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Teh Infamous Rolling Ball

Indy, Marion, and the Snakes

He Brought a Sword to a Gun Fight

Opening the Arc
Raiders of the Lost Arc

Paramount Pictures Theatrical release June 12, 1981 115 minutes

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Written by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman

Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan

Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Paul Freeman as Belloq, Ron Lacey as Toht, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Denholm Elliott as Brody, Alfred Molina as Satipo, and Wolf Kahler as Dietrich.

Indiana Jones enters a cave where the Golden Idol of Fertility sits on a pedestal, glowing in what should have been absolute darkness. The floor is booby trapped, as are the walls. When he reaches the idol, he replaces it with a bag of sand. Oops . . .

Running for his life, avoiding poison arrows and falling debris, in a now-classic scene, he looks up to see an enormous rock ball rolling toward him. After escaping the rock, the idol is stolen, and he must again run for his life.

In what will become typical of Indiana Jones movies. This is just the opening teaser. Now the story begins.

Back at the university, Indy is asked to help find the Ark of the Covenant, where Moses hid the tablets containing the original Ten Commandments.

Although the story of the Ark is somewhat consistent in religious writings., it is not well supported by archeological evidence. But it makes for a great movie.

Finding the location of the Ark is not straightforward. In fact, it is ridiculously convoluted. There is an underground room with a model of the city. If a medallion is placed on the top of a staff, and the staff is placed in one of the numerous indentations, when the sun shines through the jewel in the medallion, a shaft of light points to the location of the Ark.

Although it works fine in the movie, the concept is implausible. Even if the staff is the exact length, the medallion must be at precisely the correct angle, at exactly the right time of day and day of year, for the sun to shine through the roof at the correct angle. Why would anyone set this up?

Then there is the room full of snakes. As a wildlife biologist, I do know that some snakes share overwintering dens. But thousands of snakes of different species just hanging out together, crawling through holes in the wall, and so forth doesn't make much sense.

Apparently, the majority of those snakes were glass snakes, a kind of legless lizard.

Indy was pretty beat up when he swam to the sub. He spends an unknown number of days in the sun with nothing to eat or drink. After which, he is ready to fight and have another adventure. It makes him one tough guy.

Last, how did Indy know that closing his eyes would protect him from the destruction caused by opening the Ark? The special effects are great.

Even though many parts of this movie are unbelievable, it doesnÍt matter. The movie is fast-paced and exciting. Harrison Ford is the perfect Indiana Jones. And Karen Allen is excellent as Marion Ravenwood. Although she is the preverbal damsel in distress, having an adventure in a dress and heals, the character is strong and holds her own against the bad guys.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 4, 2023.

The Temple of Kali

Indy in the Bridge

Short Round and Willie

The Evil Priest
Temple of Doom

Written by George Lucas, Willard Huyck, and Gloria Katz

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Theatrical release Paramount Pictures May 23, 1984, 118 minutes

Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott, Ke Huy Quan as Short Round, Amrish Puri as Mola Ram, Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal (as Rushan Seth), Philip Stone as Captain Blumburtt, Roy Chiao as Lao Che, David Yip as Wu Han, Ric Young as Kao Kan, and Chua Kah Joo as Chen,

In a crowded club named Obi Wan, Indy attempts to give the remains of Emperor Nurhachi to Lao Che in exchange for a large diamond.

First, he is introduced to Willie Scott, a singer, and then poisoned. Shootings and fights send everyone into a frenzy. Both the vial of antidote and the diamond are kicked around. While Indy goes after the antidote, Willie scrambles after the diamond.

After an exciting and somewhat fantastical exit, Willie and Indy, assisted by a kid named Short Round, hop on a plane to make their getaway. Except the plane is owned by Lao Che. Just before the plane crashes, they escape on a life raft.

Now, the story begins.

Indy, Willie, and Short Round land in a village in India where a sacred stone has been stolen along with all the children.

The Villagers lend them elephants and send them off in search of the sacred stone. They find a maze of underground caverns and human sacrifices to Kali.

