Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the fourth installment in an already completed trilogy no one asked for. I’m so tired of Hollywood’s habit of doing that. Especially since it was 19 years after the fact. At that time Indy only appeared in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (which Last Crusade put into motion). As I’ve said before, the Indiana Jones trilogy was something I watched when I was a kid. I checked out a DVD box set at the library and enjoyed them a few years before the newest one was released. The first trailer filled me with excitement the second the theme started to play over Indy putting on his fedora. Then my family and I went to see the movie and let’s just say, I view it the same way I view the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Both are fun to watch and make fun of. Even though the trilogy was done George Lucas brought the idea back into Steven Spielberg’s head. With the idea of a 50’s set B movie about aliens. As if he didn’t learn his lesson, Lucas filled it with all the awkward dialogue and over abundant CGI of the prequels. Along with actors that don’t quite fit the role. Remember when Shia LaBeouf was still a thing? Harrison Ford was also 64 at the time, but that wasn’t a problem for him…
Indiana Jones finds the crystal skull
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had no other choice but to set things in the 50’s. Since it was 19 years in real life, it had to be set 19 years after 1938. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens with the Paramount logo turning into a prairie dog hill. This won’t be the last time we see CGI prairie dogs. It’s here in 1957 Nevada that Indiana Jones and his partner Mac are captured by Soviet forces. They wanted to use Nazis again, but the Cold War was unavoidable. It’s what makes this installment feel more like James Bond than any of the others. Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko orders Indy to help them find a corpse involved in the Roswell UFO crash. With the hopes of finding a psychic crystal skull. Cate Blanchett is good at accents, but her performance is a little cartoony. This movie also bares the distinction of not focusing on a religious artifact. No matter how many TV specials came on at the time claiming it was in some way spiritual. Indy proves that he’s still got it when he narrowly escapes the warehouse (which also holds the Ark). Things go down hill real fast when Indy ends up in a suburban atomic testing range and actually survives by crawling into a lead lined refrigerator. That’s when the term “Nuke the fridge” was born. Indy then faces the loss of his job and runs into a greaser kid named Mutt Williams. You get what you expect from Shia LaBeouf. At least their motorcycle chase is good. In Peru, they find the aforementioned crystal skull. Then get captured by the Soviets and Indy’s traitorous partner. At camp they find the psychically disturbed Oxley and Marion Ravenwood played again by Karen Allen. Making her the only returning love interest. After a big CGI duck boat chase, Mutt swinging with CGI monkeys, and hordes of CGI fire ants, the group finally makes it to the titular Akator kingdom. Where the crystal skull magnetically attaches itself to a skeleton and transforms into a CGI alien. I’m sorry, I mean “interdimensional.” They don’t fly off to space, but to the space between spaces. To say aliens don’t belong in a series like this would be an understatement. Indy and Marion then get married and Mutt is revealed to be his son. Despite being entertaining, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull does just about everything wrong with the once relatively grounded adventure franchise.
Indiana Jones witnesses an atomic explosion
Preceded by: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade goes back to the basics. After Temple of Doom took things too far in a different direction, Steven Spielberg knew they needed to go back to what made Raiders of the Lost Ark work. Intending it to be a sort of apology. That also meant toning down the dark imagery. That being said, Last Crusade still managed to become the first movie in the trilogy to retain a PG-13 rating. Although the other two movies would definitely be PG-13 if released today. Just like the Star Wars trilogy, I enjoyed watching the Indiana Jones trilogy as a kid. The third installment left me feeling a little indifferent. Last Crusade is a lot more like Raiders of the Lost Ark for several reasons. The university is seen again, characters like Sallah and Marcus Brody return, and it once again uses a Christian artifact as a MacGuffin and Nazis as the villains. The script went through several unusual drafts until Spielberg finally went with George Lucas’ idea to use the Holy Grail. The idea to focus on Indy’s relationship with his father was added to make the search more meaningful. Despite being 12 years older than Harrison Ford, Sean Connery was the perfect choice to play him. Since James Bond is in a way the father of Indiana Jones…
Indiana Jones and Henry Jones Sr. get trapped in a burning building
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade opens with the Paramount logo turning into a rock formation. It’s here in 1912 Utah that we’re treated to the origin of Indiana Jones. River Phoenix plays Indy as a boy scout that discovers a band of grave robbers recovering a golden crucifix. He fearlessly takes the artifact with the intention of getting it to a museum. The chase brings him to a circus train where he develops a fear of snakes and uses a bullwhip against a lion (resulting in a chin scar). Unsuccessful at first, Indy nevertheless dedicates his life to archaeology when the robber dressed in a leather jacket and fedora gives him his hat. In 1938 Portugal, Indy finally gets the crucifix back from the man in a Panama Hat. He’s then informed by Walter Donovan that his father Henry Jones Sr. is missing after searching for the Holy Grail. Something he’s been journaling for most of his life. While searching for his father, Indy teams up with fellow professor Dr. Elsa Schneider. She’d be a good match for him if not for one small detail. In Venice they discover the rat infested catacombs beneath a library that leads them even closer to the Grail. After a life threatening boat chase, Indy (using the name Mickey Mouse) and Elsa find Henry in a Nazi infested castle. It’s there we discover Elsa and Donovan are actually working for the Nazis. Indy’s relationship with his father is strained due to his distant nature and for calling his son Junior. Indy’s real name is Henry Jones Jr. Like in real life Indiana is the name of his childhood dog. Together they hilariously escape a burning room while tied up. Then they engage in a thrilling motorcycle chase, fly on a blimp (“No ticket!”), dogfight, and fight a tank in an impressive sequence. Indy even awkwardly runs into Hitler. Their relationship is put to the ultimate test when Indy has to lead Elsa and Donovan through the temple containing the Holy Grail. Since it contains healing properties for the wounded Jones Sr. Indy must face a series of faith based obstacles were he has to kneel before God, spell out the name of Jesus, and take a literal leap of faith. They encounter the immortal Grail Knight who gives them a test to find the real Grail. Donovon chooses poorly and disintegrates. While Indy chooses the cup of a carpenter and survives. It’s only when the Grail is lost that Indy realizes his father is more important than any artifact. Ending with Indiana Jones, his father, Marcus, and Sallah riding off into the sunset. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade bookends the trilogy with a deeper understanding of what adventure is all about.
Indiana Jones meets the Grail Knight
Preceded by: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom & Followed by: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is either the best or the worst of the original trilogy. You either love the sudden dark tone or hate it. Regardless, it’s definitely the odd one out. I actually liked it the most when I was a kid, but now I’m not so sure. 1984 was still the best possible year for it to come out though. The reason for the sudden dark tone is because George Lucas and Steven Spielberg both experienced breakups. Which explains the use of child slavery, black magic, and ritual human sacrifice. It ended up being so intense that it was one of the two movies that encouraged the creation of the PG-13 rating. Since Spielberg contributed to Gremlins as well, he suggested the MPAA conceive a rating between PG and R. Temple of Doom faced many other problems as well. Lucas promised Spielberg he had thought up sequels in advance, but like the Star Wars trilogy, that wasn’t the case. Other ideas included dinosaurs, the Monkey King, and a haunted castle. Until they finally decided on a Temple in India. Many action set piece ideas were recycled from previous Raiders of the Lost Ark scripts. The production had to be rushed a bit too and Harrison Ford suffered a serious back injury. It’s almost like the movie was cursed…
Indiana Jones prepares to cut the bridge
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is actually a prequel. Not a sequel like some people assume. You can tell by the date being 1935 (one year before the first movie). That’s because George Lucas didn’t want Nazis to be the villains once again. Temple of Doom opens with the Paramount logo turning into a Chinese gong. It’s here in 1935 Beijing that Indy (dressed a little like James Bond) is currently on a mission involving the exchange of an artifact with diamonds. We’re also introduced to Willie Scott. A loud, whiny, nightclub singer that was intended to be the complete opposite of Marion Ravenwood. That was a bit of a mistake since Indy brings her along for some reason after being poisoned, riding a gong out a window, and falling into a car. The only part of the movie Steven Spielberg doesn’t regret is meeting Kate Capshaw. Since they’ve been married since 1991. The car in question is driven by Indy’s wacky 11 year old Asian sidekick Short Round. We all know how kid sidekicks can be, but I don’t mind him too much. After winding up on the crime boss’ plane, Indy, Willie, and Short Round end up having to jump out using a life raft. They end up in India where a poverty stricken village pleads for the safe return of their children and three Sankara stones. The focus on Hindu artifacts contrasts with the first and third focusing on Christian artifacts. The trio make their way to the Palace where they’re greeted with a warm welcome. Including a disgusting dinner of eyeball soup and monkey brains. Indiana Jones discovers the titular “temple of doom” underneath the palace. Avoiding a ground full of bugs, crushing spikes, and retrieving his hat in the process. They witness a Thuggee cult ritual where the evil Mola Ram actually rips peoples hearts out while they’re still alive. They can also control minds (including Indy’s) with the blood of Kali. After the children are freed, the trio escape in an exciting mine cart sequence. Followed by an equally exciting final confrontation on a rope bridge. Despite being overly dark and having somewhat annoying supporting characters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom nevertheless proves boundary pushing adventure is what counts the most.
