Indiana Jones V-What to do with Ford?

The Man with the hat will be back. But this time, will it work out?

In 2012, in addition to getting the rights to Lucasfilm’s super-popular “Star Wars” series, Disney also acquired to equally iconic, if slightly less popular, Indiana Jones series, which featured four films to date with Harrison Ford as the adventurer/archaeologist with a fear of Snakes. Now, a fifth film is on the way for a July 10 2020 release date (although initial reports around this time last year gave a 2019 release date), with Spielberg back in the director’s chair and Ford once again with the hat and whip.

The original trilogy of films was well-regarded, with “Raiders” at the top. Temple of Doom was somewhat criticized for it’s heavier emphasis on action and chases rather than plot and drama, as well as it’s controversial subject matter and gore, but “Last Crusade” is generally considered near “Raiders” levels of popularity, even if some argue that it was the beginning of the franchise choosing more on slapstick humor and a more toned-down version of Jones.

In 2008, it was felt this kind of reached it’s nadir with “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull”, which brought Ford as Indy back (In a similar fashion to how aging action stars Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Bruce Willis also revived their famous characters around that time). Plus Ford had aged nearly twenty years, and we didn’t get any of the fantastic stunts or sequences from the other movies. While Indy gets a few good fist-fights in, the film’s two main chase sequences-the bicycle chase and the jungle chase-are mainly headlined by Shia Lebouf, with the first chase pretty much being the inverse of Indy’s escape from Castle Bruntwald in Last Crusade, and the jungle chase mostly focusing on Shia’s sword fighting and his monkey-swinging, with Indy not doing too much except driving and switching vehicles a few times. They seemed to be grooming Lebouf to take over the Jones mantle, although stopping short of him putting the hat on at film’s end.

The film also dealt with a few loose ends with Raiders of the Lost Ark, namely the hanger where the Ark was stored (Area 51, in an attempt to tie into the whole “aliens” aspect of the plot) and Indy’s relationship with Marion, which was actually intended to be further developed in the other films but didn’t materialize. Turns out it produced his son Mutt. Indy at the end of the movie makes up for it and marries Marion, so he kind of gets a happy ending after all. But overall, it’s agreed by fans that Indy’s last adventure was a poor entry in the series, not only for it’s humor and light tone but also due to it’s somewhat less mystical theme of Alien skulls and of course, such absurdities as Indy surviving a nuclear blast-lead-lined fridge or not.

It’s often been speculated that a lot of the absurdities could be blamed on George Lucas’s involvement as producer, especially since Lucas has recently finished his Star Wars prequels, which were of course also heavily-maligned by fans of the series; and also that Lucas’s insistence on adding aliens to the story was one of the major stumbling blocks in getting the script ready. With Spielberg still making quality films-although somewhat more dramatic ones than the escapist fare he was more famous for-and Ford not exactly at the height of his career but in still fairly good shape-Lucas was kind of the weakest link here.

I think it’s a bit telling that Harrison’s performance as Han Solo in the Lucasless “The Force Awakens”-a character he nearly really enjoyed as much as Indiana Jones-is much better than his reprisal of Indiana.

So perhaps, Disney, Spielberg and Ford can make up for the bad taste of “Kingdom” with a stronger film, as “Force Awakens” proved (well, to me, at least). There are a few problems though. Han Solo was never as physical as Indiana Jones, and Ford is nearing his 80’s, and will be 78 when the film is set to debut in 2020. Given that he was limited physically in 2008 (At age 66) in Crystal Skull, I can’t see the film-which will be released over a dozen years later-being quite as thrilling. Even with stunt doubles, CGI etc…..a 79 year old doing sometime like this:

Is stretching disbelief quite a bit…. (There’s even a few jokes in “Kingdom” about Indy’s age….”Not as easy as it used to be” “Damn, I thought that was closer” etc.)and then, there’s of course Mutt. The film’s supposed to take place after IJ5, so I wonder if Indy’s new family will be included somehow. If so, would there be a situation like I described earlier with Mutt doing most of the action? Not necessarily played by Shia Lebouf (Lebouf’s been kind of doing his own kind of strange performance art thing lately, and his friendship with Spielberg that led to him getting cast in the first place is pretty much nonexistent now) but I can see a similar problem arising.

