ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Movies & Movie Reviews

A Look Back at Indiana Jones

Updated on October 10, 2012

I remember when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull hit theaters back in 2008. My family saw it before I did, and they each told me that it was nothing but a great big botch. I looked up the film online, and found out a lot of other people felt the same way about it. It even won a Razzie the next year in a category which also featured the hideous The Day the Earth Stood Still remake (how The Day the Earth Stood Still lost to Indy 4, I'll never know). Yet when I sat down to watch it in theaters, I was pleasantly surprised with it. I had had a long week at work when I went to go see it, and my expectations were already so low because of all the hate surrounding it. So, when I sat down in my chair, I told myself that I wasn't expecting anything other than a silly and goofy adventure spectacle, and that's exactly what I got.


Actually, that's what I usually get when I see an Indiana Jones film. None of these films are necessarily a beacon of realism, yet that's what makes them so much fun. From their opening frames to their closing shots, each film succeeds in one way or another to take you on a adventure that couldn't possibly happen in the world that lies beyond the theater exit. That's what makes each of them so special. The first film is, of course, the best in the series, but the other films worked in ways that bears mentioning. Here are my reviews for the Indiana Jones films.


RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina


A cinematic tour-de-force in every sense of the term, Raiders of the Lost Ark opens up with an exhilarating, gasp-inducing action scene (when hero Indiana Jones runs from a giant boulder) and never lets up from there. Director Steven Spielberg really tops himself with this one, delivering a succession of eye-popping special-effects and tension-filled action set-pieces at such a lightning pace that you hardly have time to breathe. And yet, as much action and eye-candy as this movie has, it still makes room for a truly sensational storyline. Harrison Ford is Indiana Jones, a college professor/ adventure-seeking archeologist who is sent by the FEDS to retrieve the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler and his army gets their dirty little paws on it. Karen Allen is an absolute joy as Marion Ravenwood, the requisite damsel who is just as tough, spunky, and resoureceful as Indiana himself. The screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan is filled with sharp dialogue and many unforgettable scenes (I loved the moment between Indiana and a masked swordsman during a chase through Cairo), while Harrison Ford brings limitless charisma to the role, resulting in a character who has rightfully been considered something of a cinematic legend. Truly a treasure for anyone who has even a modicum of love for movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the unsurpassable adventure blockbuster by which future entries must be judged.

**** (out of ****)

INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Amrish Puri, Ric Young

Although vastly inferior to its immediate predecessor, Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom is nevertheless a fast, frenetic, immensely enjoyable popcorn flick with some terrific action scenes and eye-popping special-effects. That fact alone is enough to give it a solid recommendation. Since we came to know Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) pretty well in the original movie, Spielberg shuns aside character development and over-abundance of exposition and dives straight into the action. The story is simple and gets right to the point. Along with the help of a young Asian kid named Short Round (Ke Quan) and an annoying night club singer (Capshaw), Indiana seeks to retrieve a magical stone for a poor Indian village that was stolen by a cult leader (Puri) bent on world domination. The stone, the villagers believe, is integral to their way of life; without it, their crops will die out and their river will dry up. Capshaw is an insufferably irritating addition to this adventure story, and Lucas and Spielberg give the movie an aggressively dark tone that seems inconsistent with an Indiana Jones picture (scenes of small children being tortured, demonic possession, and one instance where a character gets his heart ripped out of him and is lowered into a lava pit). Still, the art direction, production design, and cinematography are all first-rate here, offering up a number of startling visual images that stay wth you long after the film has ended. On top of that, Spielberg creates a vast number of action set-pieces that are just as exhilarating as Raiders, with a mine cart chase easily the movie's highlight. While Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is far from a perfect film, it fits the entertainment bill as well as you could hope.

