Raiders of the Lost Ark

tn_raiderslucasminusstarwarsHave you guys seen this RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK movie yet? I was always under the impression that it was pretty well known, but then they changed the title to INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK so I guess it must’ve been one of those BY THE BOOK/RENAISSANCE MAN or EDGE OF TOMORROW/LIVE DIE REPEAT type of situations where it didn’t do well enough so they changed the title. The last resort of the marketing scoundrel. Anyway, this is the movie that Steven Spielberg made because he was sad they wouldn’t let him do James Bond and he wanted to make the fuckers pay dearly. He and George Lucas were kickin it V.I.P. style on the beach in Hawaii right after STAR WARS came out. They were probly like wearing cool shades, just hanging out pumpin some jams on the boombox, it was alot like this song is how I picture it, and it is said that the volleyball scene from TOP GUN was based on them. So George is spotting while Steven is doing some bench presses in my opinion and George starts talking about this old script he wrote with Philip Kaufman before STAR WARS, a thing called THE ADVENTURES OF INDIANA SMITH that’s kinda in the style of the old cliffhanger adventure serials. After they got home they ended up reworking the whole thing and having this guy Lawrence Kasdan (who was writing STAR WARS’S EMPIRE STRIKES BACK) do a new script.

So they got the ideas and production of Lucas plus the supreme directing chops of Spielberg, and they made a great movie. I love that the opening shot is the Paramount logo dissolving into an actual mountain. It’s a signal that they’re taking extra special care from the first frame on to make every detail great. I know there are exceptions to this rule (DOOM), but usually when the filmatists even put thought into how to make the studio logo cool that means there’s gonna be some serious elbow grease in this movie. No laziness.

And that is the case here. It’s full of meticulously constructed chases and battles with nicely orchestrated chain reactions and escalation, punctuated by great stunts (dragging under and then behind a moving truck!) and punchlines (might wanna look out for that propeller, bud). There are numerous clever bits of visual storytelling (the dead monkey next to the bowl of dates to show that they’ve been poisoned; the Nazi who grabbed the hot medallion in the burning bar later seig heiling to reveal that the burnt flesh on his palm is how the Nazis were able to read its inscription). There are plenty of nods to old serial style (a line animating over a map to show the progress of his travels, a villain introduced with a sinister peek over a newspaper) but the speed and energy is all modern.

mp_raidersDr. Henry “Indiana” Jones (Harrison Ford, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI) is an archaeology professor with a side gig of seeking out legendary artifacts in exotic locales. This doesn’t seem to include much digging, but instead lots of swinging on ropes, dodging booby traps, bullets, poison darts, tarantulas and snakes, and hanging off of moving vehicles (truck, plane, boat, submarine). These days you’d hire an American Ninja Warrior and have him use a phone to look up inscriptions, but back then Google was slower so you had to actually have a guy who knew about shit to do the adventuring. Therefore the government comes to Dr. Jones as an expert on some place in Egypt that the Nazis have been snooping around. Jones figures out they’re looking for the Biblical Ark of the Covenant (a golden palanquin type carrying case for the Ten Commandments tablets – another thing I’m surprised rappers haven’t started using yet) and they hire him to go get it first. If they get it they can have it for the museum, which seems to me like an invitation for Nazis to show up at your museum and cause trouble, but I don’t know. They’re professionals. They know their job better than I do.

Jones is not perfect. He almost blows it alot. He does not have stable relationships. He gets betrayed alot. But he is the man, so the filmatism treats him as such. We keep seeing his hands, his back, his hat before we see his face. We see one of his guides discover an ancient statue, scream and run away, but Dr. Jones proceeds. Only after a traitor pulls a gun on him and he knocks it away with his bullwhip is his face revealed. Later, when he’s reunited with the lover he abandoned, Marion (Karen Allen), she first sees him as a shadow on the wall, easily identifiable by his hat.

For her part, Marion is introduced by defeating a hefty man in a drinking contest. This establishes her feisty attitude as well as a talent she’ll try to utilize later to escape captivity. It’s weird though that she drinks like 32 shots of whisky then stands up, talks to Jones, is involved in a fight, and never seems tipsy. She doesn’t even do drunken kung fu. Nor is she hung over the next day. I guess she must’ve had alot of water and vitamin C that night.

Let’s talk about Marion’s no good sonofabitch pet monkey, who turns out to be a Nazi double agent. When he sieg heils, is he just mimicking his trainers, or is he truly saluting Hitler? Does he follow the ideology or is he just allowing himself to become a tool of evil? I don’t care, that little prick got what he deserved. Say what you will about that room full of snakes – Jones says he hates ’em – at least they are, as far as we know, just regular reptiles and not Nazi collaborators. Maybe that’s why they never bite our heroes. Maybe they’re trying to stay out of this war.

At least we know Dr. Jones is pure and fought the good fight against fascism. But there is one thing to look out for: the college girls adore him. Only one boy has even managed to get into his class, and the girls all swoon and flutter their eyelashes throughout his lecture. He doesn’t behave untoward as far as we see, but I’m just sayin. There could be some scandal dug up at some point. We can’t get too attached to our heroes these days.

