Indy IV – an actual review

The first scene of Indy IV is so shockingly awful that you wonder whether it was intended to be so. I suspect they filmed it right at the end knowing that the pile of crap they had in front of them might as well stink from the first frame onwards. That way you at least know what you’re going to expect. Hopes immediately crushed, you can then concentrate on snogging your date or enjoying silent popcorn burps. I suppose we should be grateful.

I’m not going to describe the particular abomination in question because some things should be experienced in their full, unanticipated splendour. Let’s just say that Lucas and Spielberg have opened their bladder over the Indiana Jones of yore and should both be arrested for a display of public immorality that even Binks rose above. Yes, you heard it right: Phantom Menace was better. Indy IV is a leaden, dull, dimwitted, tiring piece of cinematic Scheiss. If you are on the fence about seeing it, please don’t go. Do not reward their sorry arses.

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94 thoughts on “Indy IV – an actual review

  1. Wow, that awful?! I guess I’ll find something else to do this weekend. I don’t feel like paying money to swim in urine!

  2. I was thinking this must be bad from the reports. But your post has me thinking I’d love it. I’ll wait for the dollar theater though.

  3. Some of you will watch Indy IV and claim enjoyment. A year later you will look back at this post and agree that truth was spoken here. I’m feeling nostalgic for Richard Chamberlain’s King Solomon’s Mines.

  4. I don’t think it’s quite as bad as The Brit thought, (and not worse than Menace) but there were plenty of times I rolled my eyes and thought “you’ve got to be kidding me!” from the gophers that popped up a few times at the beginning to Indy using a well known Han Solo line. Too much reference to other Indy films and I lost count of how many times Mutt reference Indy’s age (yawn!) One cool reference was to an episode of the Young Indys. 6/10

  5. I’m with Rebecca. There were loads of things wrong with it, the worst of which was Karen Allen. Worst actng ever. And the ending sucked. But I’ve seen way worse movies this year.

  6. It’s worth remembering that the original three films are also pastiches of bad films. They’re cleverly constructed and show a real love of their subject matter, but they’re full of silly contrivances, bizarre and goofy one-liners, racist and sexist characterizations played for jokes, and so forth. They’re wonderful to watch, and the first film is a perfect realization of its kind — but the kind in question is “bad B movie.” I think a lot of us who grew up with these films have sort of retroactively exalted them into a category they’ve simply never occupied.

    That said, I haven’t seen the new one yet. Opinion among reviewers seems surprisingly divided; some reviews actually love it (and some seem amazed that they responded positively) while others are disappointed. Oh, well.

  7. RT,

    The “contrivances” in the first Indy spring naturally from a solid premise, one that promotes a fun comic book-like humor–and it works wonderfully well. The Indys that follow try to hack their way back into that mold in search of the original premise but never really find it. They’re superficial imitations of the first Indy. (Though Indy III succeeds far better than Indy II in capturing the original feel.)

  8. Gee, I was thinking about driving 2 and 1/2 hours across the border into another country where this film is playing just to see this film. I may have to reconsider. Ya think?

  9. I’m feeling nostalgic for Richard Chamberlain’s King Solomon’s Mines.

    Please, please, tell me you are joking. Nothing could be that bad.

  10. Scheiss is right. Fandango just sent me our confirmation for two tickets on Monday.

    I was actually feeling hope after seeing some very positive reviews. Now I’m in doubt, again …

  11. RT, I’d argue that the first film is the best action film bar none. It’s a near perfect film. I’ll grant you with the next two which this one appears to have taken the worst elements from.

  12. Clark, watch the first film again. It’s a lot of fun and very well-constructed, but it has a lot of (I think) deliberate pulpy qualities, inconsistencies, implausibilities, and lame dialogue. That’s part of what makes it work, but it’s worth remembering that these were always supposed to be (very expensive) B movies.

  13. RT, I saw it not that long ago and was actually surprised at just how good it was. There really weren’t any inconsistencies I could think of — could you name a few? I also don’t recall lame dialog. But then perhaps we have a different standard there. I wasn’t looking for Tarantino like dialogue. I thought the dialog worked perfect with what was there. We aren’t talking the kind of dialog that Lucas usually offers.

