Sunday, April 30, 2017

Opinion Topic: Indiana Jones 5- An Exciting Announcement or a Worrisome One?

Source: Paramount Pictures
Earlier this month Disney (current owner of Lucasfilm Ltd) announced that the fifth installment in the Indiana Jones series will be released July 10, 2020. This will be the fifth time that our favorite fedora wearing adventurer will be played by Harrison Ford, the only actor who has ever played him on film (referring to the feature films, no disrespect to the under appreciated "Young Indiana Jones" TV series that ran in the 1990's). Indiana Jones has legions of fans and his last film grossed close to $800 million dollars so the idea of another film being made in the series seems automatic. But, after the lackluster fourth film, 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the question I can't help but ask is- should we be excited for Indy 5?

 If you've ever reviewed one of my earliest posts where I listed some of my all time favorite films you will see that the first Indy film, 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark is a top 3 all time great. I equally loved the sequels that followed, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom & 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The fourth film (previously mentioned) was released in 2008 after a 19 year hiatus. During the years in between there were always blurbs in various magazines and later on various websites stating that a primary reason for the delays was dissatisfaction with a good, solid script that would motivate Director Steven Spielberg, Producer George Lucas, and star Harrison Ford to want to bring Indy back into theaters. When the announcement was finally made that a script was written and the project was going in front of the camera, fans worldwide (including myself) were ecstatic. Just the thought of seeing Indy in a new adventure was a dream quickly becoming a reality. Sadly, when the final product was released, those same legions of fans left theaters asking themselves the same question- "you waited all of those years for a great script and this is what you came up with??" I'm sure that there are fans that enjoyed "Crystal Skull" but most die hard Indy fans were disappointed. To be honest, since 2008 I have only seen the movie twice- once when it was released in theaters and one other time when it was released on home video. 

 When word first started circulating that Disney/Lucasfilm wanted to get serious with making another installment in the Indy film series a lot of people speculated that the series would go through a reboot to allow a new, younger actor to take over the role. Considering that Harrison Ford is 74 years of age and the amount of action that is typically infused in an Indiana Jones movie it did not seem too outlandish of an idea. However, following the studios announcement that a new Indy film was on the horizon Director Steven Spielberg confirmed in an interview that he had no intention of recasting Indiana Jones and that Harrison Ford would absolutely be returning to play the role again in the newest installment. Time to don our skepticism caps.

 There is no question that Harrison Ford will ALWAYS be the one and only Indiana Jones. I would never pretend to say that replacing him would be an easy task and to think that another actor would just slip on the leather jacket, fedora hat and bullwhip, and prance around as Indiana Jones is a foolish sentiment. But, I do believe there is a feasible solution to keep things going into the future. The James Bond series was always fortunate in the sense that another actor could slip into the role and just plug along successfully. That would not apply here but a page from Indy's history could be the answer to a future for Indiana Jones.

 In one episode of TV's "The Adventures Of Young Indiana Jones" (Mystery of the Blues-1992) Harrison Ford did make a cameo appearance as the adult version Indiana Jones to provide an introduction into that episodes story. Additionally, the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade began with River Phoenix as a teenage Indiana Jones whose one-off adventure comes to an end years later when he is an adult who runs into the same villain that foiled him in his teenage years. In a similar fashion there could be a story line where Indy, in his later years, reflects on an artifact that eluded his grasp years before. This would allow the backstory to take us back to a younger Indy (played by a younger actor). The story could end in the "present" years where the older Indy finally catches up to the culprit of the story and saves the treasured piece he had lost years before. 

 Obviously my scenario is pretty basic and could be played out in much better detail but the point is there are options that could lend itself to Harrison Ford playing a part in the story without having to be totally dependent on him in the same fashion as Crystal Skull. I feel my greater concern is to see Spielberg and crew give us another chapter that was as underwhelming as the last. Indy is a beloved character and film series whose last film was a letdown after the first three entries. We could be headed to dangerous territory going back for another chapter that gives audiences the same result as the last. 

 The reality is that Disney now owns Lucasfilm of which Indy is a huge part. They certainly would not let the franchise sit idle when they know it could be a prosperous endeavor to keep it going. But in order to keep it going there must come a point where some new blood is injected. What better way to make the transition but than to have the original, and greatest, Indiana Jones bridge the gap. 

 Whatever the decision, we will be there raring to see our hero save the world and preserve history one more time, I just hope that it is done with an ending that will allow a prosperous ending for future generations.
Source: Paramount Pictures

1 comment:

  1. Great piece buddy! Loved your points, and agree with them wholeheartedly. Your idea of how to do it, though not entirely original being that the show already did it once as you say, is still nonetheless the best approach. As far as I'm concerned, there are both positive and negative signs already pointing to this project. One of the obvious negatives is Ford's age, and everybody knows that. Also (and this is a huge no-no for me) the hiring of David Koepp as screenwriter. He has been Spielberg's blockbuster go-to guy for years for reasons I simply can't understand, and his work on Crystal Skull should inspire legit trepidation. That said, on the plus side you have the fact that Disney cannot afford to take over this franchise and start off with a dud. They went out of their way to make Star Wars feel "legitimate," and I don't envision them taking a different approach for this project, particularly with Kathleen Kennedy guiding it. Secondly, I think Spielberg himself is aware of how cold the reaction was to the last film, so I imagine this for his swan song (no reason to believe it won't be) he will try to more directly go in a direction that will more likely appeal to fans. The big question however is this - will the absence of George Lucas in this case be the saving grace or what sinks it?