When the Nazis do get the Ark the remains of the 10 Commandment tablets are in ‘as is’ condition – they are powder. Nobody thinks to try snorting them. I wonder what that would’ve done. If you’ve seen this movie you remember what happens when they try to do a ritual. The thing uses its “Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something” to melt those motherfuckers like candles. I wonder how long Hitler waited before he figured out they weren’t coming home?

The effects in that scene hold up, they look great, although if it was released today people would hate it because they’d assume it was done with computers. Oh, it’s practical? I love it then. I love practical. CGI though, don’t even get me started. Wait, are you tricking me? Is it CGI? Do I hate it? I don’t know anymore. Anyway, it’s the first non-STAR WARS movie to have effects by Lucas’s own effects company, Industrial Light and Magic. So that’s one way this is a major landmark in the evolution ’80s popular cinema. It’s the convergence of Lucas and Spielberg and the greatest minds in special effects pouring all their creativity into newfangled old fashioned thrill rides for the masses. The era of Lucasfilm and Amblin.

Of the movies Lucas has his name on but didn’t direct, this is one of the more hands-on, so it’s one that best represents what we think of as a George Lucas film. It’s an homage to the past using the tools of the present, it has a fast pace, fast vehicles, snappy dialogue, innovative special effects, a great score by John Williams, Harrison Ford. It even has a part where the villain straight up tells Indiana “I am a shadowy reflection of you.” This is not unlike something that would be said in a Seagal movie, but it’s also similar to the whole light and dark side of the force concept, that Luke could easily become like Vader, that Vader was once like Luke.

Anyway, check this one out, you will be surprised! Real sleeper here. He runs from a huge boulder in one part I think you will thank me you guys. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK it’s called.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 12:40 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

106 Responses to “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

  1. A genuinely breathless thrill-machine, that never sacrifices story or character for set-pieces. I so wish a comparable movie could be made with Uncharted or something, but the likelihood is minimal.

    Vern, you can buy Toht shaped candles! They’re pricey, but awesome.

  2. I never saw that weird German poster. The tagline says “The return of the big adventure movie”, btw.

  3. Before Die Hard, we had Raiders of the Lost Ark. Even after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we still have Raiders of the Lost Ark. And the world is better because of it.

    Raiders was the first non-Star Wars movie to have ILM special effects, but that’s only because it beat Dragonslayer to theaters by a few weeks. Not that there is any comparison between the two movies, of course.

  4. Wonder how many other posters didn’t use his hat?

    Yet another Vern review of a beloved mega-classic that still finds some new things to say. Bravo.

  5. A few years ago the transcript of the RAIDERS story meetings between Lucas, Spielberg and Kasdan from 1978 were put up online. It’s a fun read where you see during a long session as the three(primarily Lucas and Spielberg) come up with all the set pieces and scenes for the movie, lay out the general story and flesh out and detail Indy and the other characters. A lot of their ideas that didn’t make it into the movie like Indy fighting a Chinese gangster in Shanghai, using a rubber raft to get out of a plane crashing in the Andes, and he mine car chase were used later in the second movie INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. The transcript is at:

  6. Wrong link sorry!

  7. Okay I don’t know how to put a link online in the comment. You can just google search “Raiders transcript”.

  8. I’ve literally watched this movie hundreds of times over the years but it wasn’t until watching it a couple of days ago that I realized that the guy who takes the idol in the beginning aka the traitor Vern mentions is Alfred Molina. That was pretty cool and a great reminder that we all gotta start somewhere. Something that always baffles me is that Michael Bay worked on this production in any capacity. Yet it’s like he never learned anything valuable from the experience.

  9. This is honestly my favorite movie of all time. I believe that this is just a perfect piece of entertainment. As usual, Vern, your write-up is fantastic. Sometimes, my favorite reviews of yours are ones like this where there’s not much you really need to say about it being good or bad, so instead you focus on some of the minutiae and provide a new perspective to something. Great job, bud.

  10. The guy who gets his hand whipped in the opening and the eye patch guy with the monkey are the same actor.

  11. The Original Paul

    December 10th, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I like this one. (The review and the film.) It’s nice to have a reminder of a time when watching a Spielberg movie didn’t make me want to go sit in a corner and ponder how my life had gone so wrong.

    …Anyway, happy memories, eh?

  12. Oh man I love Raiders! Wore out the VHS tape we had when I was a kid watching it so many times. I got to see the Blu-Ray transfer in theaters in Austin a couple years ago. Craig Brewer introduced the movie and talked for a while about how much influence it had on him and other writers and filmmakers in the industry. It was super interesting to see how other famous people are super fans just like us when it comes to the classics.

    Harrison Ford had that perfect mix of cool, sexy, smart, rugged, and badass that’s so rare. At his peak he really was one of the greatest. I would have liked to see what it would have been like if they’d gone the Bond route and kept making Indy movies with different actors in the title role. Could have been really fun.

  13. Oh, God, please let Vern do a retrospective review of Crystal Skull where he still valiantly defends it like the good man he is.

  14. Jonathan – I do plan to include that in the series, unless when I watch it again I feel like I have nothing new to add. Whether or not I defend it and how valiantly will depend on how I feel about it when I watch it again. It’s been a few years.