    Certainly there were pulpy qualities. But I don’t think that’s bad in and of itself. There’s lots of pulping qualities in classic films like The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, and Touch of Evil also.

    BTW – I’m seeing the new one in a couple of hours so I may have more to say then.

  14. Clark, please note that I’m not trying to say that the first Indiana Jones film wasn’t worth watching or overrated or anything — just that it was intentionally silly as well as exciting, and that the new one will probably be silly, too. It might be terrible, too; who knows.

  15. I liked the theme song to this movie. Kind of catchy. Seems like I’ve heard it somewhere before though.

    Overall, the movie felt like a rip-off of the National Treasure movies.

  16. Ok, I saw it this morning. Overall I was disappointed, but there was some good here and there. Surprisingly, I liked the story and characters, but hated the action scenes which were over-the-top and lacked suspense.

    I will say this, though. If you held the original to the same standard that you’re holding to Crystal Skull, you would have hated Raiders too.

  17. Now you mention it Jeff, there was a little lacking in the suspense department, which is weird because there were plenty of chances for suspense. Over all, I was pleased with the movie. I’m going to let it sink in and then go see it again to see how I react the second time.

    I will also say however, that when we walked out of the theater the first thing my eight year old son said was “that was way better than the other ones.”

    So, who was this movie made for again?

  18. Ian, are you trying to suggest that these movies aren’t being made to cater to my every desire? I am outraged!

    Good point, though. And the same could be said for the Star Wars movies. Internet nerds like us like to groan about the prequels as compared to the originals, but kids I talk to don’t seem to be making that distinction. To them, it’s all Star Wars.

    Just think…in 20 years, we might be living in a world where Jar Jar isn’t universally hated. Scary!

  19. RT, I understand what you are saying and I think it applies to other films such as Star Wars or that ilk. Some are quite good. I think Raiders has more affinities to noir than cheesy B movies even though it obviously uses a lot of its tropes.

    I honestly don’t think anyone going in to see Raiders would come away the same as they felt with Crystal Skull. They are very different movies with very different levels of skill in directing and writing. Which takes me to my review, now that I’ve finally seen it. (Spoilers in invisible ink – select it with your mouse to see the text)

    First I was expecting to be disappointed by the script and some of the decisions of Lucas but satisfied by the direction. (That’s how I felt about Last Crusade) Imagine my surprise to find that the script and so forth weren’t that bad but it was the direction that was lacking. In the first two Indy films (and to only a lesser extent the third) you always feel a part of the action. You are on the edge of your seat. In this one you feel strangely distant from the action. It is happening but you don’t feel that emotional reaction that the first one in particular managed.

    Let me say that I loved the first half more than I expected. (Although I went in with pretty lowered expectations) Yeah there is one campy scene that I could have done without. Indy finds himself at ground zero of a nuclear test and hides in a fridge – conveniently lead shielded. However he gets tossed through the air a few miles bouncing a bunch only to escape unharmed. Yeah that’s over the top in a way akin to the infamous “let’s jump out of a plane using a life raft” from Temple of Doom. Later in the film they go over not one but three waterfalls that would kill anyone I was definitely rolling my eyes there.

    There is much more CGI than I expected given Spielberg’s comments about trying to do it old school. And yes they do tend to be a bit jarring.

    Thankfully though the age thing is dealt with well. LeBeuf (or however you spell it) actually gives a pretty good performance. I was expecting to hate him and instead I kind of dug the character. Marion, from the first film, I was expecting to like a lot but really couldn’t stand her much. The scene where she repeats her lines from Raiders was a bit annoying.

    The part that everyone has been raving about I didn’t like. That’s the chase scene through the jungle. It could have been done so much better. As I said they don’t really get that first person element that was done so effectively from the first film. And a lot of the chase scene here is an obvious homage to Raiders. There’s just a bit too much CGI and too much of it is over the top. Yeah there were some stuff in Raiders that if you thought too much about it obviously was dubious. Such as being drug behind the Nazi truck and making it back. But it was done in a quasi-realistic way. You felt like Jones was really being thrashed by it. There wasn’t that sense of reality in this one. It had too much of a video game feel almost. Or rather the feel of watching someone else play a video game. I think Spielberg could have really made this killer had he only made the road obviously bumpy, killed the sword fight (or made it more realistic), and completely eliminated the whole Tarzan swinging through the vines, catching up with the chase and bringing monkeys to take on the Soviets. And had he done more close ups and kept a lower camera angle.

