Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Indiana Jones

Something struck me about the three theatrical adventures of Indiana Jones: the films never take themselves very seriously. As a twelve year old kid, I really thought Raiders of the Lost Ark was a serious film. But watching them over again yesterday, I noted a bit of whimsy, especially within the fight sequences. They are so overtly choreographed that they appear, well, overtly choreographed.

The Market Place fight from the first movie is the perfect example.

The German intelligence operative stands in an alleyway flanked by his Arab henchmen ready to attack our heroes. Indy and Marion continue to talk about their past, when she drops an article to the ground. Stooping to retrieve it, she inadvertently causes the first attacker to jump over her only to meet Indy's fist. Later, Indy dodges a sword thrust which impales an attacker behind him. A beat later, we see a reverse angle of the impaled victim which reveals the tip of the sword has fruit from the nearby stand on its end. Marion uses a frying pan to bean an assailant on the head when he follows her into a darkened doorway. And of course, the famous Sword Man who flourishes his weapon with great aplomb, only to be shot by Indy.

How do you take that seriously?

In Temple of Doom, the opening sequence is so un-Indiana, that you wonder if you put the right disc into the player. Even when the dancers do a split, and then the editors run the film backwards so that it appears the dancers are magically "un-splitting." Last Crusade has its jousting motorcycles and a close encounter with Adolf Hitler.

In a weird way it works by evoking the movie serials that are a bygone product of our parent's youth. And, I think that is what Lucas and Spielberg were going for. The question is, will Kingdom of the Crystal Skull continue to honor the movie serial? Perhaps this is what Lucas has been alluding to when he fears that fans might be disappointed with the film (he certainly took a bashing from the new Star Wars films). Maybe he fears that after a nineteen year hiatus, the twelve year old kids who saw Raiders in 1981 will have grown up too much and be too sophisticated for the cheesy traditions of the movie serials and the elements that made the first three movies so much fun to watch.


Steve said...

I don't know, I thought "Raiders" had a little more serious undertone. The other two were a bit more over-the-top. I find myself hoping this iteration returns a bit more to the roots of the original, much like the latest "Batman Begins" movie. We'll see...

Chuck said...

Steve - that was always my thoughts as well. It is the reason that I disliked Last Crusade so much. But, re-watching Raiders again, I think it is much more tongue in cheek than I originally remembered

George said...

Is it scarier that the original 3 films? I want to take Grant, age 10, but I'm not sure about the PG-13 rating. He was cool with Prince Caspian. Can you draw a comparison?

Chuck said...

Let's see, Raiders had face melts. Temple had hearts ripped out. Last Crusade had death by rapid extreme aging.

KOCS has ants. I thought they were pretty scary.

Caspian had fights, but I think that it was aimed towards families with kids.

But, overall, I thought KOCS was milder than the other three. Both Katie (10) and Megan (8) saw it and agreed that the original three were much scarier.

I do not recall any, as Steve would delicately put it, any Bom-Chika-Bom-Bawhm ala the first ten minutes into Iron Man. Indy is not sticking his hands down a women's dress to recover any anti-dote and no Austrian Women are nibbling on his ears.

My suggestion is, when in doubt, check it out. I seriously think that this is a movie you could watch twice.

However, because it is PG-13, you never know what the "Pre-Show" videos will contain or the trailers. We lucked out on both cases, but, this might be another reason to go and see it.

Come to think of it, I am not sure why this got a PG-13.

Chuck said...

** UPDATE **

I just interviewed my kids for the scary parts. I am actually surprised at how much I forgot.

The Ants.
The Grave yard scene: Indy is looking for the burial remains of several of the Spanish Conquistadors. There is a warning against Grave Robbers. Indy and Mutt are attacked by a very fast moving person wearing a mask and shooting darts. The kids did not like this guy. Also, the Spanish Conquistadors that Indy is looking for are perfectly preserved in their wrappings, but age when they come in contact with air. Not like Last Crusade. Finally, at the culmination of the movie, Cate Blanchet’s character’s eyes catch on fire when she gets her “just reward.”

Katie did confirm that it was not that scary.