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Keeping Up With the (Indiana) Jones (movies)

5/24/08

Friday was more or less my ideal summer vacation day (until I start work).

Between 12 and 6:30 in the afternoon, I watched the first three Indiana Jones movies on DVD.

I had seen parts of all three, but none in their entirety.

I then capped off the day by going out and seeing the latest installment of the series, meaning that I did indeed spend over 8 hours of my day watching Harrison Ford.

Before I review the newest film, I’ll throw out some of my feelings about the original three.

He might not have an Oscar on his mantle, but Ford can act.

He’s very entertaining in almost every role he plays, and combines a strong screen presence and sense of humor to take the movies he’s in and usually make them worthy of the price of admission.

The Indiana Jones franchise is no exception, as Ford is simply terrific playing the professor/archaeologist/adventurer who always seems to have a nact for getting himself into and out of trouble with his enemies.

Of the original trilogy, I’d have to rank them as followed:

(1) Raiders of the Lost Ark (first film)

(2) The Last Crusade (third film)

(2) Temple of Doom (second film)

The movies are all filled with lots of excitement, highlighted but the variety of booby traps Indy always manages to navigate his way out of, along with classic one-liners that only Harrison Ford is able to deliver (“…I’m making this up as I go along”).

The first film introduces us to the formula that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg successful present throughout the series, which essentially deals with Indiana being asked to go on some treasure hunt for some ancient artifact (Lost Ark, Holy Grail, etc), runs into trouble on his way to finding it, escapes traps and bullets while landing the girl and eventually surviving it all and getting this job done.

The first and third films incorporate the Nazi’s as enemies (the films take place during the mid to late 1930’s) and some of the historical references are pure genius, such as Indy running into Adolph Hitler during the third film and having him sign his father’s Holy Grail diary.

But now we fast forward 20 years (the first three came out in 1981, ’84 and ’89 respectively) and an older Indiana Jones is once again faced with the task of tracking down an artifact with mystical powers (The Crystal Skull), yet he’s thrown a curveball when he is approached by the young and rebellious Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouff) to find a former collegue of Indy’s who has some vital information in finding the skull.

Their quest brings them to South America and the Amazon, and also reunited Indy with Marion, his love interest from the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Taking place during the late 50’s, the backdrop is the Cold War, and the Russian KGB is in search of the Skull in an effort to develop a mind-reading weapon.

Among the more humorous historical references are a scene in which a nuclear bomb is test-detonated with Indy narrowly escaping the devastation it causes (sorry if you consider that a spoiler, but if you haven’t caught on, he usually makes it from beginning to end of every film).

There are plenty of references to the past films, which include filling us in on the fates of his father (played by Sean Connery in the Last Crusade) and Dr. Marcus Brody, a fellow professor and close friend of Indy.

For a 60 something year old, you gotta give it to Harrison Ford who has maintained his youthful exuberance in this role, running, jumping and cracking his whip without having missed a beat.

If you’re a fan of the first three films, you’ll enjoy this one and smile at the nostalgic feeling you get watching Ford doing what he does best, even 20 years later.

The plot is far-fetched, maybe a little too much so for one of these films, but it never takes away from the thrill of the ride, which is good as ever.

A very admirable B+ from me, and hats off (get it?) to Ford for once again delivering a vintage performance, and turning the clock back and giving us an all around fun time.

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May 24, 2008 - Posted by | Movies | ,

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