    Of course once they get to the temple enjoyment is all over for the most part. (I can say that spoiler free since it’s been in the previews plus it’s obvious they make it) While I confess I lost it about 15 minutes earlier when Marlon Brando’s Wild One becomes Tarzan it really goes askew here. You stop caring. And the eye rolling gets worse. I didn’t mind the aliens. However the natives hiding behind stone panels was stupid. First they didn’t really engage one the way they should have (as say in the first one). Second, it was stupid since how did they get behind the panels and did they restore the panels last time? And the ending is just kind of silly – although not ultimately worse than the silliness at the end of Last Crusade albeit without the quotable lines.

    So how did I like it? Surprisingly I felt about it a lot the way I felt about Last Crusade. I really like the fist half and found the second half too redundant to prior films and ultimately too silly. And much of that falls on Spielberg rather than Lucas I suspect. (Although I just don’t know how much input Lucas had on the direction – so maybe Lucas is to blame) So to me it’s nowhere near as bad as I feared but nowhere near as good as I wanted. On par with Last Crusade in my book with many of the same flaws. (Last Crusade in my book starts to fall apart once Indy is doing a fake Scottish accent)

    I will say that I was ridiculing Lucas’ comments earlier this week of a sequel with LeBeuf playing the lead and Ford doing more what Connery did last time. Now I think that might just work with the right script and if Spielberg steps it up a bit.

  20. I just got back from seeing it and I agree with almost every single thing Clark said (all the invisible ink stuff). There was very little in the movie that was done in CGI that I liked, in fact, I can’t think of any. And that groundhog? Puh-lease. What is this, Alvin and the Chipmunks? Ugh. And Clark, I had the exact same reaction when I saw that part with the stone panels. Exact. Same.

    There was some good fun in there and the dialogue wasn’t nearly as bad as I expected, some of it was actually pretty good.

    Overall it was fun, but frustrating.

  21. I forgot about the gophers. Yeah. They were awful. (Was that what Ronan was complaining about? – I thought it was the escape from the nuke in the fridge) They don’t even look like gophers. They look like the puppet gopher from Caddyshack.

    My favorite part in the film was actually the chase through the University of Chicago. I can’t believe they got permission for that.

  22. I agree with Ronan. The cool thing about the first three is that while they’re based on some supernatural McGuffin, it’s kept mysterious enough that you don’t actually have to believe that it’s real to be entertained. In no. 4, it’s in your face from the first sequence and it’s so inconsistent that you start to question the rest of the (usually enjoyable) campy schlock.

  23. Clark, I’ll have to wait to see the new film before I can say anything sensible about it. But… The first Indiana Jones film as noir? You’ve befuddled me. I guess it and, say, Double Indemnity do share some traits. They were both recorded on film, and they star actors who speak English.

  24. For the record, this is now the fourth movie or series based off of a ride at Disneyland.

  25. Okay, so my #30 is spot on! But I was too tired to explain in full. So, here’s why I think it is total crap. First, I expected more from Spielberg, Lucas and Ford. (Perhaps that was my first mistake.) By the end of the show, I was sure E.T. was in the room. The attempt at humor with the gophers didn’t even elicit much of a response from the audience. The characters were dull and I didn’t connect with any of them. Over the decades, Ford has been one of my favorite actors, but this film quickly removed him from this status. While I really like Cate Blanchett, I found her character and acting unbelievable and strained. LeBeuf’s character was more like Danny in Grease. I almost expected a sing-a-long song in the diner scene. And the ending, well, why does Hollywood think this is an acceptable ending that will make the viewers happy? Overall the action sequences were boriiiinng! I couldn’t get out of the theater fast enough. It felt like the only reason they brought Jones back was to set us up for a newer younger Jones to take on the roll. (If you’ve seen the ending, I think it’s setting us up for the idea that Jones Jr. III will take it on.)