  15. I… I’ve never seen raiders.
    I’ve seen Temple of Doom, Last Crusade and Crystal Skulls, but for some reason I’ve never seen Raiders. I think I might have seen bits and pieces of it, but never the full thing. We’d bought Temple of doom on VHS when I was a kid and had Last crusade taped off the TV, but we never had a copy of Raiders so I never got around to seeing it.

    I should probbably do that some day.

  16. CJ, that tagline sounds pretty close to the original English one: “The Return of the Great Adventure.”

    Does anyone know for certain if that Raiders transcript is genuine and not a hoax? I’ve never heard an original source cited, therefore I’ve been reluctant to read it in case it turns out to be fan fiction.

    I’m surprised the “Related Posts” didn’t include Vern’s review of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: THE ADAPTATION. It would be funny if Vern revisited that one in this series since technically it is a film where Lucas is credited as a writer.

  17. Mmmm…Jager Schatzes.

  18. Gary Kurtz has said that the original screenplay for RAIDERS was better – more thoughtful scenes between the various characters – but a lot of it was shelved in order to quicken the pacing and make it more of an “adventure.”

  19. Indiana Jones is pretty much the gold standard of coolness in pop culture in my opinion, it doesn’t get any better.

    I mean I was an absolute Indiana Jones freak as a kid, the only movie that topped it was JURASSIC PARK (not saying that I think JP is a better movie than RAIDERS as an adult, just what I thought was coolest as a kid), Indy is special to me in a way few other characters are.

    What’s cool is for a while as a kid all I knew was RAIDERS and TEMPLE OF DOOM until as luck what would have it I stumbled upon LAST CRUSADE in Blockbuster once, I was so excited, it was like “holy crap are you telling me they made a THIRD Indiana Jones!?” being a kid at the time I had no idea (a similar situation occurred with GHOSTBUSTERS 2) and thus LAST CRUSADE holds a special place in my heart because I can distinctly remember the first time I saw it, which is not so much the case with RAIDERS and TEMPLE since I was really little when I first saw them.

    Anyway, I would call RAIDERS an all time great film, not just for the action adventure genre or blockbusters but film in general.

  20. RAIDERS is so absurdly over the top violent as far as a adventure movie goes. The melting of the faces and the head explosions are something that would probably not be seemed as particularly appropriate these days. But I am glad it´s there. Too bad Spielberg became such an aggressive opponent towards portraying graphic violence in actionfilms after TEMPLE OF DOOM. Because he made the violence so memorable in these films.

    Favourite casual violence moment in RAIDERS: The scene in which Indy disposes of the swordsman by shooting the guy with a look of not a single fuck was given.

  21. Shoot, I bet you know the anecdote behind that scene too? The one about Ford having the shits that day and because of that he was unable to film a fight scene?

  22. The Original Paul

    December 11th, 2015 at 4:20 am

    “Too bad Spielberg became such an aggressive opponent towards portraying graphic violence in action films after TEMPLE OF DOOM.”

    So he doesn’t like violence… but in WotW…

    Ok… I will not even go there. Because if I do, my head will explode.

    Anyway, just wanted to pop in and point out that the RAIDERS score is probably in the top three John Williams’ scores. Fantastic work by Williams.

  23. The Original Paul

    December 11th, 2015 at 4:58 am

    Pegsman – I forgot that. It was a total ad-lib by Ford, right?

  24. Toht’s demise was my most rewound and rewatched scene on any VHS tape. I remember watching it over and over again as a kid and not being able to figure out how they did it. Looking back, that scene was probably my gateway into horror and gore films. Thanks, Spielberg!

  25. Paul- It´s been a while since i Saw WoTW, but I don´t recall any headexplosions, people getting grinded in a stone crusher, burned alive and/or getting the heart ripped out of them. Mostly I just remember the mass destruction. I guess thats graphic, but mostly just noy that horrificly graphic as previously mentioned

  26. RAIDERS was originally banned in Sweden, but released cut. For a movie released as PG in the US that seems strange.

  27. Paul, he was feeling ill and suggested that Indy could shoot the swordsman instead of fighting him.

    Shoot, it was rated 16 here in Norway and still cut quite heavily. TEMPLE OF DOOM even more.

  28. Everybody knows that the “Shoot the swordsman” bit was stolen from Titmeister Emeritas Andy Sidaris’ debut, SEVEN (NOT THAT ONE). Andy even said so himself.

    As for Spielberg’s supposed vehement opposition to graphic violence, I counter with the two T. Rexes biting dude in half, the Nazi exploded with the sticky bomb, Cruise’s eyeballs rolling around on the floor. He’s definitely toned down the splatter as he got older, but how vehement could a guy who tortured adorable celebrity-voiced robots in his children’s android movie be?

  29. I think my claim might have been a bit of a stretch. I think I was mostly comparing the progression of the INDY-films in how they got less graphic.

  30. There’s definitely been less “fun” violence since his work has, overall, become less juvenile (not a criticism). But I’ve found that for every generalization that can be made about Spielberg, there are three or four examples that say otherwise.

  31. Thats how generalizations work. You can miss spots painting broad strokes.

  32. Only a Sith deals in absolutes, etc.

  33. Mr Majestyk, SEVEN is from 1979. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the gag in some 50’s or 60’s movie, but I can’t think of a name just now.
    I think it’s more interesting to look at Spielberg’s view on sex in his movies. In that field we can really talk about him being juvenile. As for the violence I think it’s Lucas who will digitally add that the swordsman shoots first in a future bluray release.

