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Guest Blogger David Edelglass Discusses Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Dark Knight

Below is the second of a three-part contribution from guest blogger David Edelglass to our continuing series in which I asked several of my close friends and colleagues to name their Favorite Movie of All Time. Click here for Part I.

My Favorite Action/Adventure Movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark

This is kind of a no brainer. Raise your hand if you never dressed up as Indiana Jones for Halloween or imagined yourself swinging across large crevices on your whip and outrunning giant boulders.

It is impossible to watch this film without getting caught up in the adventure and wishing you were there. This was a perfect meeting of the minds between three of Hollywood’s best and brightest at the time: George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan, and Steven Spielberg. Lucas and Kasdan were just coming off of The Empire Strikes Back (which, along with Raiders, would be the high point in both their careers, in my opinion), and Spielberg was really hitting his stride, having already completed Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (He would follow Raiders with ET). All three clearly were in love with the pulp adventures they had grown up enjoying, and it shows here. Indiana Jones is smart, cocky, handsome, but a bit rough around the edges, and Harrison Ford plays him to a T (though I am insanely curious to see what the movie would have been like if Tom Selleck had been free to take the role as originally intended). Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood is the perfect counterpart to Indy, and she is by far the best female lead of the entire series. John Rhys-Davies (Sallah) and Denholm Elliot (Marcus Brody) turn in fine supporting roles, as does Alfred Molina in a brief cameo in the opening scene (though I don’t know if you can really call it a cameo, as this was his first credited on-screen role).

Raiders is by far the strongest in the series, and hopefully if Spielberg and Lucas decide to dip back into the pool one more time, they’ll go back and watch this first movie to see what it was that made Raiders of the Lost Ark so special to begin with.

(Note that I did not refer to the movie as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Lucas and Spielberg should be ashamed of themselves for that one)

Honorable Mention: The Goonies


The Movie That Absolutely Blew My Mind in the Theater: The Dark Knight

You all probably remember the hype the preceded this movie. The viral marketing campaign before its release was astounding.  Then, with the death of Heath Ledger, this film became a must see. We geeks were foaming at the mouth to see it. The IMAX shows sold out well in advance for weeks into the release. And then it was here, and oh, my, god. I was not prepared for what I saw projected on the screen before me. Not in the slightest.

I saw it first on a regular movie screen, and even that was almost too much for me to handle (I subsequently saw it again in IMAX, and it was even better). When it was all over, my legs were like Jello. I couldn’t stand up. I just sat there in my chair, and then the whole ride home, all I could say was wow.

This movie is dark. Most of you have probably already seen it, so you know what I’m talking about and I don’t need to go into plot details here, and for those who haven’t, the less you know going into it, the better. Our hero gets the crap beat out of him, literally and figuratively. His life is torn to shreds, and it is a testament to his strength that he is still able to get up at all afterwards. And there is no happy ending for Batman this time around. This is an Empire Strikes Back kind of ending, and this movie earns every second of it.

Everyone has already praised Ledger’s performance as the Joker, and he deserved his posthumous Oscar. I don’t really have anything to add to that point, but I do want to call out Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of Harvey Dent. His slow descent into madness is note perfect. I was familiar with the comics, so I already knew what happened to Dent, but that didn’t matter. In fact, it made it even better. You know exactly what is going to happen to this noble, kindhearted person, and it is breaking your heart to watch it, but there is nothing you can do about it. One of the first things I thought about once my brain started working again (which was about three days later) was that this is what the three Star Wars prequels should have been. This is what I should have felt while watching Anakin Skywalker slowly become the villain that we all knew he was destined to be, instead of wondering how much more cheesy dialogue and over-acting I had to sit through until I got to see some lightsabers again.


Check back tomorrow for the final installment from David, in which he discusses his favorite comedy, his favorite film from his childhood, and the film that he can always watch no matter where he is or when it’s on.

The series so far:

Intro

Citizen Kane

Hoosiers, The Frisco Kid, & Casablanca

Wax Philosophique

The Hunt for Red October

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