Finally, one might ask, why not go younger, recast him in films set before, or around the other films? Well, for one Harrison Ford is largely synonymous with Indiana Jones, and has stuck by the role for nearly forty years. Even for a film series where the lead is replaced fairly early on-such as Bond-there’s still people who see Connery as the one true, James Bond despite him being only really about 9 years in the 55-year, 25 film, 6-actor series.

And technically, it’s been done.

While the River Phoenix prologue to Last Crusade was essential to that film’s plot, the Young Indiana Jones series that followed-although it had it’s good points-was largely a ratings failure (Although it did get a bit of a reference in Crystal Skull). So there might be a bit of some reluctance to continue without Ford.

Although, there were rumors that Chris Pratt-star of Jurassic World and Guardians of the Galaxy-would fit well in a recasting. He’s kind of got the look and snark of a young Ford.

So we’ll see what happens with this film. It’s still in the early stages, and might even get pushed back further (Which is also an issue for Ford, probably.)

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The Indiana Jones/James Bond connection

In 1977, George Lucas was on vacation in Hawaii with his friend, Steven Spielberg. Lucas had just come off the massive (and for him, unanticipated) success of Star Wars, while Spielberg was putting the finishing touches on his own iconic sci-fi film, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Spielberg shared that he was considering directing a James Bond film (The tenth film, Roger Moore’s The Spy Who Loved Me, opened later that Summer as well). However, Lucas had another idea in mind.

Spielberg, Lucas, Ford and Capshaw on the set of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Spielberg would later marry Capshaw in 1991.

Drawing from the same pulp roots of Star Wars, Indiana Jones of course became a four (and soon, fifth) film series featuring the adventures of a tenured archaeologist who searches for rare artifacts-sometimes with supernatural elements. While this might seem quite different from a British government agent, there’s still a lot of Bond in Indy’s DNA-including an actual Bond.

Both “Raiders” and “Temple” start with an adventure in progress, only partially related to the current adventure (Crusade has a flashback, and Indy 4’s opening sequence is related to the plot of the whole film)-something the Bond films likewise do with their ‘teasers’, some of which have something to do with the rest of the movie , some that don’t (Like for instance the Aerostar jet sequence from Octopussy,) or some in the middle. In “Raiders” we see this with Indy searching for a Hovito idol, which he is forced to surrender to rival Belloq. Although, in both cases, while Bond usually completes the mission in the teaser with success (with a few exceptions), Indy badly bungles in both cases, forced to make a run for it from the Hovitos, and in “Doom’s” case, he unwittingly is poisoned and escapes onboard a cargo plane owned by the bad guy. Oops.

In addition, Indy’s white tuxedo suit at the beginning of “Temple of Doom” is nearly identical to Sean Connery’s Bond in the opening sequence of Goldfinger.

  

Daniel Craig would later wear a similar suit in SPECTRE.

As for similarities in the plots, both film series of course utilize a lot of exotic locations, although those set in Indiana Jones hark back to the 30’s (and in Crystal Skull, the 50s), where Bond is always present day. It’s worth noting in the first Indiana Jones film, that like Bond, Indy is given an assignment by the government to recover the Ark, so in a sense, he’s their agent.

There’s also a different female love interest in every movie, with the exception of “Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” which brought back Marion. Willie, from Temple Of Doom, wasn’t exactly popular with fans; likewise, Elsa from Last Crusade turned out to be a villain and died. So naturally, Indy once again returned to Marion (With whom he found out he had a son, “Mutt” Williams, AKA Henry Jones III).

Bond did get married too, but his ended in tragedy (as did that of his CIA friend Felix Leiter) as his wife was shot and killed by SPECTRE in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” . Although Marion’s role is yet to be determined in the fifth film, I don’t think they’ll go that dark route.