  26. Abby: Actually, I got the opposite idea from the ending. I thought it was poking fun at internet rumors, saying “heck no–nobody can replae Harrison”.

    Clark: 100% agreed. With everything you said. I’ve spent enough time deconstructing the jungle chases sequence on other message boards, but you’ve summed up my thoughts exactly. It was way too silly, and there was nothing to draw us in as viewers. I felt totally removed from the action. Compare it to similar “climax before the climax” sequencse in the previous movies(truck chase, mine cart, tank sequence) and it’s not even CLOSE to the same feeling of excitement.

  27. Clark, they didn’t actually film at the University of Chicago (which I attended), but at Yale (which I was gratified to also recognize from having attended a conference there.)

    I thought some of the film was pretty good, and parts of it were indeed utter crap and very disappointing. I wasn’t into the ending. Too spinny…

  28. Ah. Interesting. (For the record I’ve not been to either campus – but I’m not sure getting permission to do a car chase at Yale is somehow easier than at Chicago) Was he supposed to be a Prof at Yale or at Chicago? I know he went to Chicago but I thought he taught there too.

    RT, I think the noir is pretty strong. For the best example think of the bar scene after he thinks Marion is dead. Look at the lighting in particular. Yeah there’s no femme fatal although I don’t think that’s necessary for noir.

  29. After Ronan’s excellent review, I’m wondering why so many people on this thread have seen the movie. I don’t see anything in Clark’s review that Ronan didn’t already cover with the phrase “opened their bladder over.”

  30. Jacob, the movie’s not nearly as bad as Ronan made out. I put it on par with Last Crusade but better than the Star Wars prequels which were truly bad (although each one was better than the one before – Indy films are the inverse of that)

  31. Clark, there’s also basically no crime story, no nihilistic view of humanity, and generally very few nighttime sequences. Perhaps there might be a few moments in which some of the cinematography has noir influences, but the film just isn’t noir-like. This just wasn’t an influence on Indiana Jones, I think. A much better example, in my view, of a relatively recent noir-influenced film is The Man Who Wasn’t There.

  32. Certainly The Man Who Wasn’t There is noir. But I think you’re wrong to say one has to have tons of night time shots to be noir. A lot of it is heavy use of shadows and light to convey a mood. Certainly most noir is crime oriented and in that regard Raiders isn’t. In terms of a certain way of establishing a mood and using light to do that I think Spielberg was very influenced by 40’s and 50’s noir – at least as much as old school serials and westerns.

    But there’s a big mix of genres in Raiders.

    Look at the direction style differences in Temple and Crusade though. The use of shadow is significantly different.

    Now one could argue this is less influence of the genre and more influence by directors like Huston. Perhaps, although I think that’s ultimately a difference without a difference.”

    To add while obviously the crime dramas are classic noir many would say noir isn’t a fixed genre. So non-crime films such as High Noon or Laura are sometimes classified with noir. There is ongoing debate about whether Casablanca should be seen as noir.

  33. “Compare it to similar “climax before the climax” sequencse in the previous movies…”

    I haven’t seen Indy IV (and I don’t plan on seeing it any time soon) but it sounds like what your getting at–with the above quote–is that there’s not a solid second act resolution. The “climax before the climax” in Indy I–the truck chase–is when he finally gets the Ark. That’s the goal of the Act II. And if the same clarity doesn’t exist in Indy IV then it’s likely they don’t know what story they’re really telling.

    I kinda get the idea from I’ve been reading here that there’s a lot of sloshing around in the script–that they didn’t have a solid premise. Or if they did that they weren’t being true to it because of all the silly expectations they had to meat because of external influences.

  34. RT, I should add that when I’m talking about noir I’m talking about Spielberg’s directorial style and not the plot. In case that wasn’t obvious. In terms of plot Crusade has many more noir elements and Raiders almost none.

    Jack, spoilers ahoy so select the text below.