  34. And here I was thinking that line meant that Sith were liqour smugglers (Absolut Vodka). I need to pay more attention to my STAR WARSes

  35. I was joking about the Sidaris claim, which he really did make. I hoped it would be obvious that just because the director of HARD TICKET TO HAWAII says something doesn’t make it 100% accurate.

  36. Okay, sorry for ruining your joke…

  37. Eh, I ruined it myself with poor phrasing.

  38. You spoiled it by referencing a movie I never seen. But then I´ve never seen an Andy Sidoris film to be honest and never knew if I should.

  39. HARD TICKET is a must. The others are optional.

  40. It´s on Youtube! Is heavy drinking required?

  41. RAIDERS is one of my favorite films of all time. I like the STAR WARS franchise, but I prefer Indiana Jones.

    Shoot, HARD TICKET TO HAWAII is amazing. You don’t need to be buzzed to enjoy it but it will not hurt.

  42. ….and it comes with a sleazeball introduction by the man himself and some twat

  43. I have yet to decide if the credits to HARD TICKET are genius or plain lazy

  44. On of the bimbos says she don´t like snakes. Sounds familiar

  45. Apparently Hawaii is not always fun. Good to know.

  46. I vote for genius, and those are not bimbos they are highly trained special agents.

  47. Outsmarted by a miniature chopper. Well played

  48. Charles – Smart man. I feel the same way about Indy Vs. SW. Give me the Dr. Jones trilogy any day of the week. Maybe it’s because they’re the only movies I could bond over with BOTH of my parents besides early Steven Segal pictures (Dr. Jones is clearly in good company there).

    But I never seem to get tired of watching these movies and still watch them pretty regularly to this day. BTTF and the Dollars saga are the only other trilogies I could say that about.

    Whereas I find either Star Wars trilogy kind of exhausting nowadays especially with all of the franchise over exposure I can’t seem to avoid every time I watch TV or find myself around sci-fi fans even though I have 0 intentions of ever watching any new Star Wars.

  49. Damn autocorrect I clearly meant Steven Seagal. I have no idea who this Steven Segal is. For all I know he could be the Bruce Li to Seagal’s Bruce Lee.

  50. Well its not paradise all the time.

  51. HARD TICKET TO HAWAII is a hard watch man. An hour left. Shit

  52. Thanks for one Vern. Great stuff. Love the Lucas revival reviews.

    If you are curious, a radio play style audio version of the RAIDERS STORY CONFERENCE transcript with music and sound effects is available at The Hollywood Gauntlet podcast site (www.hollywoodgauntlet.com) or on iTunes. There is a lot of great insight into the creative process of Lucas and the collaboration involved in writing a screenplay. Enjoy.

  53. Crushinator Jones

    December 11th, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    Yeah I really feel that Star Wars has overexposed itself. It’s everywhere and it’s ridiculous. Also, I don’t like being told that something is supposed to be special and magical and shared with my kids. I’ll make that determination myself, thanks. What that feels like – and what it is – is Disney doing their weird marketing shit where they pretend that they’re inseparable from childhood. Where they ARE a corporate-signified symbol of your childhood. And I don’t like it.

    The final kicker is I can’t even show my kids the version that I watched at their age, GL has made that impossible. I gotta show them a version with just enough changes to make it weird for me. George Lucas didn’t rape my childhood but he did put the Star Wars part of it on ice and it’s not really feasible for me to get to it.

    I don’t love Star Wars any less, but I definitely don’t like what they’re doing with it.

  54. The Original Paul – I saw it lately and was amazed how good was Williams’ score. In the scene where Indy and CIA guys are looking at the picture with the Ark annihilating some poor guys and the theme emerges – you just know it will reemerge later in the movie and shit will go down. And then, after like two hours of build-up, it goes in one of the most wondrous, face-melting, head-exploding sequences of all time. Punctuated with a perfect gag of lid slamming the Ark shut after falling for like a mile? I love older Spielberg, but when he was young and ballsy, his filmatism was pretty badass.

  55. I love that scene where Indy and Marcus tell the government guys about the ark. It’s just a simple scene of guys sitting around talking, but it’s done so well that it really puts you on the edge or your seat for the excitement to come. I like to use, “wiped clean by the wrath of God” when I want to be extra dramatic.

    Spielberg is a master at the ebb and flow of conversation and making it seem natural, rather than people delivering lines. He’s not just great at using the medium of film to tell a visual story, but also a great story teller that knows how to use all the tools in his director’s toolbox. Brings to mind one of his greatest scenes of guys just sitting around talking – Quint’s story in JAWS.

  56. Broddie, my parents too would only watch Charles Bronson, Bud Spencer, Steven Spielberg, Steven Seagal and some Norwegian film series that wouldn’t mean anything to you movies…

  57. Crushinator, you ever get the dvd with the vhs quality version of the theatrical cut? It’s letterboxed at least.

  58. I’m as excited for THE FORCE AWAKENS as much as the next guy, but Star Wars is getting a little over-saturated for me as well, when I go to the grocery store and half the damn items on the shelves are Star Wars themed (even stuff like fucking coffee creamer) you know things have gotten ridiculous, it’s almost enough to make me miss the late 00’s when it seemed like Star Wars was going to recede into the background a bit.

