THE PLOT THUS FAR
A trouble Ivy League professor tries to make the tenure track while saving the world’s antiquities. Just don’t mind him kidnapping an Asian orphan and the weird sexual age math required to make the Marion Ravenwood relationship make sense.
The Diaries of Indiana Jones
WHAT WE THOUGHT
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” opens up in a South American jungle, as Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) leads an expedition to a lost temple. Despite his deceitful help, Indiana Jones manages to make it to the Golden Idol that he’s trying to recover. After triggering a booby trap, we get to watch as Indiana Jones and his guide Satipo (Alfred Molina) have to escape the temple’s triggered traps. Indiana manages to escape, while he leaves Satipo’s corpse behind. After a brief encounter with his rival Belloq (Paul Freeman) and a group of local Indians, Indiana escapes to his nearby charter plane to live another day. Back on his home turf, Dr. Jones teaches archaeology to the horniest college coeds 1936 had to offer. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) intrudes upon Dr. Jones to let him know that the FBI wants to talk to him in the school’s auditorium.
The FBI lets Dr. Jones know that the Nazis are feverishly scouring the globe for supernatural artifacts to bring back to Hitler. Specifically, the Nazis want to use the Ark of the Covenant. According to Judeo-Christian myth, whoever possesses the Ark of the Covenant can use their God’s might to crush opposing armies. The FBI worried that some sort of mythic superweapon could tip the scales for the Nazi party, enlists Indiana Jones to help his country out. Indiana knows that he has to make one stop before he heads to the Middle East to find the Ark of Covenant. Indiana has to go to a bar in Nepal. Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is one of the many notches on Indiana Jones’s bullwhip. This man has been chasing tail everywhere that his magical “red map line” takes him. After a brief scene of Marion Ravenwood’s severe alcoholism we’re treated to a reunion of Marion and Jones. After the duo fight for a bit, Indiana asks for a medallion that belonged to his mentor. Since Indy’s mentor was Marion’s father, she’s a little reluctant to give it up. Disappointed, Indiana leaves. But, that’s when my favorite Nazi arrives.
Toht (Ronald Lacey) is one of the cinema’s greatest creepy weirdos. He’s Peter Lorre by way of Mengele. Toht attempts to take the medallion away from Marion, but Marion isn’t going to give up so easily. But, that’s when the giant Sherpas show up. Lucky for Marion, she’s got Indiana Jones in her corner. What follows is one of the greatest barfights in cinematic history. All of that happens in the first half hour. This flick is packed. Spielberg has said in later interviews that he intended for the film to play as six serial episodes packed into one giant Republic Pictures serial epic. While I feel that the pacing might’ve been off a degree to achieve that, Spielberg and company have made something for the ages. Raiders of the Lost Ark is another one of the essentials…so, you all know what this is getting.
Monkey brains, chest ripping and a room full of bugs are some of the memories that stick with me. “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” was one of those flicks that I always kept on heavy rotation at the compound. As a tyke, it was the only Indiana Jones flick that I could make it through. As I grew older, I came to realize that it was the movie that stayed closer to the original plan of making a trilogy of film serials. That and the Thugee Cult always makes for cool villain fodder. The flick starts off with a Cole Porter tune sang in Cantonese by American showgirl Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). A few tables over in the Club Obi-Wan, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is working on a trade off with the gangster Lao Che (Roy Chiao). The deal goes sour, as Indy’s inside man gets capped by evil skinny Asian thug. Indiana Jones tries to fight back, but he realizes that he needs the antidote…for the poison that he just drank. Mwaahahaha!
Cut to a thunderous escape from the Club and a quick jump into Short Round’s (Jonathan Ke Quan) cab. The trio makes their way to the local airport quickly, because there wasn’t any time for love for Dr. Jones. Dan Aykroyd greets the trio and after a quick cameo, sends them off to India. After a bumpy landing and quick rafting trip through the Third World, the main thrust of the movie is underway. The dangerous Thugee Cult and its leader Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) have stolen the Sankra Stones from a local Indian tribe. So, Indiana Jones promises to help the Indians by going to a nearby palace and stealing them back. The problem is that Mola Ram and his Thugee Cult have taken over the mind of the local prince. Thus, Indiana Jones has to fight off the Thugees and win back the mind of the Prince. Also, there’s a mine full of minor miners who’re being beaten by large nameless guards. What’s an archaeologist going to do?