    The climax of the second act is the finding of the skull in the graveyard. The parallel to Raiders is that in both cases Indy gets discovered by his adversaries and his treasure stolen. So there’s not a big structural problem here in terms of plot. There is a bit of a pacing problem in that Spielberg doesn’t quite do the big buildup that he did in Raiders (or to a lesser extent in the two sequels – there the climax is rescuing his father but losing the notebook and finding the high priest – sacred rock).

  35. Casablanca, unlike in my view Indiana Jones, has many of the five classic defining traits of film noir, which are that the film is “oneiric, strange, erotic, ambivalent, and cruel,” according to a very early attempt at definition by the film critics Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton (possibly the inventors of the term). Is The Raiders of the Lost Ark dreamlike? Exotic? Erotic? Ambivalent about its hero and about morality? Cruel to the audience? Or we could adopt secondary traits often associated with the genre. Is The Raiders of the Lost Ark in black and white? Does it have a predominantly urban setting? I just don’t think a case can seriously be made.

    Nor can a case be made, in my view, that the setup for The Raiders of the Lost Ark was influenced by noir films. When George Lucas (not Spielberg) wrote the script, he was — as he has often said — trying to do what he’d done with Star Wars: pay homage to the serial films of the 1930s and 1940s. About the closest to a connection with noir that the filmmakers seem to acknowledge is a comparison with the James Bond films — but those films are really adventure films and don’t have much of a noir flavor to them, either (unlike the more recent film).

    Overall, I just don’t think there’s a case to be made here. I think there’s probably a much better case to be made that The Raiders of the Lost Ark is a screwball comedy.

  36. Clark, regarding the directorial style, I still don’t think there’s a case. (It becomes trickier when we acknowledge that noir as a style is largely defined by script elements such as plot, character, and themes.) Spielberg uses some shadows, but shadows are frequently used in a lot of genres. If Spielberg were using shadows in a noir way, they would be used for the purpose of emphasizing moral ambiguity and cynicism about the alleged hero. Does Raiders of the Lost Ark do that? How much moral ambiguity can there be when the villains are the @#@$#@ Nazis?

    I’ll drop this now; I’ve probably already pushed this point much further than it deserved…

  37. Good idea, Clark. Spoiling or not, I’m making all my comments invisible for now on.

  38. I deleted your tests. To make invisible text type <font color=#FFF> and then put the </font> to end invisibility.

  39. RT, I see your point. I think it’s more than just shadows though but rather the way shadows and lighting is used as well as a lot of camera work. I’m certainly not saying he’s copying formal noir (although as I said I think noir is broader than you suggest)

    I do think Spielberg was mimicing a lot of styles that were common in the 40’s and 50’s that then later became characterized as noir. But the stylistic elements weren’t just used in crime dramas (thus High Noon). In Temple of Doom and Lost Crusade he moved away from that directorial style. In Crystal Skull he has a new style with a lot of backlighting and weird halos. At first I didn’t like it but it grew on me. What bugged me was that the pacing and editing was quite off (IMO). Then he didn’t follow that “cliche Spielberg” style that he was known for in the 70’s and 80’s but which he consciously moved away from with Schindler’s List and after.

  40. Clark,

    I guess I can’t do much good by way of criticism at this point–not until I’ve seen it. (Though I kinda feel like the drama critic in Arsenic and Old Lace–who writes his columns before he goes to the theater. It’s all so damned predictable.) And I’m not ready to read the spoilers–yet. I do want to see the movie at some point and try to get what enjoyment I can from it–even if it’s only laughter.

    That said, Spielberg is pretty good (too good sometimes) at hitting the plots points when and where they need to be hit. I’m just wondering if he sloshed his way around a bit in the process because of external expectations–you know, all the stuff that “ought” to be in an Indy film that gets thrown in even though the premise doesn’t really call for it.

  41. For the record, “climax before the climax” was just my goofy way of describing the “big” action sequences in Indy movies. In Raiders, it was the truck chase scene. It’s not actually the “climax” of the story, because that occurs when the Ark is opened…but it’s really the last major choreographed fight scene/stunt showcase in the movie.