Then of course, we’ve got the big one-Sean Connery was cast as Indiana Jones’s father Henry Jones (Indiana’s real name is actually Henry Jones Jr.) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, a sort of nod by Spielberg and Lucas to their original conversation (Also, Spielberg wanted to direct Connery in his hypothetical Bond film). Although Henry is quite different from Bond in pretty much every way, there’s a bit of a hint of his prowess with women.

Game retrospective-The Uncharted series-the Basics (Some spoilers).

The Uncharted series has been one of gaming’s many milestones for the past decade. The exclusive to Sony Playstation (and developed by “Last of Us” developers Naughty Dog) series follows the adventures of treasure hunter Nathan Drake. Like the “Indiana Jones” series, the focus is on Nathan’s adventures seeking lost treasure, but also-on occasion- discovering the supernatural forces and secrets behind that treasure. There are also ancient puzzles to unlock, and several booby traps to either avoid, or run from. However, unlike Jones, there’s a few differences-Nathan’s not exactly a tenured Doctor of Archaeology, so his adventures are a slight more ‘grey’ on the moral scale (He’s more of a sort of ‘robin hood’ type from a moral standpoint). The games-although dealing with ancient treasures-are not set in the 1930s, like Indiana Jones, but in the modern day. Drake also has a lot of witty one-liners, some of which are groaners.

Nathan Drake in Uncharted 1.

Drake in Uncharted 4.

Nate’s frequent partner on his exploits is Victor “Sully” Sullivan, an ex-navy pilot. Victor was Nate’s main mentor and friend, and also a father figure of sorts, since Nate’s mother had died and his father left him and his brother in an orphanage. Nate’s had to bail Sully out of a few bad deals here and there, and also Sully’s middle age makes him sometimes a bit too old for his friend’s adventuring, especially when things get a bit too dangerous (For instance, he sits a large part of the second game out, and is sometimes bothered by Nate’s recklessness in Uncharted 3 and 4).

Sully

Elena

Elena Fisher is a reporter and very capable adventurer herself, who initially intends to cover Nate’s adventures her her program, but eventually gets caught up in his adventures herself. She ultimately becomes his romantic interest and in the last two games, wife, although there’s some bumps in that relationship due to Nate’s somewhat reckless nature and trying to keep her out of danger.

Chloe

There’s also a second romantic interest in Uncharted 2, the somewhat more uninhibited, mercenary and ruthless Chloe Frazier. By the end of that game though, she accepts Nate has more feelings for Elena. Chloe also appears in 3 to help out a bit.

Although the game’s stories largely follow an linear structure (no multiple endings), and the lack of an ‘open world’ environment might seem dated to today’s gamers; (as well as there being ‘quicktime events’-in which one must push buttons in a certain order and amount of time to have the scene progress) there is a great deal of variety in the gameplay: one has to carefully take cover, choose which weapons to use or take from the bad guys, use melee etc. Stealth also can be used in the later games (although not as sophisticated as in say, Last of Us or Metal Gear).

Jumping and climbing is also important-not only for rocks:

But also in the high speed chases where Drake often needs to jump from one vehicle to another really quickly.

Drake is also given a grappling rope in the fourth game, which comes in handy during situations like this:

The puzzles are of course, very important. Although some are complex, Drake/the player is often able to complete them using clues collected during his adventures, and jotted down in his journal.

The journal is also fun to look at just for some scribbling and memento’s Drake has put in there.

The series spans four ‘main’ games. Three on the PS3, and one on the PS4-Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Uncharted 4: A Thieve’s End. There’s also one PSP spin off title, Golden Abyss, and a few novels and comics. All three of the first few games were also remastered and released on PS4 shortly before 4’s debut.

Comics cover

The games have often been praised for their life-life graphics and attention to detail. They utilize the motion capture and voice talents of Nolan North (as Drake) Richard McConagale (As Sully) Emily Rose (As Elena) and Claudia Black (As Chloe) in addition to others.