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Don’t Look At It, Marion! Keep Your Eyes Shut!

January 3rd, 2007

Over the holiday weekend, George Lucas (who, for the sake of my wife, I am required to point out is a hack and a ne’er-do-well) announced that filming of the long-promised Indiana Jones flick will begin soon for a planned 2008 release date. Much rejoicing ensued.

And I can’t understand why.

Don’t misunderstand me: I think a solid case can still be made for Raiders of the Lost Ark as the greatest adventure film ever, even in the wake of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien trilogy. Its breakneck pacing, one-damned-thing-after-another action sequences, snappy dialogue and smart performances were a rare combination.

But Lucas and Steven Spielberg have already had two opportunities for a Raiders follow-up. And while I view Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom more favorably than many, it’s at best a slightly-above-average popcorn flick. The third installment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, is a minor improvement over chapter two, mostly due to the interaction between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. (Emphasis on the “minor.”)

Why does anyone think this third attempt at recapturing the Wrath of God in a bottle will be any better? Spielberg’s action films are hit-and-miss; for every War of the Worlds there’s a The Lost World. Lucas’ sense of storytelling certainly isn’t what it used to be, and his overreliance on technology is detrimental to the “reality” of his characters and settings.

Plus, by the time the film is released, Harrison Ford will be collecting Social Security. And yes, that’s an age bias. Look at how misguided the Star Trek series became when it tried to pretend that Kirk and Co. were as physically fit as ever. We’ve already seen Lucas’ vision of an aging Indiana Jones: in his Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series, Indy reached the end of a lifetime of adventure as a dazed, one-eyed coot hanging around the laundromat, telling stories of his heyday to anyone he could back into a corner.

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t welcome another adventure with Indiana Jones, but rather that I’m not all that excited about this one. I would’ve preferred that the franchise evolve along the lines of Batman Begins or Casino Royale, rebooting the series with a new star and a fresh perspective. Not Indiana Jones IV: Hurry Up and Finish This Damned Thing Already Before Harrison Ford Dies.

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