Raiders of the Lost Ark directed by Steven Spielberg:

For a certain era of people Indiana Jones was it. He was the coolest science guy that existed.  Guys wanted to be him and girls wanted to be with him.  Harrison Ford was the perfect actor to portray this type of character. He is comfortable on screen not saying much and can dole out a one liner like nobody’s business. When this came out it blew most people’s minds as we had not seen such a big action adventure film in a long time. It was very modern looking with an old fashioned feel to it. The leather jacket, the whip, the rats, treasure, bad guys, caves, and that fedora hat What more could you ask for?

Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) is an archaeology professor at a university and in his spare time he hunts for archaeological treasures for the museum. Marcus (Denholm Elliott) tells him government men want to see him and they seem to know a lot about him. The men ask him about the location of Professor Ravenwood, the man he studied under at university in Chicago.

The Nazis are digging in the desert outside Cairo. They are looking for the Lost Ark. The Ark that contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments. They are rumoured to be hidden in the Well of the Souls in Tanis. Tanis was covered up by sand and lost.

What the government wants is for Indiana to locate Tanis and the Ark. They want it before Hitler and will pay handsomely.

Indiana travels to Nepal, India. There he locates Marian Ravenwood (played by Karen Allen). They have a history. He needs a piece from her father’s collection.  She tells him her father, Abner, is dead. A German man goes into the bar asking for the same piece as Jones did. Indiana rescues her and a shootout/fight ensures. Marian and Indiana get the medallion but her bar burns to the ground. She is angry and insists on becoming Indiana’s partner so she can get her money back.

They are off to Cairo, Egypt to try and get to Tanis and the Ark before the French archaeologist  Belloq (played by Paul Freeman), who has been hired by the Nazis to also find the treasure.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom directed by Steven Spielberg:

In 1935 professor of archaeology Indiana Jones is in Shanghai. He gets into a little disagreement with Lao (played by Roy Chiao) and ends up running for his life with the nightclub singer named Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (played by Kate Capshaw). On the escape plane with Willie and a young Chinese boy named Shorty (played by Jonathan Ke Quan) they run into trouble and crash in India.

The trio end up in a small village. Residents of the village believe that an evil spirit has taken their children due to a precious stone being stolen. They must recover the stone in a booby-trapped temple called the Temple of Doom.

Also wanting the stones they believe that if they can possess all five Sankara stones the power will allow the Thuggee to rule the world.

It is another race to find out who can locate, find, get their hands on and finally keep the final stone.

When the first film was a huge success there was little doubt they would come back with another one. They just had to try and do something bigger and better. With that type of hype and those types of expectations it would be almost impossible to attain them. Unfortunately for everyone they didn’t.  It wasn’t horrible; it just wasn’t as good as the original.  I don’t know if it was the right choice to go this soon into a prequel. That plus the new characters just inserted in just end up being weird (very untechnical, I know, but there it is).  These oddities plus the darker tone just didn’t quite as well.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade directed by Steven Spielberg:

It is 1912 and Indiana Jones (played by River Phoenix) is a teenage riding with his scout troop in the Utah desert. In a cave in the rock Indiana sees some men who have discovered an important artifact. He gets the artifact from them and makes a high speed and daring escape. Only to have the artifact given back to the man after by the sheriff.

As an adult Indiana has once again gone after the same man for the same artifact. This time it’s on the high seas. He just wants the artifact to be in a museum. This time he is successful and turns it over to Marcus.

Back at school Indiana is being watched. He is brought to meet Walter Donovan (played by Julian Glover), a rich man with a passion for antiquities. His men have unearthed a tablet referring to the Holy Grail. The Grail will bring eternal life to whoever drinks from it. Indiana is hesitant to go after what he thinks to just be a story or myth. That is until he goes to his father’s house to find it ransacked and his father (played by Sean Connery) missing.

So it is off to Venice, Italy where they are to meet a Dr. Schneider (played by Alison Doody) who will help them in their search. Dr. Schneider turns out to be a beautiful blonde woman. It starts getting dangerous but Indiana continues looking for his father.

Finally he locates Dr. Henry Jones Sr. in a house and the Nazis are after them. It turns out that Dr. Schneider is working for the Nazis. Donovan is behind it all. After getting away from the Nazis Dr. Jones wants to continue on with the search and that means going to Germany. Indiana reluctantly agrees as the Germans have the map and Marcus.

From there the chase continues into the desert of Hatay. Father and son take on a whole German troop.

After the darker previous film Indiana Jones turns back to the lighter fare we came to know and love it for. Plus you get the introduction of James Bond…ummm…Sean Connery as Indiana’s father. A case of perfect casting! As serious as Dr. Jones is Connery still adds plenty of wit and charm to the mix.  You would think that the acorn is from another tree completely if not their mutual love of archaeology.  In this case keeping up with the Joneses is a heck of a lot of fun.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull directed by Steven Spielberg:

Those of us in our 30s and 40s grew up with Indiana Jones films being fun examples of the action/adventure genre. We are now a little older (like Harrison Ford), a little bit wiser (I presume) and the same kind of tricks and lighthearted adventure film might not do the trick anymore. When we were younger the crazy and cheesy stuff out of these films made us laugh and want to run through the jungles in a fedora. They captured our imaginations. It’s hard to reproduce that feeling almost 20 years later.

It is rarely possible to top the hype and quality of an iconic film (or film series – think of the Star Wars disasters) many years later. No matter who directs it or stars in it. It just does not seem to work. Not only does Steven Spielberg (E.T., Schindler’s List) fail in these respects, but he also gets the small things wrong.

Unlike many of the other action adventure films the story does matter in the Indiana Jones series. It does not have to be rocket science, but it does have to draw us in and involve us in the adventure unfurling before our eyes. Getting caught up in the chases, fights, creepy locations, and trying to solve the mysteries is what made the Indiana Jones films fun. This is lost in “Kingdome of the Crystal Skull”. Yes, there are plenty of fights and chases in the film, but they just feel loosely strung together with no beginning or logical end to the story in sight. It all felt a little haphazard to me. There was no substance to it that I could hold on to. For instance, hardly any screen time is devoted to the Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford – Star Wars, Frantic) meeting his son (Shia LaBeouf – Transformers, The Greatest Game Ever Played) for the first time story. Again, it was just tacked on.

Besides the story being silly (Why oh why did they have to go the alien route), which I won’t go into too much for fear of ruining what little mystery it has going for it, the dialogue was awfully phony in sections. Maybe it was due to these two reasons that even the actors seemed a little off. Harrison Ford seems downright uncomfortable at times and Karen Allen (Marian) seems a little rusty to say the least. The performances by Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett (I’m Not There, Notes on a Scandal), as the villainess Irina Spalko, are good, but wasted.

Special Features:

  • On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • From Jungle to Desert
  • From Adventure to Legend
  • Making the Films
  • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary)
  • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
  • Behind the Scenes
  • The Stunts of Indiana Jones
  • The Sound of Indiana Jones
  • The Music of Indiana Jones
  • The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
  • Raiders: The Melting Face!
  • Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlies (with optional pop-ups)
  • Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
  • Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
  • Indy’s Friends and Enemies
  • Iconic Props (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
  • The Effects of Indy (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
  • Adventures in Post Production (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)

By Maha

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