*** (out of ****)

INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, Julian Glover, Michael Byrne, River Phoenix

After opening up with a small masterpiece of action scene - in which we learn how a young Indiana Jones (the late River Phoenix) got to be the fedora-wearing, whip-cracking, ophidiophobic adventurer that we all know and love - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade jump into a story that seems all too familiar of the original movie. Once again, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) must track down yet another religious artifact which the Nazis want to get their dirty little fingers on (although this time instead of the Ark of the Covenant, it's the Holy Grail). So what's new? Apart from Indiana teaming up with his sourpuss dad (a delightful Sean Connery) and the fact that the leading lady (a sexy Alison Doody) turns out to be a villain, nothing much; yet in this case, the repitition isn't too much of a bad thing, for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is such an exhilarating, lightning paced, sumptuously visualized (Douglas Slocombe's widescreen images are truly eye-catching) feel good action adventure that you probably won't care either way. As if to compensate for the previous installments off-puttingly dark vibe, director Steven Spielberg gives the movie a light, frothy tone that is actually quite charming. Jeffrey Boam writes up a screenplay filled with sharp and quotable dialogue and compelling subplots (the relationship between Ford and Connery is the highlight of the movie), and with Spielberg once again delivering a number of exciting, flawlessly editted action set-pieces, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade ends up being, like the original, one of the greatest adventure spectacles of all-time.

*** 1/2 (out of ****)

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouff, Karen Allen, John Hurt


While it's sort of a step down from its exhilarating 1989 predecessor, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull is still a terrifically entertaining bit of summer movie fun. While director Steven Spielberg handles the story - which follows Indy (Ford) as he teams up with young hot shot Mutt (LaBeouff, a lot of fun) to obtain the titular artifact before the Nazis (led by Blanchett's mind-reading femme fatale) can get it - with the same sort of spirit, energy, and humor that he brought to the original movie, he's also given the movie an insanely cartoonish vibe that may turn off some viewers. Indiana Jones is now a superhuman, it seems, being able to survive a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead lined refrigerator (I'm not kidding) and somehow managing to avoid breaking any bones after falling off a trio of incredibly deadly waterfalls. With Indy now as invincible as Superman, the movie does loose any attempts it may have had in generating suspense, yet the movie compensates for this drawback by offering a series of extraordinary action-set-pieces and mind-blowing special effects. Ford is just as winningly charismatic as he was in the previous installments, and fans will also rejoice with the return of Karen Allen's Marion Ravenwood, who is just as spunky and resourceful as she was in the original installment. Nostalgic, good-natured, and fast paced to boot, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull may not be as good as the other movies (with the exception of Temple of Doom), but it sure left a big ol' smile on my face!

*** (out of ****)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago

      Hmmm...I wonder which of the two accounts is accurate. I guess we may never know, lol.

    • priley84 profile image
      Author

      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      I'm not sure. I heard Mr. Connery turned down the role because he enjoyed retirement too much. :P

    • profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago

      I heard that they decided to spend the money on the fridge scene instead of paying to have Sean Connery in the film...anyone else hear about that?

    • priley84 profile image
      Author

      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      I actually do get a chuckle now out of that fridge scene whenever I see. The Tarzan scene, however, was a bad misstep; probably the only scene in the film where I did sort of cringe. Despite those flaws, Crystal Skull is an underrated adventure film.

      Thabks for reading. :)

    • priley84 profile image
      Author

      priley84 5 years ago from Warner Robins, Ga

      I thought the last scene with the ship taking off was hokey, but by that time, I was having too much fun to care. :)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Glad someone else agrees to give Crystal Skull a second chance. While it certainly wasn't up there with the classics and while it did have a couple of missteps ( Jones surviving nuclear explosion in a Fridge, The insane monkey/vine/Tarzan sequence, the final Alien bits...) it is several cuts above any other film... Thanks for the trip down the memory lane.

    • profile image

      Danielle 5 years ago

      I'm glad to see someone else like LaBeouff in Crystal Skull! I never understood why so many people seemed to blame him for the movie not being as well liked. I liked Crystal Skull pretty well, except for the alien aspect...that felt as unnecessary as the use of Yetis in the third Mummy movie.