This movie is famous for the ore car chase through somewhat endless and convoluted mine tunnels and the suspension bridge collapsing over a river full of hungry crocodiles.

While Marion Ravenwood in Raiders of the Lost Arc, may have been captured and needed to be rescued, she was never a typical damsel in distress. Willie Scott is not as self-sufficient or independent. There was a real tension between Marion and Indy. That is missing between Willie and Indy. Although Willie is well-played and fits the movie perfectly, I prefer Marion's chutzpah

In typical Indiana Jones fashion, the underground temple is somewhat ridiculous. There are two flat areas divided by a chasm where lava bubbles several stories below. In reality, that would make the chamber so hot and full of poisonous gasses that no one could survive. However, it looks great and adds tension to the movie.

The ore car chase is amazing. Back in 1984, it all seemed so real, but special effects have improved, and it is easy to spot the stop action. But it still works. The Temple of Doom is an action packed adventure film. Although in the light of day, the entire thing is ridiculous. But once the lights go down, disbelief goes away, and the film sweeps you into the exciting world of Indiana Jones.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 10, 2023.

Indy as Teenager

Taking Dad For a Ride

Flooded Catacombs

Saving Dad
The Last Crusade

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by: Jeffrey Boam

Story by George Lucas and Menno Meyjes

US Released May 24, 1989

Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm 127 minutes

Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones, Denholm Elliott as Marcus Brody, Alison Doody as Elsa, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Julian Glover as Walter Donovan, River Phoenix as Young Indy, Michael Byrne as Vogel, Kevork Malikyan as Kazim, Robert Eddison as Grail Knight, Richard Young as Fedora, Alexei Sayle as Sultan, Alex Hyde-White as Young Henry, and Jerry Harte as Professor Stanton.

This movie starts with Indy as a teenage boy scout. He attempts to retrieve the Cross of Coronado from treasure hunters. There is a chase scene on a moving train, and, having finally gotten safely home, the cross is taken from him. His father is less than understanding.

This opening explains Indy's fear of snakes, his tendency to wear fedoras, and the scar on his chin. Which is actually the result of a car accident. Now for the story

Indy discovers his father went searching for the holy grail and is now missing.

Unlike the first two movies, The Last Crusade, a damsel in distress doesn't tag along with Indy. He pairs up with Elsa Schneider for a while. But she doesn't need Indy's help, and the relationship is less than mutually beneficial.

There are lots of Nazi bad guys also looking for the holy grail, the secret to everlasting life.

The signature chase scene in this movie features a caravan of tanks and trucks and a fight on top of a moving tank. All ridiculously impossible in the light of day but wonderfully believable during the film.

Although Nazis make wonderful bad guys, it is hard to believe they would expend so many resources on things like the holy grail and the Arc of the Covenant. In 1938 Hitler was busy annexing Austria and other parts of Europe, getting ready to fight the world. But it makes for a good story.

The Last Crusade has plenty of action and excitement. It also has more character development than the previous movies. And Henry Jones Sr. is wonderfully played by Sean Connery.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 17, 2023.

That Isn't Far Enough Away

Mutt, Oxley, Marion, Indy, and the Skull

The Car Chase

Dr. Irina Spalko
Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Screenplay by David Koepp

Story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson

US release May, 20, 2008 122 minutes

Paramount Pictures, Lucasfilm

Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Cate Blanchett as Irina Spalko, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams, Ray Winstone as 'Mac' George Michale, John Hurt as Professor Oxley, Jim Broadbent as Dean Charles Stanforth, Igor Zhizhikin as Dovchenko, Alan Dale as General Ross, Joel Stoffer as Taylor, Neil Flynn as Smith, Vincent Foster as Minister, and Nicole Luther as Diner Waitress.

Indy and Mac McHale are taken to Warehouse 51 by Russians disguised as American military. They are looking for something that is highly magnetic. Indy finds the crate and then escapes causing significant damage to the warehouse. He falls into an underground bunker where there is a rocket sled. He rides the sled until it stops, escapes the Russian again, and wanders through the desert to a town with mannequins instead of people.

Just before an A-Bomb goes off, he hides in a refrigerator, which gets tossed out of the blast zone.

As opening teasers go, this one is a bit over the top. Although is does have more to do with the plot than the previous teasers.

After being questioned by the FBI, Indy returns to the university, resigns, and takes a train to New York. On the train, Mutt Williams (Henry Walton Jones III) gives him a letter with clues to a Nazca crystal skull.

It isn't long before he is captured by the same Russians and reunited with Marion Ravenwood. He learns that Marion is Mutt's mother, and he is the father.

The Russians force Indy to stare into the skull. After which he becomes obsessed with returning it.

Like the rest of the Indiana Jones films, this one has a unique chase scene somewhat reminiscent of the speeder chase on Endor.

Here the vehicles go side by side, sometimes separated by a line of trees. They're also running close to a vertical drop. The skull gets tossed back and forth, and people jump from car to car, hang from vines, and have sword fights and fistfights. There are even swarms of killer ants.

Then, just to keep things exciting, they raft over waterfalls.

All this is rather unbelievable, but it's lots of fun.

When the skull is finally returned, the most miraculous things happen. The first ending of the movie was totally unexpected. Although extremely hard to believe, it is fantastical but beautifully photographed.

The second ending also brought a smile to my face.

It was great to see Marion again. She and Indy have a unique chemistry. Also, to see how Indy's interactions with Mutt change when he learns the boy is his son.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 23, 2023.

Indiana and Helena

Indiana and Teddy


Dr. Voller
The Dial of Destiny

Directed by James Mangold

Written by Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp, and James Mangold.

Based on characters by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman

Original release June 14, 2023

Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm, Paramount Pictures, 154 minutes.

Starring: Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena, Antonio Banderas as Renaldo, Karen Allen as Marion, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, Shaunette Rene Wilson as Mason, Thomas Kretschmann as Colonel Weber, Toby Jones as Basil Shaw, Boyd Holbrook as Klaber, Olivier Richters as Hauke, Ethann Isidore as Teddy, Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Voller, Martin McDougall as Durkin, Alaa Safi as Rahim, and Nasser Memarzia as Archimedes.

In 1944, Indiana and Oxford archaeologist Basil Shaw try to retrieve plundered treasure from the Nazis. They discover part of Archimedes' Dial of Destiny, a device that can point to fissures in time. Then they get captured.

After a long and exciting escape, the story returns to Indy's present, 1969. Helena, Basil Shaw's daughter, Indy's goddaughter, visits him. She thinks she knows how to find the other half of the Dial of Destiny. But as Indy learns, she isn't quite as honest as he would like.

She also has a teenage sidekick named Teddy.

Indy, Helena, and Teddy travel the world looking for clues to the whereabouts of the other half of the dial. Of course, each new location has a new chase scene or capture and escape involving trains, three-wheeled carts, planes, motorcycles, and horses, among other things.

As exciting and well-done as this movie is, it is a bit overly long. That was made worse because I had to sit through over thirty minutes of ads for services for products I would never buy and trailers for movies that convinced me I didn't want to watch them.

Indy's companions, Helena and Teddy, work pretty well. But they can't compete with Marion and Short Round from previous movies.

Helena's decision to sell the dial didn't quite ring true. With Indy and the ex-Nazi Vollar after her, she should have realized she would never get away with it.

Recent pictures of Harrison Ford show him looking very much like Indy in 1969. The makeup to make him look twenty-five years younger in 1944 was quite good.

It was nice to see John Rhys-Davies as Sallah again.

It was wonderful to see Karen Allen as Marion again. It was also nice that she hadn't been made up to look twenty-five. Hollywood so often expects women to always look young even though men are permitted to look their age.

The movie has a rather unexpected ending, both in where the dial takes them and what happens afterward.

This may not be the best Indiana Jones movie ever made, but it is well worth watching. Especially as it will probably be the last, given Harrison Ford's age.

Reviewed by Romana Drew August 5, 2023.