    I can’t say I had any problem with the second act resolution…as I’ve said, the story was fine by me. (Not great, but typical Indy.) My criticisms are aimed squarely at the action sequence itself.

    …so has anybody figured out what was so “shockingly awful” about the first scene? The kids driving? Or the action sequence itself? The gophers? There’s some questional stuff here and there, but all in all I liked the opening.

    Final thought before I go to bed: the prequels were better than this movie.

  42. Watching Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is like watching your favorite band on a reunion tour. You enjoy the band not because of what they are now, but because of what they were back then. Because of what you were back then. They’re not going to change the world anymore, and neither are you, and there are new bands that are much more relevant, but every now and then, for a couple of minutes at a time, they can still rip it up and really rock, and that reminds you that you still can too. And that’s why I give Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull a 7/10 despite its flaws. Every now and then, for a couple of minutes at a time, the movie rips it up and really rocks.

    The rest of my review is here.

  43. It’s always been a puzzle to me why these guys, who make a kajillion dollars off a movie, can’t hire a writer or group of writers who can produce a decent script. Great artists produce works that are NOT simply a reworking of their previous stuff – but, are still distinctively theirs. (Think Beatles, Hitchcock.)

  44. “Mondo Cool” there were some excellent scripts that Spielberg wanted to do but Lucas kept vetoing. Supposedly it was the source of some tension. As to why Lucas lost it sometime in the late 80’s I don’t know.

  45. I just came back from seeing the new Indy movie. I didn’t think it was really all that bad a movie. It was merely entertainment – but it gave what I would have expected or wanted.

    Honestly, I think this one was better than the second and third movies in the series.

    I was bracing myself for horrible because of the review here – but I think the negativity is very much overstated.

    Will I buy it when it comes out on DVD. NO. But it was fine for a Memorial Day movie outing.

  46. A few comments.

    1. You Indy IV lovers (or tolerators): you will come to see your unjustified generosity as time goes by. Sometimes it takes a while to notice you have stepped in a dog turd.

    2. Yes, I’m thinking of the f****** gophers. In Raiders, the Paramount mountain serves as a nice backdrop to a cool, moody, jungle intro. Here we get a CGI gopher. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. I bet this was George “Jar Jar stepping in poo” Lucas’s idea.

    3. Said gopher is the reason why Phantom Menace is better. It took me four minutes to realise TPM was crap — when the first battle droid said “roger! roger!”. Indy IV lost me at 3 seconds.

    4. RT: Raiders may be nod to B-movie serials, but it’s nowhere near as camp and hokey as you seem to imply.

    5. I find it bizarre that people would suggest we fanboys not compare Indy IV to the earlier films. Why else would we watch it?! The premise of this film — geriatric archaeologist searches for aliens — would have zero appeal if it was not part of the Indy franchise. This film must be compared with the others!

    6. Which brings me to Clark. I’m willing to accept that my hatred for Indy IV is not shared by all, but there’s no way in hell that it’s on par with Last Crusade. In the vast majority of categories, LC is far superior, even if it’s no Raiders.

    Harrison Ford: sharp, mid-80’s Harrison vs. bored, Ally McBeal Harrison. (His acting in IV is appalling.)

    Intro: River Phoenix vs. gophers and an Area 51 guarded by three people.

    Sidekick: Sean Connery vs. Sam Witwicky (he’s not bad, but he ain’t Marlon Brando).

    Villain: Nazis, Donovan, Elsa vs. Russian Girl (Blanchett simply has no idea how she’s supposed to play the role).

    Supporting characters: Salah, Marcus Brody vs. Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent (great actors all, but they are piss poor in this movie).

    Object: Holy Grail vs. X-filesian, plastic skull.

    Fights: Tank chase vs. CGI monkeys.

    Critters: Rats vs. CGI man-eating ants.

    Love interest: Elsa “Zis is how ve say goodbye in Austria” Schneider vs. Marion “The Grin” Ravenwood.

    Improbabilities: The German plane in the tunnel vs. the waterfalls.

    Mysterious character: Grail knight vs. Gray.

    Challenge: The 3 challenges vs. sweeping the floor of John Hurt’s cell.

    Locations: Venice vs. green screen.

