Friday, July 15, 2011
Indiana Jones Revisited
So, I've recently gone back and re-watched as well as re-evaluated the "Indiana Jones" series. Some opinions have changed, and I was even surprised by some of my viewpoints. I suspect some of this will be a little controversial, but here we are.
"Raiders of the Lost Ark" is still my favorite, and still by far, the best movie in the series. And not just by a little, by a lot. What made this movie work as well as it did? The chemistry between Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones and Karen Allen's Marion Ravenwood. These two made this movie, it wasn't just Ford alone, and the sequels suffer from her absence. Belloq was a great foil for Indy, and the bespectacled Gestapo agent, Arnold Toht, was perhaps the most terrifying character of the entire series. The plot was fun, and over the top without being two over the top and the film deserves its iconic status.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is widely considered to be the weakest of the trilogy. I have since come to disagree with that assessment, but I will get to that later. Yes, Willie Scott and Short Round were both terribly annoying and useless characters who do bring the movie down. But, I still like this movie. I thought the setting was terrific, and the movie had a level of darkness to it that is not often seen in movies like this. Mola Ram is a terrifying and memorable movie villain who tattoos himself into your memory with but one scene. It shouldn't have been a prequel, they could have easily done a sequel without Nazis, and Marion should have been in this instead of Willie.
I can't help but wonder why Mola Ram didn't rip Willie's heart out when he had the chance. I suspect she either has no heart, or he knew the resulting scream would have killed him.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is easily the weakest entry in the series, and I didn't always feel that way. I watch it now and I feel like comic relief quotient was turned up. This movie was far more of a comedy than its two predecessor and I felt that it was very often a mood killer. Once again, Marion's absence was noticed. Ilsa was hardly a compelling character, but I wouldn't have tossed her out of the movie. She could still have played a similar part, as the Gestapo agent who screwed over Henry Jones Sr, and maybe as a rival to Marion as well.
Speaking of Henry Jones Sr, this is the part where I know I am going to lose people. But I thought he was mishandled. First of all, I think Sean Connery was really miscast in the role. I like Connery a lot, but I just cannot see him as Indiana Jones' father. Personally, I think the role of Indiana Jones' father would have been far better suited to Charlton Heston. He just carries that air about him, just imagine it for a moment. The second complaint was how Henry was written, I feel that he was reduced to comic relief. I'm not saying he couldn't have had any comic relief moments, we all know Indy does, but it just didn't feel right.
Not that I don't like "Last Crusade," because I do. But I just think it could have been better. Easily. But there are many moments where it feels more like a parody of an Indiana Jones movie rather than felt like an Indiana Jones movie. Too many characters who served no purpose other than comic relief, cutesy moments, and "witty" one-liners. This is constructive criticism, not bashing. Again, I like the movie.
And finally, there never was a fourth Indiana Jones movie, so please don't ask me my thoughts on a hypothetical fourth movie.
Good series, and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is the perfect adventure movie.