|Indiana Jones – The Complete Adventures (2012) USA|
It’s said that the original is the greatest, and there can be no more vivid proof than "Raiders of the Lost Ark", the first and indisputably best of the initial three "Indiana Jones" adventures cooked up by the dream team of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Expectations were high for this 1981 collaboration between the two men, who essentially invented the box office blockbuster with ‘70s efforts like "Jaws" and "Star Wars", and Spielberg (who directed) and Lucas (who co-wrote the story and executive produced) didn’t disappoint. This wildly entertaining film has it all: non-stop action, exotic locations, grand spectacle, a hero for the ages, despicable villains, a beautiful love interest, humour, horror… not to mention lots of snakes. And along with all the bits that are so familiar by now--Indy (Harrison Ford) running from the giant boulder in a cave, using his pistol instead of his trusty whip to take out a scimitar-wielding bad guy, facing off with a hissing cobra, and on and on--there’s real resonance in a potent storyline that brings together a profound religious-archaeological icon (the Ark of the Covenant, nothing less than "a radio for speaking to God") and the 20th century’s most infamous criminals (the Nazis). Now that’s entertainment. --"Sam Graham"
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
It’s hard to imagine that a film with worldwide box office receipts topping US$300 million worldwide could be labeled a disappointment, but some moviegoers considered "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", the second installment in Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ 1980s adventure trilogy, to be just that. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad effort; any collaboration between these two cinema giants (Spielberg directed, while Lucas provided the story and was executive producer) is bound to have more than its share of terrific moments, and "Temple of Doom" is no exception. But in exchanging the very real threat of Nazi Germany for the cartoonish Thuggee cult, it loses some of the heft of its predecessor ("Raiders of the Lost Ark"); on the other hand, it’s also the darkest and most disturbing of the three films, what with multiple scenes of children enslaved, a heart pulled out of a man’s chest, and the immolation of a sacrificial victim, which makes it less fun than either "Raiders" or "The Last Crusade", notwithstanding a couple of riotous chase scenes and impressively grand sets. Many fans were also less than thrilled with the new love interest, a spoiled, querulous nightclub singer portrayed by Kate Capshaw, but a cute kid sidekick ("Short Round," played by Ke Huy Quan) and, of course, the ever-reliable Harrison Ford as the cynical-but-swashbuckling hero more than make up for that character’s shortcomings. --"Sam Graham"
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
The third episode in Steven Spielberg's rousing "Indiana Jones" saga, this film recaptures the best elements of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" while exploring new territory with wonderfully satisfying results. Indy is back battling the Nazis, who have launched an expedition to uncover the whereabouts of the Holy Grail. And it's not just Indy this time--his father (played with great acerbic wit by Sean Connery, the perfect choice) is also involved in the hunt. Spielberg excels at the kind of extended action sequences that top themselves with virtually every frame; the best one here involves Indy trying to stop a Nazi tank from the outside while his father is being held within. For good measure, Spielberg reveals (among other things) how Indy got his hat, the scar on his chin, and his nickname (in a prologue that features River Phoenix as the young Indiana). --"Marshall Fine"
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Nearly 20 years after riding his last "Crusade", Harrison Ford makes a welcome return as archaeologist/relic hunter Indiana Jones in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", an action-packed fourth installment that's, in a nutshell, less memorable than the first three but great nostalgia for fans of the series. Producer George Lucas and screenwriter David Koepp ("War of the Worlds") set the film during the cold war, as the Soviets--replacing Nazis as Indy's villains of choice and led by a sword-wielding Cate Blanchett with black bob and sunglasses--are in pursuit of a crystal skull, which has mystical powers related to a city of gold. After escaping from them in a spectacular opening action sequence, Indy is coerced to head to Peru at the behest of a young greaser (Shia LaBeouf) whose friend--and Indy's colleague--Professor Oxley (John Hurt) has been captured for his knowledge of the skull's whereabouts. Whatever secrets the skull holds are tertiary; its reveal is the weakest part of the movie, as the CGI effects that inevitably accompany it feel jarring next to the boulder-rolling world of Indy audiences knew and loved. There's plenty of comedy, delightful stunts--ants play a deadly role here--and the return of "Raiders" love interest Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, once shrill but now softened, giving her ex-love bemused glances and eye-rolls as he huffs his way to save the day. Which brings us to Ford: bullwhip still in hand, he's a little creakier, a lot grayer, but still twice the action hero of anyone in film today. With all the anticipation and hype leading up to the film's release, perhaps no reunion is sweeter than that of Ford with the role that fits him as snugly as that fedora hat. --"Ellen A. Kim"