Film: The Adventures of Indiana Jones series

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Film:

The Adventures of Indiana Jones series

Director: Steven Spielberg
Genres:
Distributor: Paramount

As with Star Wars, the George Lucas-produced Indiana Jones trilogy was not just a plaything for kids but an act of nostalgic affection toward a lost phenomenon: the cliffhanging movie serials of the past. Episodic in structure and with fate hanging in the balance about every 10 minutes, the Jones features tapped into Lucas’s extremely profitable Star Wars formula of modernizing the look and feel of an old, but popular, story model. Steven Spielberg directed all three films, which are set in the late 1930s and early ‘40s: the comic…

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As with Star Wars, the George Lucas-produced Indiana Jones trilogy was not just a plaything for kids but an act of nostalgic affection toward a lost phenomenon: the cliffhanging movie serials of the past. Episodic in structure and with fate hanging in the balance about every 10 minutes, the Jones features tapped into Lucas’s extremely profitable Star Wars formula of modernizing the look and feel of an old, but popular, story model. Steven Spielberg directed all three films, which are set in the late 1930s and early ‘40s: the comic book-like Raiders of the Lost Ark, the spooky, Gunga Din-inspired Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the cautious but entertaining Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Fans and critics disagree over the order of preference, some even finding the middle movie nearly repugnant in its violence. (Pro-Temple of Doom people, on the other hand, believe that film to be the most disarmingly creative and emotionally effective of the trio.) One thing’s for sure: Harrison Ford’s swaggering, two-fisted, self-effacing performance worked like a charm, and the art of cracking bullwhips was probably never quite the iconic activity it soon became after Raiders. Supporting players and costars were very much a part of the series, too—Karen Allen, Sean Connery (as Indie’s dad), Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Denholm Elliot, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies among them. Years have passed since the last film (another is supposedly in the works), but emerging film buffs can have the same fun their predecessors did picking out numerous references to Hollywood classics and B-movies of the past. —Tom Keogh

Series Titles

Film:Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark: 1st in Indiana Jones series

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s 1981 resurrection of the Saturday-matinee adventure genre was deservedly popular, and kicked off a successful trilogy. Set in 1936, this first feature introduces Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, an archaeologist and adventurer whose quests for rare antiquities frequently find him running from one menace or another. Raiders finds Dr. Jones in the middle of a Nazi plot to use the mysterious powers of the Ark of the Covenant to win the war. Karen Allen plays the love interest with an old-fashioned “man’s woman” appeal (she…

Film:Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: 2nd in Indiana Jones series

Steven Spielberg

The Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) adventure after Raiders of the Lost Ark is more violent than its predecessor, but also looser, more imaginative, and finally more satisfying. Still organized like a series of connected cliffhangers, the story (set 10 years before Raiders) involves Indy’s attempted rescue of stolen children from a pagan cult. Director Steven Spielberg draws upon sundry cinematic influences, particularly Gunga Din, for an air of classic adventure, though one can also find traces of John Wayne movies in Jones’s relationship with…

Film:Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: 3rd in Indiana Jones series

Steven Spielberg

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;…

Film:Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: 4th in Indiana Jones series

Steven Spielberg

This latest adventure begins in the Southwest desert in 1957—the height of the Cold War. Indy (Harrison Ford) and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) have barely escaped a close scrape with nefarious Soviet agents on a remote airfield.

Now, Professor Jones has returned home to Marshall College, only to find things have gone from bad to worse. His close friend and dean of the college explains that Indy’s recent activities have made him the object of suspicion, and that the government has put pressure on the university to fire him. On his way out of town, Indiana meets rebellious young Mutt (Shia LeBeouf), who carries both a grudge and a proposition for the adventurous archaeologist—if he’ll help Mutt on a mission with deeply personal stakes, Indy could very well make one of the most spectacular archaeological finds in history—the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination, superstition, and fear. …[more]

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