    Music: Grail Theme vs. ?

    I simply cannot believe anyone would rate Indy IV higher than III. When my boys watch Crusade, I’m always happy to sit and watch a few scenes. Offered a ticket to watch IV again, I’d decline.

    Lucas is a wanker. Of course, I’m still going to watch the Clone Wars…

  47. #57, this is just an illustration of the danger of writing seriously about a movie that you fell in love with during childhood. Raiders of the Lost Ark is perfect for what it is, but that last clause is more important than Indy worshipers recognize… A really great movie from the 1980s, though? Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation.

  48. Tomahto Man,
    Je ne comprends pas your point. The fact that Raiders is brilliant and IJatKotCS is rubbish stands independent from my idyllic childhood in the English shires. Honestly. I also watched the Dark Crystal during the halcyon summer of 1982. No nostalgia for Jim Henson’s puppets here.

  49. RT, speak not until you’ve actually seen Indy IV… Ronan speaks from the position of experience.

  50. Supergenius, I’m not talking about Indy IV; I take Ronan’s words at face value. I’m just referring to Ronan’s remarks on the original film. While it was a great movie, I think it has deliberate limitations — which become all the more important when you consider its influence on the future development of the summer blockbuster genre…

  51. RT,

    I cannot talk with you. Anyone our age who uses the word “limitations” in conjunction with Raiders is dead to me, and dead to the world. It’s perfect, whatever cinephilic mumbo jumbo you choose to employ.

    Are you a sociopath or something?

  52. Brit, Brit… If I were a sociopath, I’d tell you what the limitations are.

    Seriously, I’m not saying it’s a bad film — I really like it. Just that it’s a deliberately goofy film, and one that I think intentionally creates hollow characterizations and unresolved plot holes. These were homage, not error, but they’re still there. That is the whole of my point here. Oh, and also that there’s no noir in Indy… :)

  53. RT,
    It’s so not goofy. And anyway, I still don’t understand your point. Raiders (not goofy) is brilliant. Skull is crap. Roll credits. Crank chainsaw.

  54. I accept your claim that Skull is crap, Ronan. No worries. And, yeah, Raiders is great.

    But, come on. It is really, truly goofy. This doesn’t excuse the fourth film — there’s goofy that’s fun to watch and goofy that isn’t. But the first film, well, how many things that people do in that film are things that any person would actually do? The number has to be somewhere near zero. The villains in particular are, well, one-dimensional might be too optimistic. Half-dimensional? And the big supernatural climax is fun but clearly intentionally silly; angels of death and everything.

    I agree that this doesn’t excuse anything about any other film. My original point was that, as with Star Wars, people are going to view the new film in light of very emotional attachments to the old ones — attachments that even the old ones themselves wouldn’t completely live up to if we were to somehow encounter them fresh as adults.

  55. RT,
    In my internet life, I have agreed with everything you have ever written, until now. I think you’re letting the jaded, thirty-something, Mr. Tomahtoes speak. Either that, or “goofy” means something different in America. For me, goofy = Jar Jar Binks. Raiders is at turns fun and comic-strip entertaining, but it’s not goofy. You are just wrong, sir.

    Belloq, for instance, is not half-dimensional. I mean, he’s clearly evil, but you kind of admire the way he steals stuff from Jones. You’d happily drink a glass of Chateau Belloq with him. And the supernatural ending? Goofy, perhaps, to Professor Tomahtoes of 2008. I actually think it’s quite stirring and a bit scary. But that’s me, a human being, speaking. No doubt you and your brother Dexter Morgan find it hilarious.

  56. In my internet life, I have agreed with everything you have ever written, until now

    I can attest to Ronan’s man-tasy for RT. He’s mentioned in on several occasions.

    RT, Raiders is anything but goofy. The “supernatural” ending made me nearly $hit my pants when I was a boy, and my interest in the ark and its powers was set from that point on. I rewatched it a few weeks ago and it is still awesome film.

    how many things that people do in that film are things that any person would actually do?

    Um, none. That’s why we go to the movies – to see the unreal. At least that’s why I go.

