It was recently announced that July 2019 will bring us a new Indiana Jones movie, starring Harrison Ford and directed by Steven Spielberg. This will be the first Indy film to be produced by Disney and the fifth in the series.
It’s been awhile since 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the most poorly received of the films. Watching the ‘making of’ documentary on the DVD, you will hear Spielberg tell a story about how he didn’t want to do a fourth one (let alone a fifth), telling us that he purposely put a shot at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in which the characters ride off into the sunset. He talks about how George Lucas wanted to do an Indy film that was a throwback to the 1950’s sci-fi cult cinema films of the day, most of which were about Cold War paranoia, which would be age-appropriate for Harrison to play Indy. Spielberg resisted/dragged his feet about the idea of doing another alien film, something he believed he had done to death. He finally gave in when George Lucas came up with the idea of them being “inter-dimensional” instead of “extra-terrestrial”. Because that’s an enormous difference that was explained vividly in the film. It really wasn’t.
What resulted was a movie whose more interesting elements were about the Cold War paranoia, but that gave us over-the-top cartoonish villains who just happened to be Russian. And yes, the stupid “hide from a nuclear blast in the refrigerator” scene…and the Jar Jar gophers. We also got to see Shia LeBeouf play a Fonzie/Tarzan wannabe named Mutt Williams who ends up being Indy’s son with his flame from the first movie, Marion Ravenwood. Spielberg acknowledges in this DVD interview that he felt he had moved on to other areas of filmmaking, brilliant historical dramas like Lincoln, for instance, which is why he didn’t want to return to this series.
So, next year, we are going to see The BFG, Spielberg’s first animated fantasy film since The Adventures of Tin Tin, and an adaptation of a great book that everyone remembers. Then in 2018, Spielberg’s first attempt at live-action, non-sequel sci-fi in thirteen years with Ready Player One. Then…the fifth movie in a series whose last installment was immensely disappointing and arguably Spielberg’s worst film.
Before you groan too loudly, what can they do to bring back the feel of the original series? Can Disney bring back the feel of the original series by distancing George Lucas the way they did with Star Wars? Or is that a lost cause because Lucas and Spielberg are friends? Well, however that plays out, here are some things that I would like to see in Indy 5.
As much as I hated Shia LaBeouf’s character in this film, I also hate it when they change actors between films. Yes, Maggie Gyllenhaal was an improvement over Katie Holmes between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but it still took some getting used to. I’m still not used to Don Cheadle as War Machine. They could recast Mutt’s role, but there are ways and reasons that they could write him out completely. Hollywood is very youth-oriented, so a movie about an older action hero/older couple would be refreshingly different and something Spielberg may welcome. Maybe Mutt has matured a lot since the last film and went off on his own. Maybe he joined the Army, that’s a good way to write characters out of things. That was how they wrote Richie Cunningham out of Happy Days when Ron Howard wanted to go be a director.
But, yeah, no Mutt. Don’t retcon him either. Acknowledge him like you did with Sean Connery in the last movie and move forward.
NO CARTOONY VILLIANS.
Nazis are probably some of the greatest villains in movie history. They are so notorious that you can just explain that so-and-so is a Nazi at the beginning of your film and the audience instantly hates him. From The Sound of Music to Captain America: The First Avenger, this formula works.
The original Indy films had incredibly scary villains because they were Nazis, including a very tense, face-to-face encounter between Indy and Hitler himself in The Last Crusade. But when they set the last film in 1957 and centered it around the Cold War, the villains became Russians. And the accents got louder and sillier, reducing otherwise great actors to cartoony stereotypes. So, yeah, focus on the villain being scary, like those freaky Aztec people in Temple of Doom, and less on the on-the-nose accents.
THIS ONE’S FOR THE FANS.
Seriously, no hate on social media about how old Harrison Ford is. Obviously, he is going to have a stunt man for the stunts. They can replace a stuntman’s head with an actor’s head in the computer these days (Christopher Lee as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels). And Ford’s a great actor. Should he be sidelined to “old people” movies like Super Exotic Marigold Hotel (or whatever)? No. Like I said, a movie about an older action hero is a nice change of pace for youth-oriented Hollywood, so…bring it. Just do it right. I’d also like to see a Spider-Man movie eventually where he is married and in his forties. Y’know, because they did it in the comics. But that’s an article for another time.
Are you excited for the next Indiana Jones film? What would you like to see/like to see improved in the new film? Comment below.