This past weekend I was thrilled to have gotten to see the Complete Indiana Jones Adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — I left before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) back on the big screen! On Monday I wrote about Raiders of the Lost Ark, and on Wednesday I discussed The Temple of Doom, now it’s time to dive into Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
I think the success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was critical to the enduring life of the Indiana Jones film series. Raiders of the Lost Ark was an extraordinary achievement and a huge critical and commercial success back in 1981, and it still stands as one of the very best movies ever made. But The Temple of Doom, while undeniably a great movie, felt to many (at the time, and still today) as something of a mis-step for the series. Many of the characters and stylistic trappings of Raiders were dropped in favor of a story that was very dark and horrifying.
The genius of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the way it course-corrects the series back to a path that seems more in line with the first film, bringing back many of the characters and elements that fans loved in Raiders while also telling a new and different story. I think for those reasons, Last Crusade is one of the very best movie sequels that I can think of.
I adore the way that, after the opening sequence (which I’ll get to in a moment), the beginning of Last Crusade is structured to echo Raiders. We again see Indy teaching an archaeology class, we again see all of his female students dreamily looking up at him, and we again see Marcus Brody walking into the class with news for Indy. It gives the trilogy a nicely bookended feel, helping the saga to feel like a complete, unified story. It also puts the viewer on nicely comfortable, familiar ground as we begin the third installment.
There are two key creative choices that really help The Last Crusade succeed as well as it does. The first is the choice of macguffin. After having Indy pursue a sacred ancient artifact from Judaism in Raiders, it feels right that now in Last Crusade he should pursue a sacred ancient artifact from Christianity. The Holy Grail is a suitably important and suitably mysterious object to serve as a worthy goal for Indy. One of many reasons why Raiders and Last Crusade are by far the two strongest Indy films is in … [continued]
On Monday I wrote about how amazing it was to watch the Complete Indiana Jones Adventures (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — I left before Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) back on the big screen! On Monday I wrote about Raiders, now it’s time to dive into Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
The first thing we need to notice is that I think Temple of Doom is the first instance of George Lucas’ proclivity for giving terrible, terrible titles to his films. For some reason, Temple of Doom has never bothered me as a title the way some of Lucas’ later titles (The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) have. Maybe that’s just because I grew up with Temple of Doom — it’s one of those things that I just never really thought about — the movie was called Temple of Doom and that was that. But I think it’s worth noting here. I am all for the fun of a pulpy title, but Temple of Doom is a bit too simplistic for me.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is often-maligned and I do tend to agree it’s the weakest of the original three Indy films. (Though the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — click here for my review of that abomination — made The Temple of Doom look like Citizen Kane.) But, though it’s not as 100% successful as Raiders or Last Crusade, I still think Temple of Doom is a pretty terrific film.
Watching all three films back to back drives home just how different Temple of Doom is from Raiders and Last Crusade, and that is most likely why it doesn’t sit as well with some audiences. Indy’s familiar supporting characters are all absent in Doom. There’s no Sallah, there’s no Marcus (both of whom would return for Last Crusade) and there’s no Marion.
The palette of the film is very different. Raiders and Last Crusade are both fairly brightly colored films. But Temple of Doom is literally much darker, with the screen dominated by black and red pretty much throughout.
The Temple of Doom is also much darker, thematically, than either Raiders or Last Crusade. This is a pretty brutally violent film, and in particular there is some pretty horrifying violence against children. Mostly it is implied, but there are still some on-screen sequences of children getting beaten and whipped in the mines underneath Pankot Palace that are pretty shocking. What particularly struck me was the … [continued]
I had a tremendous time this past weekend enjoying The Complete Indiana Jones Adventures, back on the big screen! One of my local movie theatres was participating in the national event, screening all four Indiana Jones films back-to-back-t0-back-to-back: Raiders of the Lost Ark (please note that, contrary to what the poster for this event said, the title of this film is NOT Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Naturally, I left before Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, so I consider that a moral victory.
What extraordinary fun it was to watch the three great Indiana Jones films back on the big screen! I am a huge fan of the idea of studios giving their great classic films periodic big-screen releases (I had such fun last year when Ghostbusters returned to theatres for a few nights, and also at Universal’s 25th anniversary big-screen re-release of Back to the Future!), and I really wish more studios would get into this business. How could they lose? I know it costs money to restore these films, to make prints, and to advertise, but it’s hard for me to imagine that people wouldn’t eat up the chance to occasionally see a classic film that they love back on the big screen, the way it was meant to be seen.
