Thoughts On The (Original) Indiana Jones Trilogy.

As the new movie is coming out soon, Indiana Jones is all over the place. As I don’t own the movies on DVD or the like (as of now), I was fortunate enough to DVR the entire thing from USA Network during their marathon over this past weekend. Well, I just finished watching them for the first time since I was really little, and I believe my opinion is… not warranted… but I’m going to give it anyway. And I’m probably going to get steamrolled for it.

Now, I both can and cannot see why Mr. Jones was and/or is such a big deal. I can see how he might have a cult following, but not a super-huge blockbuster following. Because, honestly, the movies (specifically the first two) were badly made (except for the nifty shadow shots in all three). But before you get on me, please let me clarify.

Starting with Raiders of the Lost Ark, I must say that, at least by today’s standards, the acting is bad, the fights scenes can be good or bad, and the continuity is plain awful. To further explain the latter two bits, there was one scene in particular where Harrison Ford punches at a guy, CLEARLY misses, the guy reacts a bit late, and there’s an over-the-top punching noise. As for the continuity, there’s just too many to pinpoint. However, these things said, I had no problem suspending disbelief, and I thought the movie was really fun. I can totally see what made him an iconic figure, and why people loved the movie. It’s escapist fun.

The second movie, however, is a whole other story. It has similar issues with acting and continuity, but the biggest issues with Temple of Doom are Willie (the main female), the very over-the-top slapstick/physical humor, and the overall difficulty in suspension of disbelief. Willie was pretty annoying, basically screaming or complaining the whole time. And it doesn’t help that, randomly, about halfway in, Indy and Willie suddenly fall in love with each other, even though he couldn’t stand her minutes before. As for the slapstick, it is in the other movies, but I feel it just really didn’t work for this one. And I don’t know much about Indian culture, but while I was watching that dinner scene with the snakes and the monkey brains, etc., even I was like “This is absurd.” And then there were just some things that happen in this movie that I just couldn’t believe, even if it’s meant to be fantasy-like. The coolest thing about the second movie, though? Short Round. That kid was awesome.

So now we’re left with The Last Crusade. Well, really, this one is the best in the series (so far). The only things it had wrong with it were a few continuity errors, but nothing major. There’s slapstick/physical humor in this one, but it works. I think because Sean Connery is usually involved, and that man can pull off anything (“You’re the man now, dawg!”). The stuff at the end with going after the Grail and the three trials is great, and the dude aging super-fast is still creepy, even with the cheesy effects. Not to mention the action was really stepped up in this one. And it starts off with young Indy (R.I.P. River Phoenix) and shows how he came to get his iconic look.

So really, Indiana Jones is cool. He’s human, he has faults, but he’s also a funny badass with a whip. Though, in those respects, he’s also kind of a loser if you really pay attention. He’s only ever been able to keep one item that he’s ever gone after (the golden cross at the beginning of Crusade). The golden skull thing at the beginning of Raiders is stolen. The Ark is taken by the government. The diamond at the beginning of Temple is lost. He drops two of the three stones, and has to give the other one back to the tribe. And then he can’t take the Holy Grail with him at the end of Crusade. Not to mention he can’t seem to keep a woman (one dies, and two are never heard from again, at least until this next one where Karen Allen returns as Marion). But in all seriousness, the Indiana Jones movies (as of right now) are just meant to be escapist fun, and Indy is a great, iconic character played marvelously by Harrison Ford. I just think it’s interesting as to how he grew to the level of popularity that he did. And I’m still stoked for the next one.


  1. I attribute all problems you had to watching this on the USA network. Get thee a DVD of Raiders, at the very least.

    As I told Joseph at Cinema Fist recently (who prefers the second over all others), it's blasphemy to not recognize the first as the best. It's far and away the best film (I say this probably because it is the least hokey and jokey, though I understand how the third could be seen as the most fun).

    The first was nominated for Best Picture, and damned if it didn't deserve it. For "just an action adventure," it deals with some pretty big themes, and deals with them properly. I can't specificly recall the punching/sound issue you mention, but I also can't recall any significant continuity errors (are you sure you're using the right term?). The first is excellent from start to finish in my book, a movie that went a lot higher than its creators envisioned, I'd imagine.

    The third is indeed a fun ride, and I like it a lot. It has a good story and was executed terrifically. It's also the funniest (and naturally), whereas Temple tries too hard for its leaughs and attempts to appeal to both kids and adults, whereas Raiders wasn't aimed at 10 year olds. Still, fwiw, I like it - it just pales in comparison to the first and third.

  2. The first is really good, I admit. I just still like the third the best. The second is the weakest, by far.

    As for continuity, yeah, I'm pretty sure I'm using the term right. I noticed continuity errors at least every 10 minutes (nothing super-major, just nit-picky annoying. There's a super-long list of errors on IMDB, too, but none of them rang a bell with me... meaning the ones I noticed were even more to add to that list). For instance, in Crusade, one that I noticed was at the end when Indy pours all of the water from the Grail onto his dad's stomach. He completely empties the Grail. Then, immediately after, the camera shows the Grail to be at least half full from then on.

    If I were to rate them all out of 5, I'd do so in the following manner:

    Raiders: 3.8 (McLovin, but close to 'Whoa')
    Doom: 2.5 (Feed Me, Seymour)
    Crusade: 4 ('Whoa')

    However, I do agree that the fault could be placed on USA, though I don't think anything was cut from the movies. However, the collector in me would buy all three. But the movie-watcher in me would just by Crusade. Fortunately, the movie-collector in me typically wins.

  3. Now I'm starting to understand why the reports are saying Indy 4 is only testing well with "old people." You crazy kids with your fancy CGI, it's spoiled you rotten! And get off my lawn!

    Seriously though, there's plenty to nitpick in any movie (some punches didn't connect in THE GODFATHER either) but that's hardly anything to count against it.

    Reading the comments here, I have to agree with Fletch: get the DVDs. You can't just watch them on USA. It's like eating a picture of a steak and wondering why it doesn't taste good.

  4. lol... that analogy would have worked nicely... but I'm not a fan of steak, either.

    And I'm totally not a CGI-hound. Actually, I prefer it when movies can do stuff without CGI and it still be incredibly effective. CGI usually looks really fake to me, the only exceptions being movies like Transformers.

    And this article might have been negative, but I guess I didn't get across that I really did enjoy the movies quite a bit (except Temple of Doom). I was just focused on the negative, because it's a different perspective that most people don't usually focus on in classic movies. And if I were to talk about Indy... just focusing on the awesome positives isn't very interesting in this day and age... because it's already been done a million and one times.


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