The temple of doom
Followed by: Raiders of the Lost Ark & Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Raiders of the Lost Ark marks the return of great adventure. In what is perhaps one of the greatest adventure movies ever made. It was practically a mandatory viewing experience when I was a kid. It’s not hard to see why considering the duo that made it. Indiana Jones is the brainchild of George Lucas, directed by his friend Steven Spielberg. Much like Star Wars, Lucas intended for the movie to recapture old fashioned serials of the black & white era. With a dashing hero going on many exciting adventures. Lucas originally called it The Adventures of Indiana Smith. The idea was stashed away until after the success of both Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lucas convinced Spielberg that his idea would be better than James Bond. Since Spielberg was considering making a Bond film at the time. His only suggestion was to change the name to Indiana Jones. And thus, an icon is born. The only problem was finding the perfect lead. After Tom Selleck famously turned down the role, Harrison Ford became the obvious choice. Lucas wasn’t sure he wanted to use the same actor more than once, but it was a decision that more than payed off…
Indiana Jones carefully retrieves the idol
Raiders of the Lost Ark is everything an adventure film should be. It’s simple, exciting, easy to follow, has a sense of humor, and brings us some of the most groundbreaking action seen at the time. He may live in the 30’s, but Indiana Jones is an 80’s icon. His appearance and characterization make him one of the most easily identifiable heroes in cinema. Indiana Jones is an archaeology professor that all the girls are crazy for. In his spare time, Indy enjoys going on globetrotting adventures to recover ancient artifacts. When out on adventures Indiana Jones wears a brown leather jacket and fedora. He always carries a satchel, a gun, and his famous bullwhip. Another defining trait is his fear of snakes. Raiders of the Lost Ark opens with the Paramount logo turning into a real mountain. It’s here in 1936 Peru that we’re slowly introduced to Indiana Jones. The entire opening sequence is one of the best in movie history. As Indy and a guide enter a temple, avoid various booby traps, and find a golden idol. Indy carefully retrieves the idol, but now has to contend with a giant boulder coming straight for him. After a betrayal, Indy comes face to face with his rival Belloq. Upon returning to his university, Dr. Marcus Brody and 2 agents reveal a plot by the Nazis to recover the lost Ark of the Covenant. Which they plan to use to grant them power as described in The Bible. The map takes Indy to Nepal and then Egypt. In Nepal he runs into his old flame Marion Ravenwood. A tough bar owner that’s the perfect match for Indy, played by Karen Allen. After a scuffle, the two team up with Indy’s friend Sallah in Cairo. It’s there we have such famous scenes as Indy casually shooting a sword wielding henchman. The Well of Souls is discovered with the Staff of Ra. It’s there we find the Ark unfortunately surrounded by snakes. Indy’s back and forth with the Nazis takes him from truck to boat, until he and Marion are both captured. Leading to the opening of the Ark. In a graphic sequence that sees the death of all the Nazis that dare look upon it. Raiders of the Lost Ark was so good that it was nominated for 9 Oscars, including Best Picture. It won for Best Art Direction, Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Visual Effects. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark goes to show that with a charismatic lead, a thrilling theme by John Williams, and a true sense of adventure, anything is possible.
