Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Paramount, 1981) D: Steven Spielberg, w/ Harrison Ford, Karen Allen. Rating: NNNNN; DVD package: NNN
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (Paramount, 1984) D: Spielberg, w/ Ford, Kate Capshaw. Rating: NN; DVD package: NNN
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (Paramount, 1989) D: Spielberg, w/ Ford, Sean Connery. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
There’s no reason to run right out and buy these if you’ve already got the 2003 box set with over two hours of extras. The new material here delivers no startling revelations and omits discussion of some major aspects of the movies, notably the stunt work.
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s introductions work very well. In mini-making-of docs, they focus more on conception than production and offer clear insights into inspiration and practicalities. However, the pair’s discussion of the alleged darkness of Temple Of Doom is downright laughable.
Darkness isn’t what gives Temple Of Doom such a queasy aftertaste. It’s the film’s desperate desire to be liked, evident in giving archaeologist-adventurer Jones not one, but two comic sidekicks (Ke Huy Quan and Kate Capshaw) and then repeatedly wrecking the pace to insert shots of them cheering him on. It’s plain in Capshaw’s incessant screaming, as though noise equaled energy. The hard-sell grovelling reaches its peak in the wrap-up that has the rescued villagers fawning all over Indy.
Spielberg has staged similar scenes elsewhere: the onlookers weeping at the close of E.T. and the survivors making Schindler an honourary Jew at the end of Schindler’s List. It’s the emotional overkill of a filmmaker who doesn’t trust his material, his audience and, maybe, himself.
In contrast, Raiders remains one of the most highly rewatchable and nearly perfect movies ever to come out of Hollywood. It didn’t launch the golden age of action movies (I’d nominate 1979’s Mad Max for that distinction), but it sure set the gold standard for a string of terrific thrillers that lasted until 1991’s Terminator 2 ushered in the golden age of bloated bullshit.
EXTRAS Raiders: Lucas/Spielberg introduction, series appreciation, melting face effect doc, more. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles. Temple Of Doom: Lucas/Spielberg introduction, bugs and locations docs, more. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles. The Last Crusade: Lucas/Spielberg introduction, Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw, Alison Doody reminisce, supporting players doc, more. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.