Teh Infamous Rolling Ball
Indy, Marion, and the Snakes
He Brought a Sword to a Gun Fight
Opening the Arc
Paramount Pictures Theatrical release June 12, 1981 115 minutes
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Paul Freeman as Belloq, Ron Lacey as Toht, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Denholm Elliott as Brody, Alfred Molina as Satipo, and Wolf Kahler as Dietrich.
Indiana Jones enters a cave where the Golden Idol of Fertility sits on a pedestal, glowing in what should have been absolute darkness. The floor is booby trapped, as are the walls. When he reaches the idol, he replaces it with a bag of sand. Oops . . .
Running for his life, avoiding poison arrows and falling debris, in a now-classic scene, he looks up to see an enormous rock ball rolling toward him. After escaping the rock, the idol is stolen, and he must again run for his life.
In what will become typical of Indiana Jones movies. This is just the opening teaser. Now the story begins.
Back at the university, Indy is asked to help find the Ark of the Covenant, where Moses hid the tablets containing the original Ten Commandments.
Although the story of the Ark is somewhat consistent in religious writings., it is not well supported by archeological evidence. But it makes for a great movie.
Finding the location of the Ark is not straightforward. In fact, it is ridiculously convoluted. There is an underground room with a model of the city. If a medallion is placed on the top of a staff, and the staff is placed in one of the numerous indentations, when the sun shines through the jewel in the medallion, a shaft of light points to the location of the Ark.
Although it works fine in the movie, the concept is implausible. Even if the staff is the exact length, the medallion must be at precisely the correct angle, at exactly the right time of day and day of year, for the sun to shine through the roof at the correct angle. Why would anyone set this up?
Then there is the room full of snakes. As a wildlife biologist, I do know that some snakes share overwintering dens. But thousands of snakes of different species just hanging out together, crawling through holes in the wall, and so forth doesn't make much sense.
Apparently, the majority of those snakes were glass snakes, a kind of legless lizard.
Indy was pretty beat up when he swam to the sub. He spends an unknown number of days in the sun with nothing to eat or drink. After which, he is ready to fight and have another adventure. It makes him one tough guy.
Last, how did Indy know that closing his eyes would protect him from the destruction caused by opening the Ark? The special effects are great.
Even though many parts of this movie are unbelievable, it doesnÕt matter. The movie is fast-paced and exciting. Harrison Ford is the perfect Indiana Jones. And Karen Allen is excellent as Marion Ravenwood. Although she is the preverbal damsel in distress, having an adventure in a dress and heals, the character is strong and holds her own against the bad guys.
Reviewed by Romana Drew August 4, 2023.
The Temple of Kali
Indy in the Bridge
Short Round and Willie
The Evil Priest
Written by George Lucas, Willard Huyck, and Gloria Katz
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Theatrical release Paramount Pictures May 23, 1984, 118 minutes
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott, Ke Huy Quan as Short Round, Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal (as Rushan Seth), Philip Stone as Captain Blumburtt, Roy Chiao as Lao Che, David Yip as Wu Han, Ric Young as Kao Kan, and Chua Kah Joo as Chen,
In a crowded club named Obi Wan, Indy attempts to give the remains of Emperor Nurhachi to Lao Che in exchange for a large diamond.
First, he is introduced to Willie Scott, a singer, and then poisoned. Shootings and fights send everyone into a frenzy. Both the vial of antidote and the diamond are kicked around. While Indy goes after the antidote, Willie scrambles after the diamond.
After an exciting and somewhat fantastical exit, Willie and Indy, assisted by a kid named Short Round, hop on a plane to make their getaway. Except the plane is owned by Lao Che. Just before the plane crashes, they escape on a life raft.
Now, the story begins.
Indy, Willie, and Short Round land in a village in India where a sacred stone has been stolen along with all the children.
The Villagers lend them elephants and send them off in search of the sacred stone. They find a maze of underground caverns and human sacrifices to Kali.
This movie is famous for the ore car chase through somewhat endless and convoluted mine tunnels and the suspension bridge collapsing over a river full of hungry crocodiles.
While Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Arc, may have been captured and needed to be rescued, she was never a typical damsel in distress. Willie Scott is not as self-sufficient or independent. There was a real tension between Marion and Indy. That is missing between Willie and Indy. Although Willie is well-played and fits the movie perfectly, I prefer Marion's chutzpah.
In typical Indiana Jones fashion, the underground temple is somewhat ridiculous. There are two flat areas divided by a chasm where lava bubbles several stories below. In reality, that would make the chamber so hot and full of poisonous gasses that no one could survive. However, it looks great and adds tension to the movie.