Indiana Jones outruns a boulder
Preceded by: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The Devil Wears Prada showcases the high stakes world of fashion. It was also Anne Hathaway’s much more successful attempt at becoming a serious actress. She plays Andy, a fashionably challenged journalist fresh out of college. As with sports movies, I know next to nothing about the film’s subject matter. Like Andy, fashion has never been all that important to me. Which doesn’t stop her from landing the job of assistant at the prestigious Runway fashion magazine. Run by the fiercely intimidating editor Miranda Priestly. Her calm demeanor, casual insults, and commanding presence makes her one of Meryl Streep’s finest performances to date. This was also Emily Blunt’s breakout role as Emily. Andy’s fashion conscious rival co-worker who works herself to illness. Plus Stanley Tucci as Andy’s other co-worker who helps bring her into the fashion world. After a makeover, Andy proves herself by running errands, finding an unpublished Harry Potter manuscript, remembering names, and setting appointments all for Miranda. It’s here we see Miranda’s somewhat softer side, but not until after Andy decides the fashion world is not for her. The Devil Wears Prada is unsurprisingly full of stylish outfits that would make any fashion forward person gush. As well as plenty of strong characters and performances that elevate it from being pure showiness. “That’s all.”
Miranda (left) speaks with Andy (right)
Havoc is as the title suggests, full of self-destruction. It was also Anne Hathaway’s first attempt at shedding her good girl Disney image. For most young stars that means appearing in the most adult movie possible. Since this came out a year after The Princess Diaries 2 and a few months before Brokeback Mountain. Havoc deals with drugs, gang violence, promiscuity, and a variety of other heavy topics. All involving teens. The final result can be hard to watch, but not always for the reason you think. Havoc centers around the documented exploits of rich white kids from L.A. that talk and act like gangstas just cause they’re bored. It’s kinda too cringy to take seriously. Especially since a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum play a part. Their stupid behavior eventually catches up with them once they willingly enter a tough neighborhood and reality sets in. Although that doesn’t stop Hathaway’s character from going back, getting arrested, and bringing her equally incompetent best friend along for the ride. Anne Hathaway swears frequently and appears naked several times. It’s the main reason I knew the movie existed. It was apparently so lewd that it was released direct-to-video. Not that Hathaway isn’t putting effort into her performance. If Havoc is trying to say something, it’s probably to not make dumb decisions.
Allison flirts with Eric
Carrie (2013) is the completely unnecessary remake to the already perfect 1976 original. Not including the 2002 TV version. This was before Hollywood began to see the potential in remaking already adapted Stephen King stories. So nobody really gave it a chance. Although the trailer and promotional prank video did peak my interest, I pretty much felt the same way. That’s why I didn’t go to the theater to see it. Their first mistake was casting Chloe Grace Moretz to play Carrie White. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very talented and does do well in the role. She’s just too pretty to convincingly portray someone who’s supposed to be average. Sissy Spacek’s appearance and Prom transformation was much more convincing. She’s also underage, so the locker room taunting scene is less revealing. Carrie’s mother has the same problem with appearance. Julianne Moore is equally good, but doesn’t fit the description. Other parts of the book are taken into account though. Like Chris Hargensen’s wealth or Miss Desjardin surviving in the end. The main problem I had is the way it was shot, too much slow motion, and some of the casting. Judy Greer is just too quirky to work as the gym teacher. There’s also a strangely out of place scene at the end about Sue Snell’s relationship with Tommy. The Prom scene doesn’t work for me because too many people survive it. There’s not enough blind rage. Even worse is Chris and her boyfriend’s death. Where she uses her telekinesis to very slowly cause their car to crash. Carrie (2013) is either too different or too familiar to break any new ground.
Remake of: Carrie (1976)
The Rage: Carrie 2 is the only forced sequel made for Carrie. Considering Carrie’s death at the end of the first film, there was no point in making a sequel. Stephen King never made a follow up and it was already 3 decades old. Which is why I’m certain it was only referred to as Carrie 2 just to attract more people to it. Apart from the lead having telekinesis, clips of the 1976 movie, and the return of Sue Snell, it’s barely worth seeing. Amy Irving now plays an older Sue Snell who works as a school counselor. She discovers that Rachel’s power is the result of her being the fraternal half sister of Carrie. Although her power is far less impressive than the original. Since some of it is shot in black & white and uses bad CGI. As a 1999 teen movie, the dialogue is often cringy too. The Rage centers around goth outcast Rachel Lang after the suicide of her best friend Lisa, played by a busy Mena Suvari. When a popular jock starts dating her, it leads to a similar sequence of Rachel snapping and killing everyone who wronged her. Only with modern technology and too many jokes. They also kill Sue, which really annoyed me. The Rage: Carrie 2 fills me with rage and regret for having watched it.
