Friday, April 29, 2011

Doo Dah Doo Doo, Doo Dah Doo

Next up in the reviews, a bit of a well known series. Created by two of the biggest names in movies as an homage to the adventure serials of the 1930’s (and designed by comic artist Jim Steranko), Henry Walton Jones Jr. (known best by the nickname “Indiana”) first appearing in 1981, subsequently showing up in 3 more films, a television series, 3 video games, several books and a series of theme park attractions. They are films that I (most recent aside) haven’t seen in over 15 years.

I, of course, will only be reviewing the movies, starting with Raiders Of The Lost Ark. I remember loving the holy crap out of the first two, so let’s see how they hold up, shall we?

Set in 1936, Raiders pits Dr Jones (at the behest of the US government) against a troupe of Nazis, lead by the mustache twirllingly evil Major Toht and Indy’s rival archaeologist Belloq, who are hunting for the mythical Ark of the Covenant. Travelling across the globe, Indy is joined by Marion Ravenwood (the daughter of his mentor) in Nepal and his friend Sallah in Egypt; eventually racing against the Nazis to find the location of the Well of Souls (where the Arc is said to be kept).

There are so many now iconic images introduced in this film that have since become, basically, film lore; that I don’t think I really need to mention them in all that great a detail. In addition to Indy himself (a character who has become one of the most recognisable on the planet), you have the introduction scene in the South American temple – itself, one of the most well known scenes in all filmdom; the scene in which the Arc is opened and the final scene of the film – all of which have been parodied and referenced in countless films and TV shows since; alongside many other well known scenes and images, plus, one of the most iconic scores ever put to tape (seriously, just start whistling it near any film fan and I guarantee that you will have instant accompaniment – plus, tell me that hearing it doesn’t make you want to put on a fedora, grab a whip and get adventuring).

One thing that I noticed, especially while watching the first three films (and it’s somewhat similar to what I noticed during my time watching the Back To The Future films) is, these are definite products of their time. A time where pretty much EVERYTHING was done practically (yes, there is a little bit of bluescreen and model work, but most times – what you see on screen is what was shot on the day), which just helps to add to their awesomeness. There is almost no chance that you’d get these films these days, what with all that new fangled CGI and stuff, and that is a real shame – sure, the CGI can look awesome when done right, but you get a much different feeling seeing that compared to people interacting with an actual awesome set.

All in all, Raiders of The Lost Ark is a film that, while dragging a little bit more than I remember it as a kid, does hold up really well. With good reason, it’s a damn fun adventure.

Tomorrow – The Temple of Doom.

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