Raiders of the Lost Ark has badass Indy and evil Nazis racing each other in their common quest to find the sacred Ark of the Covenant.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has our gruff hero pitted against a deadly Thuggee “Kali Ma” cult in India with the survival of a small village at stake.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has Indy back in the saddle to save his oddball father (Sean Connery) from the grasp of the Nazis. The Jones’ then team up in a wild search for the Holy Grail.
In their aim to recreate the feel of old Saturday matinee serials but on a larger scale, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg gave birth to the ultimate action movie: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This flawless jewel had all of its edges sharpened and then some. It moved at brisk pace with a loveable hero in the guise of Harrison Ford at his smug best leading us through this rollercoaster of excitement. We’re also treated to likeable side characters (Sallah and Marcus rock!), love to hate Nazi villains and a surprisingly strong female lead (Marion played by Karen Allen) that brought a smile-inducing, low-key “love story” to the table. To top that off, all of those goodies were wrapped in a charming sense of humor, an engaging plot line, clever dialogue, a tantalizing supernatural aura, striking locations and pleasurable extreme situations.
And that’s not all, fellow archeologists! Did I mention the beyond enthralling action set pieces? No? Well, it can’t get better than this, with inventive and daring physical scenarios assaulting us from all sides and bringing us back to the awe and wonder that going to the movies is all about. Backed by an incredibly catchy score by John Williams, novel visual effects, energetic direction and a finale that never failed to evoke morbid fascination, RAIDERS is the real deal. My dad made me watch this gem when I was a wee lad and it marked me to this day. In the future, I know I’ll also share the joy that is this picture with my own children. Now that’s a movie…scratch that….that’s a CLASSIC!
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (* * * * *) “Mola Ram! Prepare to meet Kali... in Hell!”- Indiana Jones
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is perceived by many as the black sheep of the franchise. Playing as a prequel to “Raiders”, this second foray into Indy Land was much darker than its predecessor with voodoo, child slavery, a heart ripped out of one’s chests and an evil death worshipping cult abound. The PG-13 rating was actually invented due to this film. Let's all thank Spielberg for that one! Now although the series’ token sense of humor was still present through a cute Asian kid sidekick (that’s Short Round to you, bub) and semi-slapstick sight gags, TEMPLE mostly traded off the cheeky feel of Raiders for a bleak and horror-inclined tone. And that’s why I love it so damn much!
Rare is it that we get to see sequels that are brave enough to spice things up in a different way than the original and I welcomed TEMPLE's gloomy feel with open arms. My only real peeve with the film was the inclusion of blonde yelper Willie (played by Kate Capshaw) whose constant screaming and whining got to me. Every time she opened her trap, I missed Marion from RAIDERS…a lot! But in true Indy fashion, TEMPLE went on to make up for her grating presence by serving up death-defying action set pieces (the mine cart ride and the bridge scene were two for the books), fist fights galore, able directing, John Williams’ engaging score and loads of thrills. Yes, this follow up was dipped in a different type of sauce then RAIDERS, but it was able to stand on its two feet as a solid action/adventure film on its own right.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (* * * * 1/2) “Nazis. I hate these guys.” – Indiana Jones
INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE played it safe and returned the franchise to its RAIDERS roots with the darkness of TEMPLE OF DOOM completely absent. The light tone returned and the humor was amplified by the inclusion of Indiana Jones’ father tackled by an excellent Sean Connery. Both Ford and Connery acted off each other like Ping Pong players through hilarious exchanges and an abundance of wacky scenarios. More RAIDERS elements were brought back for this second go-around with the return of those pesky Nazis, as well as Sallah and Marcus, and the Holy Grail quest echoing the Ark of the Covenant pursuit to a T.
One aspect that separated this flick from the two previous entries was that we got to know a lot more about the man behind the whip. We get insight into Indy’s childhood (with River Phoenix playing a young Indy), the origins of his name, where his fear of snakes began and much more! Discovering so much about the tough guy behind the fedora was much appreciated by this Indy nut! Tag to all that bang-on casting, a swift pace, exotic locales, a tight script, a “different” type of love interest (Alison Doody as Dr. Schneider), Harrison Ford at his dead-pan best and flabbergasting action sequences that were jacked up to new heights in terms of both scope and ambition, and you get an installment that delivered in high doses what we crave and expect from an Indy film. Sure, this was basically a bloated version of RADIERS and was maybe a tad to light, but it still worked like a bullet versus a swordsman and gave me two hours of top-notch entertainment.
Indiana Jones: Making the Trilogy: Raiders of the Lost Arc (50 minutes), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (40 minutes) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (35 minutes) were all extensively dissected here via interviews with practically everybody that ever worked on the Indy films in front and behind the camera. The MAKING OF’s were filled with on-set footage, audition tapes (loved the Tom Selleck and Sean Young screen test) and trivia. Did you know that George Lucas came up with the INDIANA JONES idea at the same time as STAR WARS? Did you know that many of the stunt scenes in TEMPLE OF DOOM (like the mine wagon scene) were initially for RAIDERS? Did you know that THE LAST CRUSADE was initially supposed to be about a Haunted Castle? No? Yes? Maybe? Well, watch this feature and discover EVERYTHING in what is the more fulfilling extra on this disc.
The Stunts of Indiana Jones (11 Minutes): George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, stunt coordinators and stuntmen who worked on all three films are interviewed here about the many dangerous stunts found in the Indy films. The various stunt pieces are further explored through clips from the films and stock footage of stunts being performed on location. This was a very slick feature that gave me a good idea about how much work went into the Indy action sequences.
The Sound of Indiana Jones (13 Minutes): This feature explored the many sounds found in all three films. We get the sound guy coming in and explaining how they accomplished the many noises required for the films (the boulder, the mine cart sequence, the gun shots, the punches…). We also get some groovy stock footage of Harrison Ford cracking that whip like a madman on set. This segment was very insightful from a technical standpoint.
The Music of Indiana Jones (12 Minutes): George Lucas introduces John Williams who discusses the nature of his collaboration with Spielberg and Lucas and the work that he's done for them. Spielberg also comes in to blab about the two RAIDERS scores that were written by Williams and how they went about deciding which one to use. We also get some stock footage of Spielberg, Lucas and Williams at work. A gnarly feature that provided me with great trivia when it came to the astounding theme that is the now timeless Indy ditty.
The Light & Magic of Indiana Jones (12 Minutes): This feature explored the various visual effects found in all three films. We get some stock footage of Spielberg and Lucas talking effects on set, designers (Industrial Light & Magic) stepping up to reveal some info behind the effects and how they were realized. We also get to witness some of the special effects being created, staged and directed by Spielberg before our eyes via on-set stock footage (the end of RAIDERS, for example) An informative feature that educated me in the art of special effects.
We also get Theatrical Trailers for all three films, a trailer for the Video Game (The Emperor’s Tomb) and an IndianaJones.com feature where we’re instructed on how to get exclusive stuff off the website by using the EXTRAS disc in our CPU.