Watching Raiders through Last Crusade only reinforced what I already knew, that all three films (even the weaker Temple of Doom) are extraordinary achievements, true cinema classics.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – How could anyone argue that this is not one of the most perfect films ever made?? The story unfolds like perfect clockwork, with each scene leading into the next, action sequence after escalating action sequence, as the story builds to its climax. There is no fat on this film — name one scene in the movie that doesn’t HAVE to be there. The stakes are clearly drawn, the characters are sketched with impeccably economy. (We learn about Indy and Marion etc. WHILE they are doing/saying things essential to the plot. The movie doesn’t grind to a halt just so we can get a certain character beat or learn a bit of back-story. It all flows perfectly together.)
The casting is perfection. Obviously, Harrison Ford was born to play this role (even more than Han Solo, in my opinion). He creates a human-sized super-hero the likes of which we have never seen since. Yes, Indy can do extraordinary things like getting dragged under and then behind a truck before pulling himself back on board, but … [continued]
I have had to reevaluate my opinion of Adam Carolla after listening to his marvelous interview (well-over an hour long) with the great Albert Brooks. This is a MUST-LISTEN, friends.
Attorney General Eric Holder has challenged David Simon to produce a sixth season of The Wire?? That is awesome.
This expose on the dramatically underlit images found at many big-chain Boston-area movie theaters is very frustrating to read. Every time I read about an amazing theatre chain like the Alamo Drafthouse, I wish there were better movie theatres in my area.
This is a great article about when to show Star Wars to one’s kids. I’m going to face this dilemma in a few years! The follow-up piece is great, too: when to show the Indiana Jones films to one’s kids!
Io9 has weighed in on the 10 Best Star Trek Episodes. It’s an interesting list. I’m thrilled by how well-represented Deep Space Nine is, but having an episode of Voyager on the list really nullifies any credence the writer might have. And “The Void” of all episodes? Decent, but I could name about a hundred Trek episodes from the other series that are superior. For my own list of my favorite Star Trek episodes of all time, click here.
I am very excited by the report that the phenomenal comic book series 100 Bullets just might become a TV show on Showtime! 100 Bullets is one of the finest comic book series of recent memory. Click here for my thoughts on the series. Now, I’m not holding my breath for this proposed TV show to actually happen, but damn would it be cool…
In my review of Super 8 last week, I mentioned that I felt the monster in the film (directed by J.J. Abrams) was quite similar to the monster from Cloverfield (produced by J.J. Abrams). Don’t agree with me? Then check this out. Case closed, I think!… [continued]
The casting announcements have been coming fast and furious for the new Spider-Man film, but I just can’t muster up much excitement. I simply think it’s a terrible idea to re-boot the Spider-Man franchise, which felt to me like it still had a ton of gas in the tank (despite my dislike of Spider-Man 3). Take the recent news that Rhys Ifans will be playing The Lizard in the new film. That should be exciting news — I think the Lizard is a great Spidey villain. But I’m just bummed that they’re finally using The Lizard in a Spidey film and the great Dylan Baker — who appeared as Dr. Curt Connors in ALL THREE previous Spider-Man films — isn’t going to get to play the character.
Speaking of big announcements about which I just can’t muster up too much excitement is the news that George Lucas will be releasing the Star Wars movies back to theatres in 3D, as well as the follow-up announcement that they’re also working on 3-D conversions of the Indiana Jones films. On the one hand, any excuse to see the Star Wars and Indy films back on the big screen is exciting. (After having so much fun seeing Back to the Future back on the big screen, I’ve been hoping that other studios would follow suit and bring some of their best films back to theatres so we can enjoy them as they were meant to be seen.) But I’m not so excited about the 3-D conversions. That has the potential to be cool, but a big part of me would really just rather see a beautifully restored 2-D print of those films. Also, Lucas has unfortunately decided to release the Star Wars films one per year, in order of episode number — which means he’s starting with Episode I, and we won’t get to see The Empire Strikes Back until something like 2016!! That stinks!
I’ve been interested in the upcoming sci-fi film Skyline ever since seeing the trailer. But I’m even more interested now, after reading Mr. Beaks’ great piece at AICN about how Colin & Greg Strause basically made the film independently, free from studio oversight or interference. I can’t wait to see what they’ve put together.
Check out this amazing web-site that contains a treasure trove of footage of Andy Kaufman performing throughout his career, arranged chronologically. Astounding.
I’d never heard of this movie before seeing the trailer, but now I’m intrigued:
The combination of Andy Serkis (who played Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films) and Simon Pegg is genius, and it’s exciting to see John Landis directing again!
Like most viewers, … [continued]
One of my earliest posts for this blog last year was a list of a bunch of DVDs on my “to-watch” shelf that I hoped to get to some time in the near future. One item on that list was the first set of DVDs collecting The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones.
Well, it took me quite a while, but I am pleased to report that almost a year later I have made my way through that DVD set! (It’s the first of three sets that collect the entire run of the series.)
