Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark Midnight Movie Review
By Bret Dorman
I have pretty cool parents. Scratch that. I have awesome parents. Now I don’t know how it is that I came to be a comedy snob, looking at the “why” or “how” a joke is funny instead of just laughing at things I like (because of this Seinfeld/Curb Your Enthusiasm are my Old and New Testament of comedy. So many observations on the types of people and rules of society. Good Stuff.)
I’m an over thinker. Lenny Bruce? George Carlin? Louis CK? All over thinkers. Making connections (and doing so hilariously)others might over look. They are all Geniuses. But my comedy roots must have come from somewhere… right?
My mom is crazy. She’s outgoing. Talks to anyone, anywhere. Loves living life to its fullest and laughing and care free. I get my “weird/silly” side from her. Fo sho.
My dad is more reserved in public. My friends would be shocked to see how he really acts at home. At the dinner table, growing up, with all four family member gathered around (no TV at dinner until later when we kids got older and schedules more unaligned), I would hear my parents talk about work. Work? Boring stuff to a kids right? But hearing my parents complain about work I would pick up on small things my dad noticed and would point out pretty sarcastically. He would also share a practical joke or two he played on a coworker. (Also, my dad is BIG on actually listening to Sports Commentators and pointing out their inconsistencies.)
But all of this comes down to one of the first times I experienced a ‘Movie Rewind’. You know, when you find something so funny you just have to rewind it. Indiana Jones Vs The Scimitar Man was maybe the most I as a kid had seen my dad laughing hysterically and the first time I saw (Indiana Jones and The) Raiders of the Lost Ark I saw that scene at least 6 times…The Story: Indiana Jones is a teacher who vacations as an Archeologist who is secretly a shining spotlight of good natured heroism. He goes looking for The Ark, the item that contains the original Ten Commandments and with it, awesome power. He rekindles an old flame who is good at drinking. Also, Nazis want The Ark for World Domination.
To me, Action Movies can be broken into two categories. Modern Actioners, with fast pacing, over the top action, streamlined characters, and some sort of high concept idea. Then there’s Old School Actioners, the ones that are more likely to take their time, be grounded in some sort of reality, feature more rugged do gooders, and are based on usually one of the same 5 basic cops/robbers concepts. Originally, I wanted to point out Die Hard and Predator are the Before/After point. But really, 6 years before even those movies, Raiders was creating the prototype, the template if your will, for everything after it…It has fast pacing, but doesn’t shy away from making it’s slower parts less ‘immediate’ and over saturated with tension. Jones himself is a sarcastic man with a secret heart of gold but also one of the last characters like Samurai or Cowboy, whose position alone had some weight to it (Archeologist but more apropos… Adventure Seeker). There’s “real historical influence” combine with “real myth.” And lastly, the idea is simple but also personal and original enough to make it fresh. In the end, Raiders is the perfect meld of the old and new. There is Before Raiders (B.R.) and After Raiders (A.R.). Basically what I’m saying is Jones is like Jesus. But with a Bull Whip and Fedora.
Why is this important? Because its everything Midnight Movie lovers love about movies. It doesn’t matter what everyone else as a societal whole or academic group found great. What matter is what is great. We decide what lives on in cinema history because 30 years from now no one will have the dedication to be playing or admiring the ‘flavor of the month.’ The way Harrison Ford plays Jones not as an anti-hero but rather a hero who just doesn’t enjoy the adventure aspect (sees it as more of a job than teaching) sets him slightly apart. He’s not a complete goody two shoes, but he’s not a morally misunderstood renegade. He’s just tired of people knowing his reputation and so willing to put it to the test. But 30 years from now people will still know who Indiana Jones is and not be tired of his adventures, crappy sequel or not…Spielberg translates his love of older serials and comic goofiness to the screen in such a way, with such a style, that the movie industry as made this style its standard and hasn’t uniformly decided on generic standard since. Sure I love the way Neveldine/Taylor move their camera or get crazy shots in the Cranks. But that’s great… for that movie. Not all action movies. What’s good in Raiders is good for any actioner. Period.
And no matter how much you watch Raiders with a critical eye, trying to piece its place in film hall of fame or pantheon… Even the most critical eye, the most fuddy duddy of film critics, will be amazed by the action scenes. I’m not one of those “CGI is all bad” nay sayers, but sometimes a good ole fashion stunt fest is just what the doctor ordered. The last chase scene, where Jones goes from being thrown out a moving truck, to sliding under it, to being dragged behind it, to climbing back on and over it, to throwing the guy out the same way he was thrown out is still to this day one of the best action stunt set pieces I’ve ever seen. And ever will.
Why You Must See It At Midnight: We all like rewinding things we find funny or good. Hell, youtube viral videos make it easy. Just one click and you’ve immediately jumped back to the spot you want or finish watching the whole thing and you are greeted with a nice little replay button. Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark may have those moments… but on the big screen you need to put that urge aside and take in the divine moments as a whole. Plus rumor has it there’s some hidden treasure buried somewhere in the Music Box Theater… and the stars above will provide a map… but only at one certain time of day, or should I say night… Midnight.