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Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Last Crusade: 1989

   Here we are.  The last Indiana Jones film.  Well...almost, but I'll address that later.  The year was 1989, and Steven Spielberg and George Lucas had finished, what was then the last rendition of Indiana Jones' adventures.  The chronicle was coming to a close, and they decided to end on a high note.  Well, they did, and although not as good as the first film, it came in at a close second.  My guess was that, they went back to the basics.  They had a chance to experiment, and it did well, however you can see that they played it safe with this film.  It goes back to biblical artifacts, like the first film, and uses the same villains, the Nazi's.  Hopefully this review won't become too identical to that of, "Raiders of the Lost Ark,"  but I'll try to finish strong with our third film in the franchise entitled, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade."  Enjoy.

   Remember how I said that the only two films that would include character development, was this one, and the fourth one.  I suppose that before the trilogy ended, the film makers decided to give Indiana Jones some character.  But, why?  Was it to show us that he once had a past?  Well, you could say that because the opening scene does show us young Indiana Jones, and his struggle to keep an ancient artifact,  The Cross of Coronado, away from some archaeologists that obviously only wanted it for the money.  But that's been the general plot of the other films, so they're basically rehashing something we already knew about.  Nevertheless, The opening to, "The Last Crusade" is a very engaging one, even though it technically gives us no new information whatsoever.  But lets start with the actual plot of the film.

   The film is set in 1939, and the plot involves our hero searching for The Holy Grail, which the film described as, "The challis used by Christ during the last supper."  It was explained that whoever found the grail and drank from it, would be endowed with immortality.  Who wants the grail?  Why the Nazi's of course!  Who's trying to get to it before they do?  Why, Indiana Jones!  So, the story really just follows Raiders,  but with a few extra tweaks to the characters and the plot.  However, I like that they generally make these characters useless during the climax of the film where Jones is chasing the tank, because it adds more tension to the film.  It's like Indy's carrying everyone on his shoulders, and you really want to see him clear this last hurdle.  Now, there is a very important character that Indy brings along in this film.  That man is his father.

          Dr. Henry Jones is played by Sean Connery,  and I think that doing this was a fantastic choice.  Although not helping in the action packed parts of the film, (his earlier career took care of that) other than just accompanying him, he does provide the bantering necessary to give exposition without annoying the audience.  I don't know, I think it's his voice.  Jones' father is meant to provide us with (you guessed it) more character development!  Oh, and the reason that he's in this film, if you were wondering, is because he was captured by the Nazi's, to help them find the holy grail.  Jones explains to Donovan that, "Grail-lore is his hobby."  My only complaint with his character is that, although he appears in some quirky action scenes, it does weaken his quote on quote, "badassedness."  But nonetheless, while viewing the film, Sean Connery did add allot of fresh material for Indiana Jones to work with in the film, and at least I was able to care about him.

   Dr. Elsa Schneider is our damsel in distress, in, "The Last Crusade."  I believe that adding this character was very smart.  She is intelligent, knows her history, and pretty.  She seemed like a formidable candidate for Jones to save.  That is until we get a twist in the film, and find out who she really is.  Don't worry if you haven't seen the film I won't spoil it.  Anyway, I did like the including of this twist, because it was what really separated itself from, "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

Note:  The only reason that I am not writing a paragraph on the villain,is because I would just be repeating my paragraph from my, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" review.  There is also another twist...

It's that time of the review where I pick apart the film's action scenes.

1.  The opening chase scene on the train:

"Quick!  Derp face...activate!"

2.  The fight on the boat, during the storm:

"Oh no...I didn't get that joke...who are the aristocrats?"

3.  The speedboat chase scene in Italy:

"Wait...I don't even KNOW how to drive a boat!"

4.  Marcus Brody is captured

"Ohhhh man... Something's about to go down.  I just know it!"

5.  The Jones escape in a sidecar from the Nazi's


6.  The Jones boys escape the Nazi blimp with the plane

    "What happens at eleven o-clock?"

7.  Jones saves his father, and Marcus from a tank

  Suddenly the gravity of the situation sinks into Indy's head...

"Dad, you really seem less of a badass lying down like that." 

8.  The three trials


   So, that's the Indiana Jones franchise for you.  They are simply, well made, highly budgeted, action/adventure films.  Every time I watch them I enjoy them, and if you haven't heard of these films, check them out.  At times the culture can be a little racist, and the characters loud and obnoxious, but films like this are meant to have some cut-outs.  I think this aspect works, because the whole reason Spielberg and Lucas made these films was to pay homage to the classic adventure serials such as Flash Gordon, and movies like, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre."  Heck, if you've ever wondered how George Lucas came up with the idea to have a chapter recap of the last film in the Star Wars films, take a look at, "Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe."

     Look Familiar?

