On Set With Raiders of the Lost Ark - Witness the making of Raiders as it happened with newly revealed footage that puts you on the set during production, alongside filmmakers, cast and crew
Film Foursome: The "Making Of" All 4 Indiana Jones Films - Join filmmakers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for an up-close look at each production, and the evolution of the original action hero, Indiana Jones
Cast & Creator Interviews
Behind-the-Scenes Peeks: Stunts, Sounds, Special Effects
Bigger, busier, louder, and far less satisfying than Raiders of the Lost Ark, this first sequel (or, chronologically speaking, prequel) starts with a bang but then indulges in some serious miscalculations. After saddling Harrison Ford with a whiny love interest (Kate Capshaw) and a cloying young sidekick, the film then plunges them all into a grim, subterranean adventure with few of the globe-trotting thrills of the original. The movie, somewhat understandably, stirred controversy at the time of its release for its violence, gross-out gags, and general darkness. While the furor was exaggerated, all those grim deaths and enslaved children do kind of put a damper on the fun. Even so, a Spielberg-directed adventure can only plunge so far, and the director delivers the goods in numerous set pieces, though the series itself did not recover until 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. ~ Keith Phipps, Rovi Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, while perhaps lacking the impact of the original, is an invaluable addition to the acclaimed series. Steven Spielberg, seemingly aware of the mistakes made in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, utilized the formula of the first movie without making a duplicate by providing the audience with a pseudo-historical backdrop, offering a comedic and quite understandable explanation for the elder Indiana's fear of snakes, and the origins of his famous whip and hat. The late River Phoenix, looking every inch the young Indy, provides The Last Crusade with an exciting prologue, showcasing his then unsuccessful attempt across unsafe terrain and reptile-laden circus boxcars to wrestle a precious historical artifact away from those who wanted it for all the wrong reasons. Mixing a return to form with archaeological thrills, outrageous stunts, and deadpan comedy, The Last Crusade has all the charm of the first two films combined. ~ Tracie Cooper, Rovi An homage to the glory days of Saturday matinee adventure serials and back-lot B-movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most unabashedly enjoyable cinematic events of the 1980s. Packed with breakneck action, a cheerfully absurd plot involving Nazis and lost treasure, exotic locales, and a bit of romance, Raiders celebrated old-school adventure and made it palatable to an increasingly jaded contemporary audience. One of the most ingenious and stylish action films ever made, it became an almost instant classic, turning otherwise stodgy film critics into gleeful children and pulling in millions of dollars from filmgoers who found it the most thrilling theatrical event since Star Wars four years earlier. That Raiders spawned three sequels, a slew of inferior imitations, and settled into the cultural lexicon is a testament to both its initial impact and enduring appeal, as well as the outwardly contradictory notion that originality can spring from a tried-and-true formula. ~ Rebecca Flint Marx, Rovi It's not easy for one of the most beloved film series of its time to return after a 19-year absence, though Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull manages to do a serviceable job of recapturing what audiences have come to equate with their favorite fearless archeologist. Indeed, Harrison Ford is back again, this time a tad wiser and a lot more grey, yet still packing that familiar quick wit, trusty whip, and mean punch to get him out of tough spots. Along for the ride are a slew of new cohorts (including Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, and John Hurt) and a few new delicious baddies (Cate Blanchett, Igor Jijikine) to add to his roster of villains. Of course, it's the inclusion of Karen Allen as Marion that truly makes this outing special. But what of the excitement, the humor, and the old Spielberg fun that people of all ages have come to love from this fabled franchise? Inklings of them are there, even if the sands of time have eroded the filmmaker's potency for delivering the magic of yesteryear.
Just as Ford had much to prove, so did the movie's helmer. Spielberg's recent efforts had given rise to the idea that a sweet slice of cinema pie was once again in his recipe book. Resoundingly, he shows that his classic camera chops have gone nowhere, although his work with actors leaves a bit to be desired. In fact, Kingdom's stumbling blocks aren't in its presentation but in its execution. Much of the blame has been thrown screenwriter David Koepp's way, somewhat deservedly. Yet the fact is that the production is plagued by an underlying awkwardness that goes beyond Koepp's wordy approach and half-cooked character work. Performance-wise, viewers are delivered a hodgepodge of misses and knockouts, lending credence to the growing mistrust surrounding co-creator George Lucas' touch - especially given his fondness for stiff acting. The modern age can also be seen rearing its head, thanks to the overall lack of stunts and overuse of computer effects, which create a great lack of tension in much of the overly spectacular proceedings.
That said, there's still some stuff to love in this fourth outing. For instance, the action scenes are still superbly staged, with an early motorcycle chase standing out as a highlight. Also, as if it wasn't good enough to be able to see Indy doing his thing again, there are moments of brilliance between Marion and him, even if they leave one yearning for more. The same goes for the musical maestro behind the series, John Williams, who laces in the Raiders theme with ample glee, transporting his audience to a familiar and welcome place throughout the movie. Yet there is a desire to hear something beyond the subtle B-movie/sci-fi throwback score he delivers. If anything, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull might have the power to shine if viewed merely as escapism entertainment. However, it seems evident that the mileage has not only taken a toll on the character, but the series as well. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi