Yesterday, select AMC theaters were hosting a marathon of all four Indiana Jones movies. I couldn't wait to go, mostly because after seeing Raiders last weekend, I was dying to see Temple of Doom.
I should explain up front that I am one of like 5 people in the world who actually love Temple of Doom. I realize I am deeply in the minority on this. For most, that film is too dark, or pushes their suspension of disbelief too far. Most people I know (including my family) vastly prefer Last Crusade to Temple of Doom, but I'm the opposite. Last Crusade is so full of stupid and deliberate attempts at cute/humor that it drives me insane. Temple of Doom has the advantage of being one of the few sequels out there that did not try to follow in the first movie's footsteps. I love that about it. I think that is one of its great strengths. Same lead character, totally different setting, characters, plot. Last Crusade goes back to typical "let's recreate the wheel" realm. Another strike against Last Crusade in my book.
Seeing all three movies in a row (which I've never done with these) really highlighted the differences. Raiders is, of course, damned near perfect. This viewing was far superior to last week's IMAX screening. There were no glitches with the projection, the volume was only loud, not outrageously loud, and those two hours flew by. I mean flew. Fastest two hours ever. And I loved every second of it. I sat there grinning the whole time like I'd never seen Raiders before. The mark of a great movie: it truly does not get old no matter how many times you see it. I love Indy. I love Marion, I adore Belloq. I love Katanga. I love the ark. I love that beautiful, awesome truck chase. I love the score. The only thing I don't like is that massive, epic Egyptian Grand Canyon that comes out of nowhere. That is the only part that makes me roll my eyes. Other than that. Sheer love.
But while I saw Raiders a jillion times in the theater when it came out, my family only saw Temple of Doom about 8-10 times in the theater. And I've only seen it a couple times on television since, and not for a few years now, so, for yesterday's marathon, it was the one film of the three I was really looking forward to seeing again. REALLY looking forward to seeing. I love the musical opening credits, love Willie standing in front of the movie title. Sure, Willie is annoying and shrill and screechy for about half the movie, but I'm okay with that. I've known some people who would behave no differently thrust into her situation. And she actually grows and changes as the movie goes on, something I appreciate. Oh sure, I can do without the gross feast scene at the palace, but it's short, and it happens to be coupled with some of coolest and most pointed dialogue in any Indiana Jones movie, where Indy's finally called out on his archeological methods. That's a great moment.
But this movie really gets going for me when Indy discovers the secret passage in Willie's room. From that point on, I love this movie. Short Round is one of the few movie kid characters I love. He isn't an idiot, for one thing. Plane in trouble? Shortie checks for parachutes on his own, no one needs to tell him to do that. He saves Indy's bacon more than once in this movie, and his acting never seems forced. And I love that Indy never talks down to Shortie, lets him take on adult responsibility ahead of Willie, even. Their relationship is one of things that makes this movie work so well for me.
Now, yesterday was a near perfect day, except for one mishap. The theater had a fire alarm go off . In the middle of Temple of Doom. Everyone in all of the AMC's theaters had to evacuate to the lobby. They did not pause the movie immediately, and so when it was finally determined the alarm was false, mass crowds filed back to their respective theaters, and the movie finally started again, the movie started about eight minutes after we'd left. Dude. If this had happened early in the movie, I might not have minded. But when did it happen? Right when Willie was about to be lowered into the pit. When did it pick up? In the middle of Indy's fight with Pat Roach's guard. What did we miss in those eight minutes? ONLY MY FAVORITE PART OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE!!!!!!
Yes, I missed The Moment. The reason I drove forty miles yesterday to see this in the theater again. The moment I always sit through this entire movie waiting for. This moment:
The moment when John William's "Slave Children Crusade" theme kicks in all its full glory, and Indy is done with taking crap from the bad guys. He is going to free those kids and no one is going to stop him. The camera zooms in, music soars, the audience cheers...
But no. I didn't get to see Shortie rescue Indy, didn't get to see Indy rescue Willie, didn't get to see that famous close up, didn't get to see them rescue the kids... It also threw the rest of Temple of Doom a bit out of kilter, so the whole movie seemed to rush after that point. But I love the showdown on the bridge second best, so at least I got that.
Of all the eight minutes of film in the entire day to miss, it had to be that eight minutes? Dude!! Yeah, I'm still sore over it. Very sore.
Then came Last Crusade. I did not like Last Crusade at all the very first time I saw it in the theater. Then, of course, we went back to see it multiple times, and I got used to it. I accepted the stuff I didn't like, and embraced the few moments I really did like. Seeing it directly after Raiders and Temple of Doom, I felt like I was back at that first viewing again, where all the flaws just bugged me. I should say that I love the plot of this movie, I just don't like the stupid dialogue that plagues this movie. This is the only Indiana Jones movie that makes me aware of the script, which pulls me out of the movie. I think I can count the moments/scenes I genuinely like in this movie on two hands. In the order they happen:
1. Indy pretending to be a Scottish lord
2. "She talks in her sleep." Followed by Sean Connery's little smile. Now THAT is a brilliant moment.
3. "The floor's on fire. And the chair." Love that whole scene.
4. "There is more in the diary than just a map" scene
5. "I'm sorry, son, but they got us."
6. The entire tank chase/capture/rescue, from "goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them" through the tank crash.
7. Donovan shooting Dr. Henry Jones.
8. "Indiana. Indiana. Let it go."
Okay, that last is my favorite moment in the entire movie, when Sean Connery's character, who has been calling Indy "Junior" the entire film, finally calls him Indiana. I actually seem to have this big thing for that, as my favorite moment in Raiders is when Belloq also finally calls him Indiana. It just so happens both moments are when Dr. Jones/Belloq have to reason with Indy, and his name seems to help reach him, but still. Love it.
And I should also say that I LOVE Michael Byrne as the German Colonel. He is the only character who is not an idiot in this movie, who doesn't have any stupid dialogue or stupid moments. He is awesome. I loved him the first time I saw the movie, and I loved him yesterday. He's the anodyne to the pain of watching the filmmakers turn Marcus Brody from smart and cool and capable in Raiders to an idiot and a fool simply for comic relief purposes. I cannot forgive them for that.
I would actually liked to have stayed for the fourth movie, just to see how it played after the first three, but I was just kind of done with sitting at that point, and my ears were aching from wearing earplugs all day long. The theater's fire alarm was two bright white flashing strobe lights, and that had given me a giant migraine too. I really didn't think I could make it through another two hours. And so, I cut out.
So, how's that for a giant rambling post on my experience at the Indiana Jones Marathon?