    That’s part of why as much as I love Star Wars I still think Indiana Jones is cooler, Indy has not been as over-saturated as Star Wars, there’s not been half the amount of spin offs as Star Wars, not as many novels, video games etc

    The only difference is there was the YOUNG INDY tv show, which Star Wars never got a TV show (though Lucas tried), but other than that it’s still as over-saturated as Star Wars.

  59. The Original Paul

    December 12th, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Kevin – I know! Williams does some wonderfully subtle work here. He just nails the mood of the film at every turn.

    Maggie – totally agree with you about Spielberg’s mastery of conversation. I keep coming back to CRYSTAL SKULL – the one scene in it that works perfectly for me is two aging professors, sitting in a classroom, just talking as friends.

  60. Despite having to pretty much avoid all Star Wars related news and opinion pieces recently, because it has reached my saturation point, I’m still excited about the new film. Both Indy and Star Wars were in constant rotation when I was younger, and they both are part of the fabric of my pop culture upbringing. Still, I am a little worried about Disney’s idea to release a new Star Wars movie every year. Give those films some space to breathe. I don’t think we need to use the Marvel playbook on every single imaginative world out there.

    Anyway, Raiders showcases Spielberg’s absolute mastery over action filmmaking. Every action sequence feels like its own little narrative with its ups and downs, humor and pathos. He really understood that an action sequence should tell a story. It shouldn’t just be a bunch of guys getting punched. (Most Marvel films could learn a few lessons here, since I mostly find their action to be kind of bland).

  61. The thing I like most about RAIDERS is that it has the best payoff of any movie ever. All through the movie they talk about the devastating power of the Ark and when they finally show it, it doesn’t disappoint.

  62. So I’m finally watching INDY MEETS THE KRYSTAL SKULLS after avoiding it for 7 years because its on USA Network right now. I have to say one thing about it Ford could play Indiana in his sleep just like the loan can with Rocky. This totally feels like the same character I grew up with. Which is great because he was sleepwalking through all his roles before this movie.

    It’s pretty boring so far though. Also the bad CGI and the obvious sets are very distracting. With that said I actually don’t mind Shia LaBeouf in this movie. I’m curious as to how the revelation of him being his son is going to play out. Plus I’m looking forward to seeing Marion again considering that I last saw RAIDERS like a week ago.

  63. I meant Stallone with Rocky I’m using the stupid Google Voice thing and it fucked up.

  64. “the loan” is a perfect nickname for Stallone though.

    You’re right, the one good thing about CRYSTAL SKULL is Indy still feels like Indy, too bad the movie around him is not so hot.

  65. Just rewatched Indy 4 and loved it. I was disappointed when I saw it in the cinema, but for some reason it just went down a whole lot better this time. It’s set-piece after set-piece with a lot of humor, closer in spirit to TEMPLE OF DOOM I thought.

  66. I too thought The Loan was Broddie’s nickname for the Italian Stallion. I might have to steal that.

  67. Yeah, that’s what they call a “happy accident”

  68. I always felt Indy 4 was underrated and to me that chase through the university is one of the best action set pieces of the series.

    I think it’s very telling that when people bring up how bad they thought the movie was it seems like at least 90% of the time the go-to example of badness (fridge scene aside) is the Mutt/monkeys bit. It says a lot to me that so many seemingly judge a two-hour movie by a sequence of only a few seconds. If it’s so across-the-board awful, why aren’t there more “bad” parts?

    I’ve even seen people upset over the “Mutt-picks-up-the-hat” bit, as if it was supposed to indicate that he’s taking over the series, when it explicitly does the opposite by having Indy take it back before Mutt puts it on.

    People really wanted to hate that movie, is what I’m getting at.

  69. That chase scene is allright.

  70. Chase through the uni was indeed pretty cool. Ironically it completely lost me and my full attention after introducing Marion which is what I was looking forward to the most. Specifically after the using the snake as rope bit which I thought was kind of cool humor even though it was super corny pretty consistent with the tone of Last Crusade and stuff.

    The moment the kid starts sword fighting with Cate Blanchett and then swinging with monkeys it started to really lose me. Then when Ray Winstone betrayed Indy AGAIN I tapped out.

    Next thing you know I’m barely looking at the screen and next time I did I see them putting the crystal skull on a crystal body with said body animating itself. Then next time I look after that I see Indy watching some UFO fly away.

    Overall it’s a pretty messy movie and I could see why so many people hate it. But I’m still time thankful that I saw the first act and part of the second because I considered that section of it to be a pretty decent attempt at a new Indiana Jones. At least no worse than the internet would have had many believe.

    It certainly didn’t come across as disingenuous as something like SCREAM 4. It’s no RAMBO (4) either but was more in the vein of something like ELM STREET 4, ROCKY IV or DEATH WISH 4 and even LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD in the sense that it wasn’t the part four that I would have preferred but it’s pretty decent for what it actually is. Especially if you’re a fan of the original movies. With all that said I’m a lot more open minded to a part 5 now then I ever was initially which was never honestly.

