holds on to the most important aspects of the Indiana Jones universe, not to mention I definitely quote this one more then any of the others. How can you not love the opening scene between Indy and Lao Che? What about the amazing drop out of a plane with an inflatable raft? Do you remember the dinner scene with snake surprise, chilled monkey brains, and scarab beetles? How about the amazing mine cart chase sequence? This is definitely the film that doesn't get enough attention.

Re-watching the chase scenes in all of these movies really blew my mind. Those chase scenes in the first and third movies were amazing and some of my favorites. What I liked so much about the mine cart chase was how unique it was. I would have never thought of doing that. It's not like your normal car chase, boat chase or even airplane chase. Absolutely one of my favorite chase sequences of all time!

This is also the film where we start to see Indy open up a bit and become more personable. You can tell he loves Short Round and would risk his life to save Willie. He cracks jokes and has a bit more of a smart-aleck mouth. We also get a peek into his heart when he has the magic stones and could just leave but decides to try to save the slave kids instead. He is still the same rough Indy from the first film, but has slightly started to soften and let us see more of his personality.

The Last Crusade (1989)

The Last Crusade

It's funny how the title for this one used to work on two levels, but not any more with the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. This one used to be my favorite. Probably because of the challenges at the end, the introduction of Sean Connery as Indy's dad, and the increase in the amount of humor. All of these are still reasons I like it, but not the main reasons any more. Instead, I've come to appreciate it because of how epic it comes across. Indy goes from the knight's tomb, then to save his dad, then to Berlin to get the grail diary back, then tries to save Marcus, to finally end up at the resting place of the Holy Grail. The battles are massive, the chases are longer, and the explosions are bigger.

The Last Crusade includes so many characters but does a great job of still keeping a finger on the pulse that drives the Indiana Jones franchise. The opening was great, the chases were amazing and, like the others, it ends without Indy getting what he sought. In all the films, he never gets the treasure at the end. If you think about it, he is really the worst treasure hunter; at least Nic Cage returned the treasure to a museum at the end of National Treasure. Once again this is what makes the Indy movies so great. He might not end up with the prize, but he gains more then it could ever offer. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, he walks away with the girl he had once lost. In Temple of Doom, he rescues children from a fate worse than death. Finally, in The Last Crusade, he comes out of it with the relationship with his father that he had always wanted and the realization that fortune and glory aren't the most important things.

The Indy we see in The Last Crusade barely resembles the rough Indy we saw in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but that doesn't mean we don't like him. To be honest, I love the fact that he changed a bit from movie to movie. He grows up and opens up. He is still tough, but now he jokes around a lot and smiles and laughs more then in any of the previous films. We get a sense that Indiana isn't a character who is stuck in his ways, instead he is someone who evolves and grows as time passes and through his experiences. It's almost as if he were real!

There is no doubt in my mind that as the years pass by, this series will become even more beloved by movie fans then it already is. Indiana Jones is a household name that makes people smile and remember the first time they were introduced to him. The theme song still has the ability to give me goose bumps every time I hear it. So as the day draws near for the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, let the memories of these previous films flood into your mind. Go watch them again and compare to see if the new one can stand on the foundation that was already laid 27 years ago.