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones was a TV series that ran, somewhat sporadically, from 1992-1996. Alternating episodes would follow the adventures of 10 year-old Indy (played by Corey Carrier), and teen-aged Indy (played by Sean Patrick Flanery). In each episode, Indy would find himself in adventures in varying parts of the globe, each time running into many real-life historical figures, Forest Gump style. ABC cancelled the series after its second season in 1993, but the USA network picked it up and aired a number of new episodes in two-hour mini-movie formats until 1996.
For the 1999 release of the series on VHS, the entire series was re-edited chronologically, with each episode paired with the next one in sequence to form a two-hour mini-movie (similar to the way the episodes were aired on USA). In so doing, all of the framing device scenes with a very Old Indy (93 year-old Indy was played by George Hall) that used to start and end each episode were completely removed. These are the versions that have been released on DVD. Also in 1999, Lucas, ever one to re-name his work (Star Wars eventually becomes Episode IV: A New Hope; Raiders of the Lost Ark eventually becomes Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark), at this point also changed the name of the series from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles to The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. (And thank heaven for wikipedia for that little tidbit. Writing this whole review I kept writing The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, but I could see that the title on the DVDs was The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones. I had no idea why I kept getting the title wrong! Well, it’s because I always knew this show as The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles! Sheesh!)
(By the way, here’s another amusing tidbit. Does anyone but me remember how, when this series was released on VHS in 1999 in the form of 22 mini-movies, each labeled “chapter 1″ through “chapter 22,” Lucas also re-released the Indy movie trilogy, labeling the movies “chapter 23″ through” chapter 25″?? This … [continued]
Click here for a terrific three-essay series that delves into the first three Indiana Jones films. These are all really well-written pieces, filled to the brim with love for the cinematic adventures of Dr. Jones.
Clever tourists wrecking the world one monument at a time. Don’t think — just follow that link. You won’t regret it.
Click here for a fascinating list of the twenty best non-fiction books for people who think they hate to read non-fiction. I need to get on this, having only read two of the items on this list!
I’m not exactly recommending this lengthy essay, because I disagree with it wildly, but it’s sort of bizarrely fascinating two see two individuals who really don’t seem to like Star Trek at all go on an enormous length about it as they revisit the first six Trek films. (Well, one of the two authors seems to be a fan, but he doesn’t seem to put up much of a fight whenever the other one bashes the series.)
Speaking of Trek, here is a link to a lengthy, fascinating Q & A that’s been going on over at Trekmovie.com between Star Trek screenwriters Bob Orci & Alex Kurtzman and a number of fans who, like me, had lots of questions about elements of the new movie’s plots. I really respect Mr. Orci for engaging with the fans in this way — though I feel most of his responses are pretty flimsy. Check it out and see what you think. (UPDATE: Still MORE Q & A with Mr. Orci & Mr. Kurtzman can be found here!)
It’s pretty obvious that the new Star Trek movie was pretty heavily influenced by the action and dynamism of Star Wars. But have you considered just how deep those similarities run? Shocking! (And hysterical.)
That should keep you all good and busy until tomorrow! See you back here then!… [continued]
I’ve gotten quite a response, via e-mail, to yesterday’s review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull! I truly wish I had better things to say about that movie. Maybe some of you out there will enjoy it more than I did.
No new cartoon on Monday because of the long weekend. Have a great Memorial Day, everyone, and I’ll see you back here on Tuesday! Fun with Iron Man will continue…… [continued]
I just returned from a midnight showing. What follows are my spoiler-free thoughts.
They did it to me again.
I have never been more disappointed walking out of a movie theatre than I was after sitting through Star Wars: Episode I back in 1999. It truly never occurred to me that Episode I would be bad — and I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined just how awful it turned out to be.
Going into the first new Indiana Jones movie in 19 years, I tried my best to lower my expectations. The Star Wars prequels proved that George Lucas has lost quite a bit of his once-magic touch, and even Steven Spielberg has proven to be fallible (Anybody watched The Lost World or AI: Artificial Intelligence recently?). But still, I couldn’t help but be excited, and optimistic. It’s a new Indy movie!!!
Well, there’s nothing in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that approaches the mind-numbing tedium of Star Wars Episode I, or the sheer inanity of Jar Jar Binks.
But it is, I’m afraid, an exceedingly mediocre film nonetheless.
What’s good? Well, Harrison Ford shows more life and charisma than he has for well over a decade. I’ve had a habit of declaring to my friends that Harrison Ford hasn’t been in a good movie since The Fugitive (1993) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). (Do you disagree? Check out this list: Sabrina, The Devil’s Own, Six Days Seven Nights, Random Hearts, What Lies Beneath, K-19: The Widowmaker, Hollywood Homicide, Water to Wine, and Firewall. Yikes!) Not only have those movies stunk, but Ford has seemed rather lifeless in most of them. But here the Old Harrison Ford seems back, as if he’s delighted to be playing this iconic character again — and that energy really shows through in almost every scene.
