All movie series’ have their strong episodes and their weak ones. Many times the first one is much better than the sequels (The Matrix, Back to the Future, Pirates of the Carribbean, Men In Black, Jurassic Park) but not always. Star Wars was great, but The Empire Strikes Back was better, and I thought Return of the King was the best of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Star Trek movies have the “every other one is great” reputation, and it’s been surprisingly accurate so far (though I wasn’t a huge fan of IV – The Voyage Home). I thought all of the Harry Potter movies were really good, but some are still better than others.
There are lots of series where there is a huge gap between the quality of the good ones and the bad ones (i.e. make a very good movie and then make “whatever 2″ which sucks – Highlander comes to mind), but normally when there has been enough interest to make three or more movies, even the bad movies in the series aren’t terrible. The odd-numbered Star Trek movies weren’t as good as the even numbered ones, but they were still watchable. The Matrix, Pirates, and Men in Black sequels weren’t as good as the first, but still not bad. But the Indiana Jones series is unique among movie series because it has more than one movie that’s really good (Raiders, Last Crusade) and yet still has the huge gap in quality between the good ones and the bad ones (Temple of Doom, Crystal Skull). The good ones are really really good, while the bad ones are terrible.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
- OK, the ancient Aztecs build a crazy cave with huge stone doors and stuff to protect this gold idol thing. Not totally out of the realm of possibility. But how did they build a mechanical light sensor? And what happens when it’s cloudy?
- Anyone who can have that many tarantulas on his back and casually brush them off is, well, not me.
- Indy jumps in his getaway plane and they fly off. Then he notices Reggie, the pilot’s pet snake. Obviously Indy knew nothing about Reggie, so he didn’t fly down to Peru in that plane. How did Indy get there and how did Reggie and the plane get there? Did Indy really hire an American to fly down to Peru separately to wait for him?
- When we first see Marion, she’s in a drinking competition with someone in her bar. (To this day, I honestly don’t know if her competitor is a man or a woman.) She takes a shot and almost passes out, but then recovers and finishes the shot. When her competitor passes out, Marion starts cleaning up and is completely sober.
- The DVD box set we have (of the first three movies) call this “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
Great Line: “It’s not the years sweetheart, it’s the mileage.” Sums up Indiana Jones perfectly.
Creepy Scene: I first saw this movie when I was 12, and there are three scenes that I remember creeping me out: the famous face-melting scene at the end (which did more than just creep me out – it scared the crap out of me), the guy getting chopped up by the propeller, and the one shot of a big snake coming out of a skull’s mouth.
Overall: 5/5. Simply one of the best action-adventure movies ever.
Temple of Doom
- For years, I’ve thought that the only reason Kate Capshaw was in this film was because she was married to Steven Spielberg. But I was wrong – they met on this movie and didn’t get married until later. This is actually worse than I thought, because it means that the casting people put her in the movie on purpose. They actually cast her based on her acting talent and not on nepotism, which calls into question their ability to judge talent. I didn’t think she was great acting-wise, and I hated the character. She just screamed and whined far too much.
- Short Round was irritating and not funny in the slightest – the Jar Jar Binks of this series. There were parts where I wanted Indy to shoot him and Willie and let the bad guys live.
- There was one scene where an elephant keeps putting his trunk on Willie’s shoulder and she keeps pushing it off. Then a huge snake slithers onto her shoulder and she grabs it and throws it away, the joke being that she thought it was the elephant again and didn’t know it was a snake. But this makes no sense – if she thought it was the elephant’s trunk, why would she grab it and throw it forward? Was she expecting to throw the entire elephant, or rip its trunk off?
- Willie doesn’t want the live snakes for dinner, so she asks for “something simple, like soup?” Who asks for soup? Nobody, it’s a contrived plot device so they can give her eyeball soup.
- They lower a metal cage with a person in it into molten lava and the person is burned away entirely, but the cage is neither damaged nor even hot when they pull it back up. What the heck is the cage made of?
- Even in this terrible movie, Harrison Ford is really good. The bit in the room with the spiky ceiling where he mashes his face into the little window and enunciates “WE ARE GOING TO DIE” was very funny.