  71. The dirty little secret of CRYSTAL’s SKULL is that it was doing okay until Karen Allen arrived and sank it. You get the feeling that she was rusty and in over her head and her director–who didn’t particularly want to be there, as I recall–let her twist in the wind with an enthusiastic but misjudged performance. As soon as she shows up, a fairly bland but acceptable franchise update turned into a cacophony of mugging sidekicks and atmosphere-free green screen. I honestly wish Indy had stayed in the U.S. and fought McCarthyists instead of going off to the soundstage jungle.

  72. I don’t get the hate for INDY 4, but that’s because it’s too damn dull to be hateable. I think it lacked believability. I never quite “bought into” the characters or the situations. The only time it really gripped me was that scene I mentioned earlier with the two professors. Other than that it was the proverbial “all sound and fury, signifying nothing”.

    If I dislike anything about it it’s probably because I saw it on DVD not long after watching HANNA. Both films featured Cate Blanchett as the main villain. The difference between the two characters that she plays is so striking. It’s easy to resent CRYSTAL SKULL for getting a performance that dull out of Blanchett after she was so damn good in HANNA. And I don’t blame Blanchett – it’s the script and direction that’s at fault. Put simply, she has nothing interesting to do.

  73. The first part of INDY 4 is really good, but, yes, it kind of goes downhill at a certain point.

  74. Was Karen Allen really that great an actor in RAIDERS? I thought she was just okay, I liked her. She was appealing because of her ordinariness, which played well off Ford’s matinee idol looks, and kind of grounded Jones’ adventures.

  75. Karen Allen is not ordinary. She is a very pretty. She’s a “type” which is tomboyish. As for her acting, I absolutely bought her as this tough-talking (but soft-hearted) broad who just wanted to get her slice of the pie. Of course, the pie ends up being named “Indiana Jones” but this is a genre movie through and through.

  76. Also, nuke fridge was an hilarious looney tunes inspired scene. Perhaps not fitting with the series, but still…made me laugh at it’s absurdity.

  77. Best scene in the movie by far.

  78. I actually liked the nuke the fridge scene, it’s effectivly creepy when Indy realizes eveyrone in the town is a mannequin, it’s an effective “oh shit, how’s he going to get out of this one?” moment when the countdown begins and it was hilarious seeing the fridge fly through the air.

    If people thought it was in any way supposed to be “realistic” they’re missing the point, it’s supposed to be absurd.

  79. This the same guy that fell out of a falling plane riding a raft and then landing on a mountain & that didn’t kill him. I think sometimes people don’t get the point of Indiana Jones. It’s supposed to be absurd it’s throwback to b movie serials modern action adventure course on actual physics or science.

  80. Whoops.

    NOT a modern etc.

  81. Anyway, I just wanted to throw out some thoughts about the Indy franchise as a whole.

    I think part of the secret to RAIDERS success is despite it’s pulp inspiration, how relatively down to Earth and believable it feels, Indy, as cool and badass as he is, is not perfect, as Vern pointed out he comes close to blowing it several times, he gets hurt, he survives through blind luck sometimes, he’s not an unstoppable superhero and that’s what makes him also believable as a character, there’s just enough John McClane in him to make him grounded.

    And there’s all sorts of subtle details in the movie that emphasize that, like the fact that during the prologue in Peru he doesn’t actually succeed in getting the treasure, it’s letting the audience know that he’s not perfect.

    Some other brilliant details that ground the movie is the fact that he’s after a real Biblical artifact, that also grounds the movie more than if he was in Egypt looking for some made up “the magic staff of Ra” or something, the fact that the bad guys are the Nazis adds historical weight as well, basically I think that there was just enough New Hollywood grittiness left over in the early 80’s that had an influence on RAIDERS, it’s like you’re seeing the “real life” version of the pulp stories of the 1930’s.

    This is part of the problem with TEMPLE OF DOOM is that it’s way, way pulpier than RAIDERS, it doesn’t feel as grounded, not as believable, it’s absolutely fun in it’s own pulpy way, but I can see why audiences were maybe a bit put off in 84, maybe the best to think of TEMPLE OF DOOM is, since it takes place before RAIDERS, it’s Indy telling a story in a bar one night and obviously jazzing up some of the details of what happened (for example maybe he found Willie more annoying then she really was, hence why she’s so over the top)

    Put it to you this way, I think TEMPLE OF DOOM was maybe not that great of a script (it was written by the people that gave us HOWARD THE DUCK after all), but the strength of Spielberg’s direction is what saves it, I just love the dark, dank environments of the film and that mine cart sequence is second to none.

    Then we have LAST CRUSADE which brings back many elements from RAIDERS, which I think was a smart choice, but adds more backstory to Indy, with his relationship with his father and stuff, that I think brings back the more grounded feel of the first film, which is good.

    I think one of the mains problems with CRYSTAL SKULL is there’s all these different ideas that got built up over the 19 years between LAST CRUSADE and it (“what if Indy had a son? What if Indy encountered aliens? What if he fought the Russians?”) and they never really form a cohesive whole.

  82. What a great movie. Though I have to laugh at Dana Gould’s quip about how Indy is in reality totally superfluous since he fails but the Ark ends up defending itself from the Nazi’s anyways. I guess you can say the same thing about LAST CRUSADE and KOTCS as well.

    The main problem I had with KOTCS was that it just was not enjoyable or well done enough (it looked cheap) to cover up the basic conceptual issues I had. I just don’t think it makes any sense to have little green men style aliens in a universe in which the Ark of the Covenant is a real thing.