What else is good? Wellll…the jungle landscapes of Peru, in which much of the movie is set, is an excitingly different environment than the settings of the first three Indy movies, which is fun. There are some great moments of action. And (OK, this is a tiny spoiler but anyone who has seen or read ANYTHING about this movie knows this already) its really great to see Karen Allen back on screen as Marion Ravenwood. Her smile is every bit as beguiling as it was back in 1981 in Raiders.
So what’s bad about the movie? Where do I begin. The whole tone of the film is way off. Moments that should be dramatic and emotional (such as Marion’s revelation to Indy in the quick-sand pit), or moments that should be suspenseful and dramatic (such as Indy’s escape from … [continued]
So I feel like I’ve come across as being rather down on the new Indiana Jones movie in my recent blog entries. But really – it’s the first new Indiana Jones movie in 19 years! How could I NOT be incredibly excited??
Am I a little dubious about The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Well, sure. But still, I cannot wait for May 22.
So, in the spirit of the power of positive thinking, I’ve decided to focus on the positives today. So I hereby present you with my list of my ten favorite moments in the Indiana Jones series (so far), listed in order of preference:
10. “They’re digging in the wrong place!” I am as filled with glee as Indy and Sallah are each time I hear this magnificent line-reading. (Raiders)
9. “She talks in her sleep.” Henry Jones’ revelation of how he knew Elsa was a Nazi. Henry: “I’m as human as the next man.” Indy: “Dad, I was the next man!” (The Last Crusade)
8. Pretty much the whole opening sequence of The Temple of Doom, in which Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones playing James Bond (complete with white Goldfinger tux). I also admire anyone with the guts to open their big blockbuster action movie sequel with a dance number from “Anything Goes” – and in Mandarin, nonetheless! (Temple of Doom)
7. “I am the monarch of the sea…” After Marian kisses Sallah goodbye, he thumps his chest and wanders away down the pier while singing this little ditty. It’s just a silly little extraneous moment, but there’s such LIFE in the character at that moment – I just love it. (Raiders)
6. “No time for love, Doctor Jones!” My favorite Short Round line.
(Let me note here that I have never approved of a “kid sidekick” in a movie more than I approve of Short Round. A terrific combination of role and actor.) (Temple of Doom)
5. “You could warn them…if only you spoke hovitos!” The culmination of the phenomenal, iconic opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark is the introduction of the best Indy villain so far: Belloq. Sort of a dark mirror image of Indy, Belloq is the archaeologist/adventurer without any morals. His taunting of Indy in this sequence (“once again Doctor Jones you see there is nothing you can possess that I cannot take away”) perfectly establishes his character and the rivalry dynamic with Indy. (Raiders)
4. “I should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers!” There’s a lot of great Henry Jones/Indiana Jones banter throughout The Last Crusade, but Henry’s frustration at Indy for letting the Nazis capture his Grail diary is probably my favorite moment. (Although “I suddenly remembered my … [continued]
On April 29th I wrote about my anticipation for all of this summer’s big-budget movies. But a quick perusal of last weeks’ Entertainment Weekly summer movie preview contained info on a number of smaller movies coming out this summer that sound like they’re also worth my ten bucks or whatever the hell it costs to go see a movie these days in downtown Boston.
Son of Rambow – Two British boys watch Rambo: First Blood and team up to film their own version. I saw the trailer last week and it looks dynamite. I have no idea of the story of the movie is anything like this at all, but the synopsis and the trailer remind me a lot of the 3 kids who made a shot for shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark. (I mentioned this on April 21st , and my buddy Andy Mo was kind enough to forward me the link to the Vanity Fair article about these guys.
I actually saw their version of Raiders at a sci-fi fan-film festival in Worcester a few years back, and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever beheld. I am desperate to see it again some day.) Anyhoos, that connection makes me very interested in this flick.
The Foot Fist Way – Apparently this is a comedy about a hapless tae kwon do instructor. It was made three years ago, and I’ve been reading about it on-line seemingly forever. According to EW, Will Farell used his clout to help this small film finally see a theatrical release. I’m intrigued.
Religulous – Bill Mahr and Larry Charles (writer for Seinfeld and director of Borat as well as many episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm) team up for a documentary about the state of world religion. I’m there.
Towelhead – Another movie I’ve been reading about on-line for quite a while. Its based on Alicia Elan’s 2005 novel about a 13 year-old girl of Lebanese descent. On the surface that doesn’t sound so much like my kind of movie, but its written and directed by Alan Ball (who wrote American Beauty), so I’m interested.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona – Directed by Woody Allen and starring Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Scarlett Johansson. I always try to give a new Woody Allen movie a chance, and this one has a spectacular cast.
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – Just kiddin’!… [continued]