Great Line: When about to escape the clutches of the bad guy in a plane at the beginning, Indy says “Nice try, Lao Che!” right before closing the plane door. We then see that the door says “Lao Che Airways” on it.
Creepy Scene: Willie sticks her hand in a hole filled with every kind of bug imaginable. Bad dude sticks his hand inside the guy’s chest and pulls his heart out. Also, “Ah, dessert. Chilled monkey brains.”
Overall: 2/5. The story was lame, and all the characters except Indy were weak.
- As my wife and I say every time we see the beginning of this movie: River Phoenix. (Sigh) Such a waste.
- Sean Connery was perfectly cast and he and Harrison Ford pulled off some great lines together. “I didn’t know you could fly a plane!” “Fly, yes. Land, no.” The bit where Indy asks him how he knew Elsa was a Nazi and he says “She talks in her sleep” and they look back and forth at each other is brilliant.
- So the third brother has been living in this cave in Egypt for hundreds of years, drinking from the Holy Grail to keep himself alive that long. But by this time, he’s very frail. Has he stopped drinking from the Grail? Or do you still age and decline in health but never die? What kind of shape would he have been in if nobody had found the cave for another five hundred years? And never being able to leave the cave at all? Who would want to be immortal with those conditions?
- I always thought that the actor that played Donovan was just not very good; some of his lines sounded really fake. While researching this article, I found out that he is an English actor doing an American accent. And not very well. He should talk to the House guy, or Apollo from Battlestar Galactica.
- Speaking of fake accents, Indy’s fake Scottish accent at the castle in Germany is terrible. He sounds as Scottish as Dick Van Dyck does English. This may have been intentional.
- Every time Sallah sees Indy, he tips his hat. Even when riding on a horse next to the tank trying to save his life.
Great Line: “He chose… poorly.”
Creepy Scene: Donovan’s death was a bit creepy, but not as bad as the other movies.
Overall: 4.5/5. Donovan should have been re-cast, but the rest of the film was great. I was glad that John Rhys-Davies returned as Sallah – he’s a great character.
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Aliens? Really?
- When they are in the storage warehouse looking for the ultra-magnetic thing, Indy drops little metal balls on the ground and they roll toward the magnetic thing. Later on, you notice the lights above all shifting towards it. Why haven’t the lights been shifting towards this thing for however long it’s been there? If they have, then every hanging light in the place should point directly at it so there’s no need for the metal balls at all. And if it’s that powerful, the bullets that he pulled the metal balls from should just roll towards it – no need to break them open. Plus once they recover the skull and carry it all over South America, it doesn’t seem to be magnetic anymore.
- Indiana Jones says “nuclear” as “nucular”.
- The whole “surviving a nuclear blast in a fridge” scene is silly and unnecessary.
- The Australian dude that was Indy’s friend, then was working with the Russians, then said he was a double-agent, then was a bad guy again didn’t seem to be necessary either.
- What mother would sit back and watch her teenage son swordfight with a Russian spy while standing on a moving jeep?
- A Peruvian native is about to shoot a blow dart at Mutt when Indy jumps in front of him and blows in the pipe the other way. Wouldn’t the guy get hit in the throat with the back of the dart and thus not be poisoned? It would still hurt, and might still kill him, but he wouldn’t just immediately die.
Great Line: No great line for this one – I haven’t seen the movie often enough to remember any.
Creepy Scene: Ants.
Overall: 3/5. Better than Temple of Doom, but not by much. All of the Indy stories strain credulity and there’s a fair bit of suspension of disbelief, and I’m OK with that. This one, however, went way overboard – to the extent that “nuking the fridge” is a thing now, similar to “jumping the shark”. I like Shia Labeouf, but I didn’t think Cate Blanchett or Karen Allen were all that great.
And now they’ve announced Indiana Jones 5. I’m not sure whether I’m looking forward to it or not; seems like it will either be fantastic or terrible. Hopefully it follows the “odd-numbered Indy movies are great” rule.