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  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Great article Ken! Fantastic writing! One of the best retrospectives I've ever read, and that's not even a lie. Makes me want to say screw everything else and just watch all three of these again tonight! Really good work my friend! :)
  • http://notjustnewmovies.blogspot.com Ben
    Nicely done, Ken. You should write more for this site - awesome job.
  • Movieraider321
    Amazing writing Ken. I hope one day to write about the films I hold so dear(the Indiana Jones movies hold special place in my heart.) A fantastic article. Time to watch the movies again. Thank you very much.
  • DieHard Indy Fan
    Great job. I still remember the first time i saw Raiders. It became my favourite movie and nothing has surpassed it since. The only movie that i could say came close and gave me as many thrills, chills and smiles was Die Hard. But give me that fedora, leather jacket, khaki shirt and bullwhip, any day of the week... Thanks for the 25-plus years of adventure, Indy!! Heres to 25 more...
  • Janet
    These were so much fun to read. Thanks for sharing and great job!
  • The Brain
    I too was watching Raiders and Temple over the weekend. Bits and pieces. The beginning of Temple. One thing I guess that I've never loved about it was Kate Capshaw. I know her and Spielberg got together on the set, so I think Spielberg was just lovestruck or something, because she's in the film an awful lot. And Karen Allen is so much better. I remember when I was a kid, I even had a problem with the movie. First off, there's way too much exposition. There's the opening fight scene and then the plane crash and then it's about 40 minutes until Indy kicks some ass. In actuality, it's more like an hour, because he's captive. The heart thing is most memorable, but the movie is just one gross-out scene after another. Bugs, chilled monkey brains, eyeball soup, live heart transplants. The bad guy doesn't really talk shit. Also, I only realized recently that the quest was to save the entire nation of India. When I was a kid, I just thought he was helping out a village. And I love Short Round, but he must be something Lucas threw in there. It reminded me of the first Star Wars prequel, where he threw in a child Anakin just to appeal to kids. Same thing they're doing with Shia. For me, it rivals the Back to the Future trilogy, where you can take the questionable middle movie out of the equation and still have a good story.
  • Djo.
    Dude. You rock my socks. Thanks for writing these!
  • bltzie
    I watched the three movies and I'm headed to the theater now! It's so weird! I live in Latinamerica and I get to see this movie first than most of you guys :P We'll talk later on I'm out!
  • Richard
    Great writeup, I agree with everything you said. I for some reason love the 2nd one the best and the last one the least, I think its just beause I saw the first 2 so many times and the last one just a couple. I bought the trilogy when it jsut came out recently because of the rumors of another movie came out so long ago I never decided to buy it hoping for a 4 pack but I couldnt resist. I wanted to see them all again before the new one. Im gonna watch Temple of Doom tonight and Crusade tommorow and of course Crystal Skull on Friday! Crap I have inlaws coming in for the weekend, uh, ok Doom and Crusade tonight and Crystal Skull on Thursday!
  • Britt
    Indy is definitely my hero and I can't wait to see Crystal Skull tomorrow. I agree with the brain regarding Kate Capshaw in Temple of Doom. I enjoyed the movie overall but Willie struck me as way too whiny and a stereotypical damsel in distress. Indy needs a stronger female counterpart. Karen Allen was by the best to go toe to toe with Indy.
  • bltzie
    Indiana Jones and the Bullshits of George Lucas yeah...didnt like it a lot :S
  • brian
    Oh, man.....Lucas did NOT write the movies.... Lawrence Kasdan would be real sad to keep reading people writing this... Please...stop saying Lucas wrote these movies....Roger Ebert even did it... Lucas and PHILIP KAUFMAN made the story for the first one.... Just sayin'....
  • bltzie
    George Lucas came up with the McGuffin (the crystal skull), and is credited with writing the story. He also served as Executive Producer. He might not have written the screenplay (thank god!) but the story was part his idea... Just sayin'...
  • mrbobbyboy
    One important point to note Ken: The chronology of the three films is 'Temple', then 'Raiders' then Crusade'. This is vital to Indy's character arc, in as much as he wasn't softening in Temple, he was younger. He'd yet to experience a wealth of betrayal. Raiders is actually an older Indy, who's gone through the mincer of Temple and god knows what else, then thinks he's lost Marian, etc etc. I love the fact that Temple is the prequel. You're spot on when you write it's an over-looked classic, but it's interesting to note that it's both Spielberg and Lucas's least favourite of the three. There's a dark quality to it that never pervades the other adventures.
  • Dr Phaust
    "incredible writing of George Lucas" was that a typo?
  • avoidz
    The biggest problem with Temple of Doom is, of course, Kate Capshaw's "Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott" character. There are other problems with pacing (that whole loony inflatable life raft scene), but "Willie" is the main downer for the whole movie. My favorite part I always look forward to is just after Indy fights the Thuggee "end-of-level boss" and is running around the walkways dodging bullets and whips his way to the excellent mine cart sequence :) Raiders is obviously the most complete and satisfying Indiana Jones movie. The Last Crusade is a fun ride, with many great moments with Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. I don't like Marcus Brody turned into a bumbling idiot, though, after his wise counsel in Raiders.
  • brian
    Hey, Bitzie: The article stated Written by George Lucas Story and Executive Producer is NOT writing the movie. So your smug chop at the end makes no sense because what you wrote enhances my argument. Tool.
  • bltzie
    He wrote the story of the movie for crying out loud! he didn't write the script, but the whole concept was his idea. As far as I could tell there was nothing wrong with the pacing of the movie or the dialogs, it was the plot that kinda sucked, the whole concept behind it, have you even seen the movie? Douche.
  • Djo.
    The bottom line is George Lucas CAN'T write. So there's no way he could have written it! HA!
  • mrbobbyboy
    A New Hope was pretty good ... and American Graffiti ...
  • brian
    Look, Bitzie...my entire initial comment was that the author of this article stated that Lucas wrote the movie. I stated to please not keep saying that because he didn't write the script. The article is talking about THE FIRST THREE FILMS! You MORON. That's what I'm talking about. Lucas came up with the story, and yes, I did see the first three, so what is your point? Stop trying to answer my comments with meaningless answers. I wasn't being a "douche" as you say...I was pointing out a journalistic mistake. So give it a rest, man, and don't reply to this, please...tool.
  • bltzie
    brian it's "bltzie" with an L! hehe and sorry I think we had a misunderstanding! I thought we were talking about the new movie. My bad! sorry for calling you a douche, you are a funny guy
  • Djo.
    Cue Indiana's whip, cracking in the face of BOTH of you guys.
  • brian
    It's cool.My bad, b--L---tzie. Now I'm jealous you've already seen it.
  • Quanah
    Excellent piece. I saw IJ4 at the midnight showing last night. I thought it was incredible. It was definitely a spin on the 50's SciFi. I want more!
  • MGB
    What a way to look at the entire series. Your reviews put a totally different twist on this series (and maybe how to look at others!)
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