Preceded by: Carrie
Carrie is the first Stephen King book ever adapted. Which also happens to be his first published book. Hard to believe the “King of Horror” has only been writing since 1974. Even harder to believe Carrie was released a mere 2 years after the book, but director Brian De Palma saw its potential. Carrie was always a Stephen King adaptation that intrigued me the most. Since it mixes my love of teen movies with my fascination with horror. Carrie is often regarded as one of the greatest horror movies of all time. My earliest exposure to it was on many scary movie moment lists. So I already knew about the infamous Prom ending. Although if I was around during the 70’s, I would have already known the twist anyway. Since the original trailer made the unwise decision to give it away. Despite being 29 at the time (then again every actor is older then they should be), Sissy Spacek plays the 16 year old Carrie White. A dowdy young lady with telekinesis that no one likes due to her fanatically religious mother. The Psycho theme is used whenever she uses her power. Religious subtext, bullying, and supernatural powers are just some of the many motifs Stephen King would be known for…
Carrie is crowned Prom Queen
Carrie is what happens when you push someone too far. At the very beginning it’s apparent Carrie is unpopular. After a lengthy shower scene, Carrie is horrified to discover she has her first period. Since she’s older and her mother never explained it to her. The girls cruely taunt Carrie, only for gym teacher Miss Collins (Miss Desjardin in the book) to intervene. She’s the only person who consistently shows Carrie kindness. Making her eventual fate all the more shocking. Sue Snell is another person who comes around to Carrie. Despite taking part in the taunting, Sue feels genuinely remorseful. Even asking her popular boyfriend with big 70’s hair to ask Carrie to the Prom. Although Tommy Ross doesn’t seem to like the idea, he warms up to Carrie as well. The only person who truly hates Carrie is Chris Hargensen. A popular mean girl who vows revenge on Carrie after her actions prevent her from attending Prom. With the help of her distractingly John Travolta boyfriend, the two plot to dump pig’s blood on Carrie when she becomes Prom Queen. Sissy Spacek is absolutely perfect as Carrie. Both for her looks and shy demeanor. She was even nominated for Best Actress. Along with Piper Laurie as her mother Margaret White. Despite thinking the movie was a comedy, her performance is both cruel and manipulative. I’m not a fan of religious villains, but I do agree that her treatment of Carrie is just as bad as the bullies at school. In the few fleeting moments when Carrie is happy, the music builds to a tense climax. When the bucket drops, there’s nothing but stunned silence. Filled with nothing but the words of her mother saying “they’re all gonna laugh at you,” and that is of course all she sees. Blinded by rage, Carrie’s eyes widen, the lights go out, and she unleashes her telekinetic power on anyone in her way. It’s easily one of the most well crafted scenes in any horror movie. Since your not sure who to root for. Sue is the only survivor, but not before an unexpected jumpscare. The image of Carrie in her blood soaked Prom dress surrounded by fire will forever remain iconic. It’s what makes Carrie one of the most shocking Stephen King stories ever put to screen.
Followed by: The Rage: Carrie 2
Bend it Like Beckham is sports movie goals. Despite being the most popular sport in the world, I’ve never been a big soccer guy (or football to most countries). For the sake of geographical convenience, I’ll be referring to football as soccer. Bend it Like Beckham refers to famed soccer player David Beckham. Jesminder is an Indian girl with a not so secret love for soccer and a poster of Beckham above her bed. She lives in England where an English girl named Jules finds her playing soccer in the park. Due to her underutilized talent, Jules befriends as well as offers Jess a position on a women’s soccer team. But Bend it Like Beckham isn’t just about soccer. It’s also about culture. Since Jess’ parents have strict beliefs, they don’t allow her to play soccer. Leading to an eventual rift that makes her choose between her Indian heritage and the game that she loves. Speaking of love, things only get more complicated when she falls for her Irish coach (whom Jules also happens to fancy). I don’t mind playing soccer, it’s just the watching that never got me into it. That being said, the movie did at least manage to boost my overall interest of the sport. Bend it Like Beckham is a charming story of love, society, and soccer you’re bound to get a kick out of.
Jess holds up the winning trophy