  57. Okay, seriously, man… I don’t mean “goofy” to inherently mean “awful.” “Comic-strip-like” is something like what I have in mind.

    I don’t really know if we agree about Belloq. Sure, he steals everything from Indy. And he has the hots for Marian. Does he have any other character traits? And I can’t find a way to answer on the ending, complete with sociopath jokes, without actually feeling mad at you — which I don’t want, and isn’t relevant, so I’ll leave off here.

  58. David, no worries. I don’t disagree that Raiders is a great film. And the ending was scary for me when I was single-digits, too. By age 11? Naw, but it’s still fun.

    Going to the movies to see the unreal? Sure, maybe. But in my opinion the best movies are those that feature people who could be real, even if they have better dialogue and more interesting plot points than real people usually do. That’s my point here: Raiders is a fun film and brilliantly done, and it’s consistently cartoonish.

  59. RT,

    You’re way more mature than I am then! Because at 35, Raiders is still rad (yes, I said “rad”).

    -Proud owner of Raiders on VHS and DVD.

  60. Raiders is a great, great movie. A classic.

    None of the others come even close.

    I thought Last Crusade hewed too closely to the pattern set by Raiders. Blatantly formulaic. It made me feel like the Indy series was destined to be the cinematic version of the Hardy Boys books. Same pattern, over and over again.

    If I was going to criticize anything in the IV movie, it’s that the villain gets dissolved/destroyed at the end in some fantastical way as in previous movies. That seems to be part of the formula. It worked great in the 1st movie but after that it became imitation.

    The faces melting at the end of the first movie: AWESOME.

    Again, I don’t think IV was a great movie. I wouldn’t say I loved it. But I didn’t hate it.

    Yes, the gopher was obviously CGI. But from the way the post came across, I was expecting the gopher to talk or break out into song. Honestly, the gophers are a very small detail/distraction.

  61. Just for fun: two films in more or less the same genre that I think are better than Raiders of the Lost Ark are The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Princess Bride. All three are great films, but I think the other two have a little bit more to offer — and in fact are also a touch more fun to watch in my opinion.

  62. RT, you seriously think The Princess Bride is better than Raiders? Allow me to lend you a book: How To Comment On Pop Culture Blogs Without Destroying Street Cred.

  63. RT,
    I think that both of those movies are genres away from RotLA. I would group Princess Bride with swashbucklers (the first Pirates movies is what immediately comes to mind). I would group treasure with Westerns or noir flicks (in substance, if not style). For straight up adventure, it is hard to beat RotLA.

  64. SG, cheers, man — you’re a fanboy among fanboys. But seriously: which film has a better script, more memorable characters, and more innovative settings? Raiders surely looks better, but that’s largely a function of great cinematography and a higher budget. On the other issues, it’s at least a contest.

    John C., I’m not really sure how much difference there is between a swashbuckler and an adventure. If you mean that Princess Bride is set in the past and has swordplay while Raiders doesn’t, you’re right. But that’s a very narrow sort of distinction. I guess this all substantially comes down to how we define “adventure.” If that genre is defined narrowly enough, Raiders can surely be made to be the best in the category. If it’s seen as a broader genre in which swashbucklers and films like Treasure belong to specific subgenres, the contest becomes harder to decide.

  65. “which film has a better script, more memorable characters, and more innovative settings?”

    Raiders. Raiders. Raiders. RAIDERS!

  66. I thought Raiders was a masterpiece and The Princess Bride one of the dumbest movies ever. Maybe it’s because I saw Raiders when it first came out, and the Bride only years later, but I think that’s only a small contributing factor.

  67. I admit, I got all excited when the music rolled and my daughter nudged me and said, “Mom, that’s our music.” Best part of the night.
    I did love the beginning, when the hat falls to the ground and we get the famous silhouette before actually seeing Indi. Then it’s all over for me.
    The Tarzan scene was the last nail. Lucas is out to destroy all that is good from my childhood by infusing it with baggage from the present.
    Not much else to add since Ronan put it so succinctly, especially in post #57.

  68. Finally saw it, regrettably so. There are a lot of reviewers who have lost a lot of credibility on this one.

    Indy was OSS is WWII?!?

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