  83. The problem with the jungle chase in INDY 4 is that Indy doesn´t do jack shit. He drives a car, for the entire chase ,that is what he does.

  84. Phillip- if the aliens were behind ancient civilisations and gave birth to the mythology of creations, maybe they were the ones behind “wrath of God” in the Ark.

  85. I’ve never been bothered by what’s realistic or not in adventure/action movies. When I watch Indiana Jones, James Bond or Tennessee Buck I want them to pour as much weird shit on the story as possible. Aliens, demons, ancient gods, dinosaurs and flying cars, you name it…Realistic is overrated.

  86. The whole “Indiana Jones is superfluous” is silly because without him his father and Marion would have died. Marion would have been tortured to death in Nepal to get the medallion and his father would have been dragged around the back of the castle, shot, and buried in a shallow grave somewhere after he was unable to help find the Grail. Temple of Doom would have had a bunch of kids slaving away in a mine until they died of malnutrition and so did their village.

    So yeah, the cultural heritage is protected, but the people wouldn’t be.

  87. Crushinator, I think that rather misses the point of the joke. RAIDERS is no more the story of a woman being saved from the Nazis by her ex-lover than it is a story about a cut-throat rivalry in the field of archaeology. These are threads of the narrative, but the overarching story of RAIDERS is about trying to keep the Nazis from getting the most powerful weapon ever constructed. And in that, Indy is oddly superfluous for a great hero. Ditto for CRUSADE, which is broadly about trying to keep the Nazis from acquiring the key to immortality.

  88. Majestyk, where did you hear Spielberg didn’t want to make Crystal Skull?

    Pegsman, I agree. Making sense is the enemy of creativity.

  89. Shoot– Yeah, that could have been an acceptable way for them to do it. Or they could have said aliens aren’t really aliens, they’re angels. The show SUPERNATURAL did the same kind of thing. They had an episode where you were led to believe little green men were behind some nasty business, but it turned out aliens aren’t real and it was faeries all along. I liked that. It made sense within the SUPERNATURAL universe that it would be something like that. If it had been little green men it would have been stupid, like INDY 4.

  90. The Original Paul

    December 16th, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Don’t mistake “realistic” and “believable”. There are plenty of films out there that are completely unrealistic in terms of the world that they create, but the characters’ actions and the events that happen within that world are believable.

    I have no problems whatsoever with Indy discovering Aliens as a concept. All of my problems with that film stem from bad execution.

  91. Fred: My understanding was that he was never happy with the script but he went along with it because Ford and Lucas signed off on it. That could just be the Hollywood telephone game but the last third of the film definitely does not seem like the work of an artist who is particularly engaged with the material.

  92. I think the issue with CRYSTAL SKULL was that they were taking a formula that everyone had already bought into and loved (updated 1930s adventure serials) and tried to combine it with another (1950s sci-fi aliens and fear of the A-bomb and bikers with pompadours) and it didn’t work. It’s nice in theory to try to take Indy into his own modern times, but it didn’t pan out in practice. Don’t get me wrong, I actually enjoyed the movie, but it was nowhere as good as the previous installments. Maybe it’s like Majestyk is suggesting and Spielberg wasn’t very gung ho about it. Had there been a director more excited about meshing Indy into the 50s aesthetic it could’ve worked.

  93. Well, I think the parts that were the most 50s–and thus the most distinct to this movie–were the most successful. It’s the parts where it went on Indiana Jones auto-pilot, with a bunch of genetic virtually-indistinguishable-from-Nazis driving vehicles around an indeterminate jungle that it stopped being interesting. I would have liked it more if it really leaned into the 50s-specific stuff and did more with the Cold War/Red Menace/UFO Scare stuff. Another booby-trapped temple might be a staple of the series but it has nothing to do with the era the movie is set in, so it just feels like a bland retread.

  94. Majestyk, I can see why booby-trapped temples might seem to belong more to the 1930s than the 1950s, but tell that to the ancient architects who built them.

    “Look here, Jaguar Paw, you’d better design this thing so that it can be found and disabled only by a later civilization whose Art Deco instincts are compatible with our own preference for visual density. If that civilization finds it just two decades later when Brutalist architecture is in vogue, it will bring shame to your descendants.”

    On another note, CRYSTAL SKULL’s controversial “ancient astronauts” theme was more fashionable in the late 1960s and 1970s, so if anything I might argue that CRYSTAL SKULL is set too early, not too late.

  95. The question of Marion’s drinking ability has always perplexed me…

    She seems to go shot-for-shot with a Mongolian cowboy and, as Vern says, is speaking clearly (and shooting straight) at the end of it. BUT I don’t recall that the audience saw any of those shots get poured…?

    Compare her drinking contest with Belloq, where they split a fifth in his tent – we see him open it – and when the time comes for Marion to make her escape she is clearly more buzzed than she wants to be!

    But there’s only 18 shots in a fifth (give or take) – not 32! – and judging from the level of the bottle at the point when Marion pulls the knife, they’ve had at least 6 shots each. So, either the high altitude in Nepal makes Abner Ravenwood’s daughter 5 times more resistant to alcohol than the average woman of equivalent body mass, at sea level… or she was hustling her customers.