   But, I'm not here to write about Star Wars.  I just wanted to take you back to a time where something as action and adventure-packed could be made.  Never again would we see something like this.  After the three films, it would be the last we would ever see of an attempt to recreate the yesteryear's of cinema... least that's what we thought


Next Review:  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull  2008

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Temple of Doom: 1984

   This is, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," the sequel to its incredibly high grossing successor, "Raider's of the Lost Ark."  By now Indiana Jones had developed a recognized name.  In order to cash in on his name while continuing his adventures, this film was made in 1984, by director Steven Spielberg, and writer/director George Lucas.  Sadly, this film went the way of the less amusing sequel.  However, it's a fair addition to our hero's adventures, and I will explain why.  Welcome to my review of "The Temple of Dooooooooooooooom!"

   "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," is about our hero accidentally traveling to India and into a small village where he is pressured into retrieving a sacred rock which our film calls a, "Shankara Stone."  It is told in the film that there are three of these stones in total, and that when brought together, can unleash a great power.  Now I think that the film makers sat down and asked themselves, "what's worse than a Nazi?"  And one guy must have just said, " a...Cult Leader?"  Or, something like that.  And I'm not lying either! The villain is a cult leader, and his idea of fun is...going around villages

   Actually this is probably the most creative villain in the Indiana Jones trilogy, because this guy is totally insane!  Any scarred person would do what he does and love it.  Look at his face!  You know that he's got no shame in the line of work he's taken up.  I'm sure that once his, "term" as cult leader is up, he won't hesitate to add, "worked four years teaching voodoo to a young maharajah, lead hundreds of cult followers, and practiced hundreds of long lost Thugee rituals which involved a cage that looked like a waffle iron, the most efficient method of heart surgery, and a pit of death," to his resume.  Wait, do cult leaders even have terms, or is it a life commitment thing?  So then, what do they do when you get too old?  Do you, the cult leader, go into the waffle iron or do you just leave the cave.  But wait, how could you have gotten past all of the traps?  wait, if the traps were set up to keep trespassers out, then did the cult followers have to sexually harass a statue before entering the cult every time?  Alright.... whoa...we are going way off track here.  Next, lets talk about our supporting cast, Willie Scott, and Short Round.

   Willie Scott is this film's, "damsel in distress."  She first appears in the very beginning of the film, covering the title!  You think, "well, this could be interesting.  She can act, she's a stage performer, and she can speak Mandarin!  It's very different from Marian's character in the first film, but I can see liking this character a lot."  Yea, she's the most annoying character Iv'e ever had the pleasure of knowing.  It's all great until she starts talking, and then it's all down hill from there.  You don't really care about her at all throughout the film, and it really doesn't help that she gets captured and almost sacrificed and all  your thinking is, "Alright, the sooner she gets offed, the more time this film has left to redeem itself."  I know that they might have been thinking if they make her character more reckless, the more pressure it will have on Indiana Jones in order to save her.  But it doesn't work if the audience doesn't care about her!  Willie Scott is the worst damsel in distress of the series, and it really begins to dawn on you halfway through the film.  All she does is complain, and you'll hear, "IIIIIIIIIInnnnnnnnddddddddiiiiiiiii!" more than any other line of dialog.  

   Short Round was a character thrown into the whole side-kick mix of things to make the film appeal more to children.  This is also the character who will spew more catch phrases than Spiderman!  Okay, well maybe not that much, but read some of the catch phrases he's got in his short, round head:
  1. Okey dokey Dr. Jones!  Hold on to your potatoes!"
  2. Wow!  Crash landing!"
  3. "Ha Ha Ha!  Very funny!  Ha Ha Ha!"
  4. "Hang on lady, we going for a ride!"
  5. "He no nuts." "He's crazy!
  6. "You say to stand against the wall! I listen to what you say! Not my fault! Not my fault!"
   But, regardless, it does seem like Short Round was the actor that had the most fun with his role, and he's actually less annoying than Willie Scott.  However, I don't that his character was treated well.  Although Indy takes Short Round under his wing, after sparing him when trying to pickpocket him, Short Round doesn't appear in the next Indiana Jones Adventure.  This begs the question, "What happened to Short Round?" Well here are some possibilities:  Indy ditches Short Round on the elephant in the Indian village.  The Indian woman who shared a great deal of interest in Short Round when they arrive in the town kidnaps him.  Indy sells Short Round to the village leader.  Or, Short Round dies when the ship is blown up in the beginning of the third film. 

Alright, it's that time in the review again where I recount the action scenes in the film.  Lets get started.

1.  The restaurant in Shanghai and the car chase

"Here, hold my watch.  I need to take care of some guy looking at me funny." 

 "I don't have a name for it...but...It's the new way to travel."

2.  The plane crash and sliding down a mountain, into a river, and off of a waterfall on a raft.

"Do I have something stuck in my teeth?"


3.  Jones is attacked in his room

 "Yes, Dr. Jones.  Once I kill you with this deadly piece of string, your stylish hat will be all mine.....MMMUUUHHHAAAHHHHAAAHHAAA!"


"Alright folks....who wants to bet one of those bugs is gonna fly right down her throat?"

"Hey man, you told him to stand against the wall."  "It's not his fault."

5.  The Thuggee ceremony    

"This place has, "sacrilege" written all over it!"

6.  Jones and Short Round get tortured

"Pucker up, buttercup!"

7.  Willie Scott is sacrificed


8.  Jones fights the muscle

"Ahhhhh!  I BID MY DOUNGE!"

