Saturday, May 17, 2008

Whip It: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

An essential summer blockbuster that is wittier, more realistic, and better made than even Star Wars. Harrison Ford is amazing in the title role as the whip-carrying, gunslinging tough cookie who is actually quite vulnerable at times, showing up James Bond even, and creating one of America's most beloved action heroes. Karen Allen plays good heroine, as Marion Ravenwood, apparently Jones' ex-girlfriend, who joins him again on his quest. There is such an obvious difference between Allen and Kate Capshaw, the leading lady in the Temple of Doom, it is unbelievable. She is the lead actress in a summer movie possibly ever. She shows up such actresses as Megan Fox (of the abysmal Transformers) or Katie Holmes (of the freakish Batman Begins), or even the second-best of her kind Kirsten Dunst (of the Spider-Man movies). Anyways, the plot is great: there is a covenant agreement platform that was made during the Ten Commandment/Moses age, and all sides want to get it. Even the ruthless Nazis (this movie does take place in 1936) are after it like sharks on blood. The way to get it: simple. Find the medallion and the staff of Ra, and bring them both to an underground bunker, and let the sun shine through the medallion at a precise time and date, and it will show you the place of the covenant platform. Hard part: pulling it off. And Indiana Jones is the only one who can. I won't spoil the great climax or ending, but I will tell you that this is a great film and one of Spielberg's best. This movie solidifies that Spielberg is the master of the summer movie blockbuster (he created the genre with Jaws, a masterpiece). But it also solidifies a change in moviemaking. Before, the FX industry was ruled by the James Bond and Star Wars films. But now, after this particularly great blend of FX, writing, and acting, Indiana rules the ways with his whip and his gun. This movie was not afraid to take risks and it paid off in cold, hard cash at the box office. Thanks to an immensely gratifying opening sequence and many chase sequences, plus a humorous encounter (gun vs. sword), this movie takes its place among the homaged movies, showing that it takes more than a couple of explosions to rule. This is the way that summer movies should be. A

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