The ore car chase is amazing. Back in 1984, it all seemed so real, but special effects have improved, and it is easy to spot the stop action. But it still works. The Temple of Doom is an action packed adventure film. Although in the light of day, the entire thing is ridiculous. But once the lights go down, disbelief goes away, and the film sweeps you into the exciting world of Indiana Jones.
Reviewed by Romana Drew August 10, 2023.
Indy as Teenager
Taking Dad For a Ride
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Boam
Story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes
US Released May 24, 1989
Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm 127 minutes
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones, Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody, Alison Doody as Elsa, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Julian Glover as Walter Donovan, River Phoenix as Young Indy, Michael Byrne as Vogel, Kevork Malikyan as Kazim, Robert Eddison as Grail Knight, Richard Young as Fedora, Alexei Sayle as Sultan, Alex Hyde-White as Young Henry, and Jerry Harte as Professor Stanton.
This movie starts with Indy as a teenage boy scout. He attempts to retrieve the Cross of Coronado from treasure hunters. There is a chase scene on a moving train, and, having finally gotten safely home, the cross is taken from him. His father is less than understanding.
This opening explains Indy's fear of snakes, his tendency to wear fedoras, and the scar on his chin. Which is actually the result of a car accident. Now for the story
Indy discovers his father went searching for the holy grail and is now missing.
Unlike the first two movies, The Last Crusade, a damsel in distress doesn't tag along with Indy. He pairs up with Elsa Schneider for a while. But she doesn't need Indy's help, and the relationship is less than mutually beneficial.
There are lots of Nazi bad guys also looking for the holy grail, the secret to everlasting life.
The signature chase scene in this movie features a caravan of tanks and trucks and a fight on top of a moving tank. All ridiculously impossible in the light of day but wonderfully believable during the film.
Although Nazis make wonderful bad guys, it is hard to believe they would expend so many resources on things like the holy grail and the Arc of the Covenant. In 1938 Hitler was busy annexing Austria and other parts of Europe, getting ready to fight the world. But it makes for a good story.
The Last Crusade has plenty of action and excitement. It also has more character development than the previous movies. And Henry Jones Sr. is wonderfully played by Sean Connery.
Reviewed by Romana Drew August 17, 2023.
Indiana and Helena
Indiana and Teddy
Directed by James Mangold
Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp, and James Mangold.
Based on characters by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
Original release June 14, 2023
Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Paramount Pictures, 154 minutes.
Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena, Antonio Banderas as Renaldo, Karen Allen as Marion, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Shaunette Renˇe Wilson as Mason, Thomas Kretschmann as Colonel Weber, Toby Jones as Basil Shaw, Boyd Holbrook as Klaber, Olivier Richters as Hauke, Ethann Isidore as Teddy, Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Voller, Martin McDougall as Durkin, Alaa Safi as Rahim, and Nasser Memarzia as Archimedes.
In 1944, Indiana and Oxford archaeologist Basil Shaw try to retrieve plundered treasure from the Nazis. They discover part of Archimedes' Dial of Destiny, a device that can point to fissures in time. Then they get captured.
After a long and exciting escape, the story returns to Indy's present, 1969. Helena, Basil Shaw's daughter, Indy's goddaughter, visits him. She thinks she knows how to find the other half of the Dial of Destiny. But as Indy learns, she isn't quite as honest as he would like.
She also has a teenage sidekick named Teddy.
Indy, Helena, and Teddy travel the world looking for clues to the whereabouts of the other half of the dial. Of course, each new location has a new chase scene or capture and escape involving trains, three-wheeled carts, planes, motorcycles, and horses, among other things.
As exciting and well-done as this movie is, it is a bit overly long. That was made worse because I had to sit through over thirty minutes of ads for services for products I would never buy and trailers for movies that convinced me I didn't want to watch them.
Indy's companions, Helena and Teddy, work pretty well. But they can't compete with Marion and Short Round from previous movies.
Helena's decision to sell the dial didn't quite ring true. With Indy and the ex-Nazi Vollar after her, she should have realized she would never get away with it.
Recent pictures of Harrison Ford show him looking very much like Indy in 1969. The makeup to make him look twenty-five years younger in 1944 was quite good.
It was nice to see John Rhys-Davies as Sallah again.
It was wonderful to see Karen Allen as Marion again. It was also nice that she hadn't been made up to look twenty-five. Hollywood so often expects women to always look young even though men are permitted to look their age.
The movie has a rather unexpected ending, both in where the dial takes them and what happens afterward.
This may not be the best Indiana Jones movie ever made, but it is well worth watching. Especially as it will probably be the last, given Harrison Ford's age.
Reviewed by Romana Drew August 5, 2023.