9.  Mine cart escape

"Weeeeeee!  We're all gonna die!"

10.  Climax on the Bridge


   Well, that concludes all of the action sequences in, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."  I have to say that this was the most violent, strangest, and most culturally offensive of the three films.  The sad part was that, for the longest time, I thought that this was the only Indiana Jones film that existed when I was younger.  This was because, believe it or not, it was the only Indiana Jones I had seen, and was one of the only films, IN SCHOOL, I watched as a child.  Yes, my elementary school actually showed us this film, not just once, but several times!  I suppose that they could argue that they couldn't show the first or third film because those films mostly focused on sections of the Bible.  But, regardless, this was a very good addition to the Indiana Jones franchise.  And if you want to learn a bit more on the whole cult aspect of the film, there do exist other movies that use Thuggee traditions, such as the film, Gunga Din. Well, thank you for reading, and I hope that you will read my next review from the franchise entitled, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!"

Watch the Trailer

Next Review:  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade  1989 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Raiders Of The Lost Ark: 1981

   What can you say about Indiana Jones?  He's one of the most recognized icons of the action/adventure film genre!  Women want him, just as much as men want to become him.  He's the epitome of masculinity, lives a very classy home-life, and atop that, he's a collage professor with his own PhD!  In my opinion, Indiana Jones was film director Steven Spielberg's greatest creation.  And, here I am now, a mere 30 years after the first film was released to talk about all of them.  Yes, even that one that proved that if a refrigerator is lead-lined you can survive an atomic blast while inside it.  Welcome to my reviews of...The Indiana Jones franchise!  First on the list:  Raiders of the Lost Ark!

  Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is about an Archaeologist/Doctor named Henry Jones Jr. ('Indiana' is more of an alias), who goes on expeditions in order to retrieve ancient historical artifacts and put them in museums.  The artifact he is searching for in this film is from Jewish religious history called , "The Ark of the Covenant," which the film explains as the chest the Hebrew used to carry around the Ten Commandments with.  However, in order to keep the film from becoming a religious documentary, Spielberg added some extra-fantasy elements to the realism of it.  The film explains further, that whoever carries the ark is invincible because they will have with them, "the destructive power of god."  So, the films revolves around the conflict between Indiana Jones finding the artifact before the villains do.  Who are the villains you might ask?  Why only the worst of the worst, Nazi's!

   It's kind of a match made in heaven.  A keeper of the past to preserve power is threatened by the very people that want to harness it for world domination!  I suppose that this way they thought that, instead of wasting time trying to get the viewer to hate the villain, they'd just make em' Natzi's!  Well, alrighty then.  There's really not much left to say about the villain in this film, only because they don't waste time on it.  These films never really were about character development (if you don't count the third and fourth film) and I think it should have stayed that way.  The villain is the villain because he's a Natzi.  The hero is the hero because he carry's a whip, and wears a fedora and leather jacket.  The damsel is the damsel because she is young, gets captured or is stuck in a dangerous situation.  Its massive appeal to most action/adventure going audiences.  It was simple, so it worked.

   Now I'm not going to spend an entire paragraph talking about Indiana Jones himself.  Instead lets start with our female lead, Marian.  Out of the two female leads in the three films, I think Marian is the best.  She's smart, pretty, gambles, strong, and can hold her liquor.  It really seems like a good match for her to be next to our hero, because they're very much the same.  You might be asking, "what about the whole, 'opposites attract' deal?"  Well, they did try doing something like that in the second film...and... I'll save that for the next review.

  The action sequences are the highlights of the Indiana Jones films.  It goes to show that Spielberg is the master of the action adventure genre.  In this Paragraph I'm going to count all of the action sequences.

1.  The South American Temple to retrieve an idol, and being chased by the giant boulder

The 'Indiana Jones' moves into, "Predator Stance"

   "Who put that boulder there?!"

2. Escaping from the Natives.

"Maybe if I'm real quiet, no one will notice the huge ripple of water giving me away."

3.  The fight inside Marian's tavern

 "I should get insurance on this place...y' case anything happens to it"

4.  The fight outside of the town where Salah lives

"Maybe if I do that thing I saw in, 'The Matrix," I could dodge the bullet..."

5.  Marian and Jones in the snake pit

"Snakes...Why'd it have to be snakes...?"

6.  The fight around the plane with the turret

Indiana Jones Vs. German Muscle...Fight!

If you give a girl a turret, then she will go insane

7.  Jones on horseback hijacking the truck with the Ark in it

"It's surprising how many other action films rip this scene off" 

8.  The Ark unleashes its powers

"That's the biggest math problem I've ever seen in my life..."

   Anyway, that concludes my review of the first Indiana Jones film.  It really is a masterpiece of film making, and you wonder how such a simple premise could be so involving.  This is probably the best of the three films, and it really does show.  The quality of the sets are amazing, and there is as much care put into them as a Star Wars set.  I even think that George Lucas had some influence on the architecture, instead of simply the witting.  Well, that about does it, and I intend to go through all of these films, analyzing and evaluating as I go.  I'm looking forward to my next review of, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!"

Watch the Trailer
Next Review:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom  1984