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Tag Archives: indiana jones
Spotted over at MaryAnn Johanson’s site, and too clever not to share – Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1950s style. It’s not quite as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark as made by a bunch of kids, but it’s still pretty cool. And certainly better than Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, 2008)
Man, this is some bad movie.
And keep in mind; this is from someone who managed to enjoy some of the Star Wars prequels.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Steven Spielberg, 1984)
In the lead-up to the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a longstanding argument was revived. Which is the second best Indiana Jones film: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The two films split fans of the series down the middle; they are so different, and the qualities people value in each are so different, that there is no room for agreement. (It’s one of those arguments where both sides are surprised that the other could even pose such a question.) About the only thing that unites everyone is the unstated assumption that, of course, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the untouchable, streets-ahead best of the series. I, too, love that film: I can’t fault so much as a single shot, line-reading, or camera angle. It’s funny and exciting. Harrison Ford is awesome as Indiana Jones, and the supporting cast are all fantastic. A number of sequences – the flying wing fight, in particular – are amongst the most skilfully mounted in Spielberg’s extraordinary oeuvre. But here’s my dirty little secret… as time has gone by, I think I have come to love Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom even more than Raiders.
Because obviously I’m now officially part of the hype machine, here is the new trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
How very, very strange is it to actually see new Indiana Jones footage? But here it is, in the new Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull trailer.
A couple of the effects look overly computerised (that ravine-side car chase looks like the awful brontosaurus chase in King Kong, and some of the temple stuff looks like it belongs in one of the Stephen Sommers Mummy movies). But I really like the feel of the warehouse stuff: it has a good, classic Indiana Jones-ish feel to it.
This year is shaping up as a particularly big year for what you might call the “mega-franchises”: the really big, big franchises that are particularly prestigious and long-running: there are new installments scheduled in the Batman, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and James Bond series.
The last few days have seen interesting developments on all of these properties, so I thought I’d do a quick run down on all of them.
I had this theory that I’d try to leave the Indiana Jones stuff alone – I’ve covered Spielberg more than enough over the years on this site, and I don’t actually expect the movie to be any good. (I hope, fervently, but don’t actually expect.) But I’m going to be tested by images such as this, the official poster for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
One of the best people writing about film is David Bordwell, co-author of the textbook Film Art, a staple of university film courses. It’s great to be able to read his writing for free, on a regular basis, and I’ve plugged one of his articles here before.
Slightly belatedly, I thought it was also worth pointing out his article on shaky camera / fast cut filmmaking, which focuses on Paul Greengrass’s The Bourne Ultimatum. The Bourne flick is long gone from cinemas, but the discussion of this style of direction should be with us for years: how many reviews of modern action films have you seen that complain about this way of shooting? (Certainly all mine do).
What’s notable about Bordwell’s article is that he pushes the discussion well beyond the usual grizzling about this style of shooting and analyses in detail what is going on. As he points out, it’s more than just the length of shots and the shakiness of the camera at work: it’s also about how shots are framed, the proximity of the camera to its subject, the way the camera focusses (and pulls focus), and the placement of cuts (as opposed to simply the length of the shots between the cuts). All this is done in some detail with very clear frame captures from the Bourne film as examples.
The title and logo for the new Indiana Jones movie are out. Wait for it:
It’s pretty hard to get excited about this. It’s a very cumbersome title, for a start (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Skull would be better). And according to a quick Wikipedia search – surely the definitive source for information about bullshit mythology – the Crystal Skull ties into folklore about both Atlantis and the Knights Templar. Atlantis is not a promising concept (all films involving scenes set underwater suck) and the Knights Templar link raises too many other links to both Last Crusade and The Da Vinci Code.
The rumour is we’ll see the first trailer in front of Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf in November.
Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation (Eric Zala, 1989)
In 1982, three twelve-year-old fans of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark (released the previous year) decided to direct their own home made remake. Eric Zala directed and played the chief villain, Belloq; Chris Strompolos played Indiana Jones; and Jayson Lamb took care of the cinematography and special effects. The “Raiders Guys” filmed on and off for seven years, completing their “adaptation” in 1989, after the release of the second official Raiders sequel, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. After a well-received screening for the local community (many of whom had been enlisted in the project), they put the film away and forgot about it until 2003, when friends-of-friends passed the movie to Harry Knowles of the website Ain’t It Cool. Knowles played the film at his “Butt-Numb-a-Thon” film festival in Texas, and wrote a rave review, describing it as “the best damn fan film I’ve ever seen.” In 2004, a detailed article about the production followed in Vanity Fair. Despite very limited screenings – the film is a flagrant copyright violation, so both screenings and the circulation of copies have been tightly controlled – the legend grew. Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation has become one of the most famous fan films ever made, and it deserves all the praise heaped upon it. It is more than just a credit to its makers’ ingenuity and love of Spielberg’s original: what might have been expected to be just an amateurish imitation becomes a wonderful mix of loving tribute, comic riff, and childhood memoir.