Well, I’ll stop here. I could go on forever and ever and ever, or I could just come back in twenty years and replace every vowel with a walkie-talkie. Walkie-talkies aside, I came to talk about fat men eating bugs. Some people have accused Spielberg and Lucas of catering to kids in some of their work, but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because, the kids that laugh at the bug eating and fart jokes today are the future supervillains of tomorrow. Did I say supervillains? I meant…film critics. Yes, the children become film critics. Not supervillains with a microwave gun pointing at the South Pole. Everything is ok, kids. Go back to sleep, America. Go back to sleep…
The third film in a trilogy has always been proclaimed as the hardest one to create. But, I don’t believe it. Sure, I’m not necessarily crazy over “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, but I don’t think that it was unreasonable for Lucas and Spielberg to create a thrilling conclusion. The inclusion of Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones was a nice touch, but a forced Spielberg emotional subplot only created force humor and didn’t help to sustain the film’s intended purpose. In other words, I don’t want to see Indiana reunited with his estranged father, when he’s supposed to be smacking Nazis around and drinking from the right grail.
The film begins as all Indiana Jones flicks do with a transition between the Paramount logo and some rock formation. After the obligatory opening, we’re introduced to the young Henry Jones, Jr. (River Phoenix) as he sneaks away from his Boy Scout troop in order to stop some graverobbers. A prolonged fight ensues as Henry steals the Cross of Coronado and tries to escape the thugs. Throughout this fight, we get a look at where Indiana’s fear of snakes started, where he learned to use the bullwhip and how he received the classic fedora. After a slight reveal of the trouble between Indiana and his father, we return to the present.
That is 1938, where college professors fight crime and save priceless artifacts. Well, the film kicks into high gear when Indiana Jones is propositioned by wealthy man Walter Donovan (Julian Glover). Donovan wants Indiana to recover the Holy Grail before the Nazis find it. And, to get Indiana’s tail into gear…he drops another bombshell. Indiana’s father has gone missing on a previous search to find it. And, the older Dr. Jones might’ve been kidnapped by the Nazis.
So, Indiana takes a ride on the magical flying red map line of transportation and heads to Italy. Once in Italy, Indiana meets up with his father’s former assistant/piece of ass Elsa (Allison Doody). The cold and very German Elsa hits it off with Indiana, because a giant bullwhip and a fedora works like Spanish Fly. Well, the duo bullshits for a bit before it’s revealed that a special guard protecting the Holy Grail is following them. After a quick bit of playing “let’s fuck up the library”, the duo stumbles into a secret tomb with instructions on how to find the Holy Grail.
Well, that’s when the Grail Guard decides to play “Let’s torch the white folks and cover them with rats”. From personal experience, I can tell you that game sucks ass for us pale people. What follows is a series of dangerous encounters that leads to a bit of forced humor with Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery). It’s a little sad to watch the star of “Goldfinger”, “You Only Live Twice” and “Zardoz” resort to hamming it up. Connery is one of the original great genre actors and he’s not given that much to work with in this flick. But, he did get the best last line out of any Indiana Jones film.
Nearly 20 years later, “Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” happened. I could carry on about how so many CG monkeys, ants and super fridges damned the film to futility, but I’m tired. What can I say is that Paramount has replaced the audio track on this disc with a DTS-HD 5.1 master audio track. However, they’ve omitted a lot of the special features that came on the standalone disc. Therefore, you might just want to hang onto it for completion’s sake.
The Blu-Ray comes with hours of special features which you’ve might have seen before. It’s featurettes, EPK material and interviews. However, I wanted to see more delving into the scripts and deleted scenes. The 1080p transfers are flawless, even though it makes the Temple of Doom effects stand out a little more. The DTS-HD 5.1 master audio tracks are all reference quality, as they gave the theater quite a workout. Nothing’s funnier than watching a whippet/collie mix run around the house trying to find a Hitler saluting monkey. The recent featurettes have been upgraded to HD, while the archival stuff remains in Standard Definition. In the end, this is a recommended purchase.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!