Yesterday was Indiana Jones Day in my world, so I was in a very frisky mood. I never had to worry about forgetting that May 22nd was the release date for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. At the intersection of Venice and La Cienega, there were seven Indiana Jones billboards to remind me. Every time I drove past them, I thought of Marion Ravenwood’s line in Raiders:
Indiana Jones, somehow I always knew you’d come walking back through my door. I never doubted it. Something made it inevitable. So what are you doing here in Nepal?
To which Indy replied:
I need one of the pieces your father collected.
To which Marion replied with a right hook to the jaw complete with sound effect punch sound.
Like Star Wars, I have a long history with the Indiana Jones films. I’m convinced that my adolescence started when Harrison Ford took off his shirt in the love scene of Raiders. Maybe that’s why I’ve always like the scruffy---it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.
Also like Star Wars, our family had the RCA Laser Disk of Raiders which we watched over and over again, so I have big chunks of the dialogue in my head. Maybe I ought to do a one-woman show of it. Would you pay good money to a see a minimalist one-woman Raiders? I know how to do the famous truck chase scene.
When Temple of Doom came out, I was in junior high. Even though I found Willie too screechy and thought some of the thuggee scenes a little too Gunga Din, I liked me my Indiana Jones. I even liked the body-by-Jake arms.
When Last Crusade came out, I had just graduated from High School and was settling into a do-nothing summer. Oh no, wait, I was a camp counselor that summer. I thought River Phoenix did a spot-on young Indy. I didn’t love the film---there was something in the pacing, I don’t know. It felt like it was trying too hard. I did like Sean Connery who got to play the damsel in distress role.
I was excited and not excited about the new Indy movie. I was excited because Indy was allowed to age 19 years (has it been nineteen years? I’m getting too old for this), so this time Harrison Ford didn’t have to run around like a spritely forty-something. I figured there would be some intelligence around the whole enterprise. However, I was also not excited. Did we really need more Indiana Jones? I loved the whole concept of episodes in a serial, but nowadays, action movies tend to have more of an event feel to them. They are so expensive that they have to be explosively important, and Indy was always kind of casual.
With ticket in hand, I went to a 4:45 screening at the local multiplex. Even though there were some kids in the audience, most people in the crowd were thirty-something or older. The movie started late, but that was okay. I got to read the Screenvision trivia. Did you know that Heidi Klum was once called Pizza Face? I wonder how that sounds in German.
In the first few minutes, Indiana Jones is back in his usual scrapes and adventures. He even survives a nuclear explosion---welcome to the 1950s. Or more specifically 1957. 1957 jumps out in my head because On the Road was published that year, and in London, John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger signaled the rise of the kitchen sink drama.
Indy is definitely an old guy, but he’s never really been young. Still, there was something Beckettesque about the whole thing, and I never expected to describe a Spielberg film as Beckettesque. At one point, Indiana Jones even admits that at his age, you lose more than you get.
Then again, Indy was never the guy who had it all together. He was downright sloppy compared to Han Solo’s tight black pants. Indy sweats, gets hurt, bleeds, but he keeps going because that’s what guys like him do. He must go on, he can’t go on, he’ll go on.
So what did I think of the new movie? I liked it. I still think Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best one of the four. I think sometimes the plotting in the new one got in the way of the fun, but it wasn’t embarrassing. Sometimes, it fell back on Indy mythology---it’s the hat, okay we get it. There was a lot of exposition about what Indy had done in the last twenty years, but the pacing kept things moving at a nice clip. They were wise in bringing back Karen Allen who steals most of the scenes she’s in, and Shia LaBeouf did a great disenfranchised youth.
Just as I was getting into it (about forty-five minutes in), there was a problem with the projection, and we got to watch more Screenvision trivia for about fifteen minutes. Did you know that Harrison Ford’s top ten grossing films all made over 200 million? The theatre did give us all free popcorn, and the film started up again. I ended up leaving the theatre at 7:45---three hours after I got there. Who knew that seeing an Indiana Jones film could be such an adventure?
Final thoughts? We all have people that we go on adventures with. Those adventures don’t necessarily involve a car chase through an Amazon rain forest, but the spirit of it is in all of us. As we get older, we should continue to have our adventures or at the very least spend time with our fellow adventurers. You never know what you’re going to find.