    And, well… if you’re Marion, I guess that’s the move. Go double or nothing on the bar tab, collect a percentage of the side bets from your regulars, and bat your eyelashes. What else is a lady going to do to make a profit – dance on top of the bar like the chicks from “Coyote Ugly”?

  96. Just got tickets to a showing of this at the Cinerama in a couple of weeks, as part of a series about movies with…good soundtracks, I guess? (I’m a little unclear on the theme of this festival). Either way, I’m excited- it’s one of my favorite movies from small times and I’ve never gotten the chance to see it on the big screen. Should be fun.

  97. Is there nothing better than seeing a movie you love that you’ve only seen on the small screen…on the big screen for the first time. It’s a pretty amazing experience.

  98. Stern- In the 13 years I’ve been in Austin I’ve been fortunate enough to re-experience movies I’ve seen on the big screen as a kid (CLUE, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA) or see movies on the big screen that were made before I was born (LARRY OF ARABIA, 2001, NORTH BY NORTHWEST), but I have yet to experience that particular phenomena. Maybe it’s coz I didn’t have cable as a kid. Hell, I’ve seen RAIDERS a couple of times in the last few years alone. The Kurgan is gonna have a grand old time with it for sure. Maybe the Alamo will do a showing of TRIGGER HAPPY or SHALLOW GRAVE so I can get that experience.

  99. RAIDERS is definitely one I wish I could watch at the cinema. Same with APOCALYOSE NOW and I’m tight I could not make any IMAX screening of the “final”* cut.

    *as if Coppola will ever be truly satisfied with it. If he’s still around I expect a new 50th anniversary cut down a few years down the line.

  100. I just smoked a roach while drinking my first cup of coffee of the day. So please forgive my hilarious mispelling of APOCALYPSE.

  101. I said it before: I wish I would live in a city where those retro screenings would be more common. Last time I was in Toronto, they advertised screenings of fucking MORTAL KOMBAT and THE WIZARD for fucks sake! We don’t get any of that shit here!

    I should open my own movie theatre. With black jack, hookers and screenings of classics.

    BTW, I heard that STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE will get a limited re-release in the US soon. Y’all should definitely check it out. This is a movie, that needs to be seen on the big screen. I grew up seeing it on TV, interrupted by dozens of commercial breaks and hated it. Back in 98 I caught it during a Star Trek night in a big city movie theatre and holy shit, it’s actually pretty awesome and extremely breathtaking to look at!

  102. I’ll keep an eye out for that. It was always my least favorite and I always wanted to give it a real chance to win me over. 7TH HEAVEN guy’s prominent role in light of his piece of shit real life shenanigans being exposed did not help make my last viewing any pleasant. I’m usually good at seperating artist from monster (I still fuck with Mel’s new movies) but I guess it was just too fresh in my mind at that time. Nevertheless in light of NU TREK and all the bullshit happening with the new TV show it’ll be refreshing to see something that is just actually Trek being well…Trek.

  103. The last sentence is kinda weird, considering how both THE MOTION PICTURE and all of the modern TREK are both 100% STAR TREK at its core, but presented in a completely different and updated for modern (by the time of production) visual and storytelling ways, which make them look like they are not TREK at all and are because of this hated by fans, but I had this discussion too many times over the last few years.

    So let’s just leave it with: Watch THE MOTION PICTURE on the big screen, although I totally forgot that one of the lead guest stars is a pedophile.

  104. Well CJ to be fair I never watched 2009’s sequels but did hear the last one goes beyond dirtbikes and is the most Trek out of the 3. I was just put off by STAR TREK’s insistance on modernizing Trek by making it more like Star Wars.

    It’s like trying to make Jason more like Freddy. That’s not really for me and the first movie in a “new” franchise always set the precedence so I just decided then and there instead of watching the sequels to something I didn’t really like and complaining about how I don’t like them either.

    As far as Discovery goes all I know is the production horror stories and how Fuller (who was an appeal to me about the show) left on ugly terms. I wasn’t gonna bother to pay CBS for something that could’ve been a big mess. The Picard trailer got me considering a subscription though. I could catch up with it then.

  105. I wonder what a wisecracking Jason F13 would look like.

    I moved to Denver thinking I wasn’t going to get old movie screenings coming from Chicago. Turns out there are now three different Alamo Drafthouse (with supposed at least two more on the way at some point) and there are other theates that do it. For example, the Landmark Esquire theater here does midnight showings. In a month we’re getting The Warriors, The Thing, Halloween and a Nightmare on Elm Street.

    Also, Disney purchasing 20th Century Fox now makes it impossible to show Fox movies on the big screen so that Raiders screening is something you’re not going to see much anymore.

    Additionally, I sometimes wish I had the power to book older movies on the big screen but I feel like there isn’t a market for PM Entertainment movies.

  106. Oh man, I recently caught part of THE MOTION PICTURE on a HUGE TV-but with no sound (my after-work bar just gives me the remote when I get there), and I am now absolutely STOKED to go see it on the big screen. I’m now fairly certain that the first (only?) time I watched it I was just too young to appreciate the majesty, the grandiosity of it.

    That said, I hope whoever did the costuming for that movie was blackballed from ever working in Hollywood again. Outside of bearded swinger disco McCoy, those costumes were THE WORST.

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