Fan reaction to the news that Harrison Ford is set to pick up his whip for one last Indiana Jones adventure has been mixed to say the least. While some fans are dubious that Ford has another action film left in him and are concerned at the prospect of another unpopular movie along the lines of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, other fans are excited to see a beloved character return to the big screen – especially after Ford’s stellar performance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens has proven that he’s still capable of turning in a solid performance for one of his most iconic roles.
While there’s every chance this new movie will prove a triumphant return to form for the Indiana Jones franchise, moviemaker Steven Spielberg will have to be careful to avoid running into problems or falling back on tropes that could draw fan ire. Plenty of elements of past Indiana Jones movies won’t work so well in this next installment.
Some things need to be avoided entirely to make a solid action adventure movie starring the beloved Dr Jones. We’ve discussed ten things we want to see already, so here are ten things that should definitely not appear in the movie in order for it to win over a wider audience.
Overuse of CGI
Compared with Ford’s other iconic role as space smuggler Han Solo, Indiana Jones has always been a grounded character who lives in the real world – albeit a world full of mysticism, magic and divine intervention. Because of this, while newer Star Wars movies have benefited in many ways from the possibilities afforded by computer generated special effects, some of the imperfect CGI in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a major point of contention among longstanding fans of the series.
Animated animals and an overuse of greenscreen work throughout the fourth Indy movie feels out place in a series that otherwise prides itself on impressive practical action sequences. In the years since the last movie’s release, though, many filmmakers have learned about the limitations of computer work in movies – meanwhile, effects technology has made significant strides forward. With any luck, Indiana Jones 5 will keep computer effects to a minimum, and will only feature CGI in places that don’t distract from the action.
Another Rehash of Raiders of the Lost Ark
Copying Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t the only way a new Indy film could go wrong. Raiders of the Lost Ark initially kicked off the Indiana Jones franchise, and was popular for its exploration of Judeo-Christian mythology and desert adventures. When the movie’s sequel, Temple of Doom, proved less popular, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas fell back on the tried and tested formula and created a third movie which featured all the popular elements from the first film.
With the popularity of The Force Awakens, which follows dangerously close to the plot of the original Star Wars, the temptation might be to give Indiana Jones 5 a similar treatment and make a movie that’s as close in iconography and plot to Raiders of the Lost Ark as possible. This would be a disappointing choice, as it would mean missing out on a truly original story starring everyone’s favorite archaeologist.
Physical Stunts for Harrison Ford
Considering that Harrison Ford is now well into his seventies, many fans had their doubts when they heard that he would return to play Han Solo in The Force Awakens. Ford’s recent roles in movies such as Ender’s Game and Cowboys and Aliens were less than his best work, and many began to wonder whether he still had the energy and vitality to reprise his role as an action star. Moviegoers were pleasantly surprised, then, when Ford embodied Han Solo in every possible sense for his return, delivering a powerful performance that was every bit as strong as his earlier turns as the character. His success at recapturing the Han Solo magic bodes well for his ability to do Indiana Jones justice one last time.
That said, Ford isn’t as spry as he once was – the action in The Force Awakens focused on gunplay for Han Solo rather than making Ford run and jump as much as he might have in previous Star Wars movies. Even then, a bit much was asked of him: an accident with an automatic door led to Ford breaking his leg, suggesting that his time throwing punches and hanging off tanks and moving vehicles is far behind him.
Indiana Jones has traditionally been a very scrappy fighter, but any attempt to put Ford through too much physical exertion is likely to turn up less than stellar results. As Ford has proven more than capable of shooting and yelling in The Force Awakens, it’d be better if the structure of Indiana Jones 5 avoids too many bare-knuckle brawls for the actor, in favor of a few more chaotic gunfights.
At the time that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was filmed, Shia LeBeouf was an up-and-coming star who looked set to take over the Indiana Jones franchise from Harrison Ford. Even at the time of the movie’s release, though, fans were appalled at the idea that LeBeouf might even so much as put on Indy’s iconic hat – a clear sign that, for all that Hollywood was eager to see the Transformers star in other action roles, there wasn’t a strong and lasting audience for his work.
In the years since the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, LeBeouf has behaved somewhat questionably in public, turning the actor into something of a joke on the internet as moviegoers worldwide have been led to question his sanity. It’s unlikely that even in his heyday the actor would have been able to carry an Indiana Jones-style movie, but by now, choosing to feature his character in the new movie at all would be an unpopular decision to say the least.
Too Many References to Past Adventures
Another problem that fans had with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was the way it constantly referenced previous movies in the series. A lingering shot of the Ark of the Covenant from the first movie was meant as a subtle nod to fans of the original saga, but ended up feeling gratuitous and blunt. It also ended up taking a lot of the mystery out of the Raiders of the Lost Ark’s ending, as audiences got to see the shadowy warehouse in greater details.
Easter Eggs are entertaining, but when a movie stops to directly and emphatically reference its past legacy, it rarely contributes to the flow of later installments. With the next Indiana Jones adventure, nothing will be gained from looking back with regularity at the events that have gone before. The next movie’s plot should instead focus solely on a new and exciting danger instead of attempting to cash in too heavily on nostalgia from the past.
At this point, it’s easy to find flaws in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and it’s fairly obvious that in order to do Indiana Jones justice, Steven Spielberg will want to stay as far away from the movie’s continuity as possible (which doesn’t seem like it will be the case). One thing, though, which is often held up as a symbol of how far short the movie fell is its central plot, is that it centers not around mystical treasure, but alien artefacts.
It’s easy to see where George Lucas was going with the idea of aliens in an Indiana Jones movie – after all, it fit the time period of the ’50s perfectly. The problem was, it just didn’t have the right feel to it. All other Indiana Jones adventures have been about a brawling archaeologist seeking out mythological items with mystical powers, and the introduction of other worlds and planets to Indy lore simply doesn’t fit the tone of the other movies in the series.
The Markings of a Sequel
Each Indiana Jones movie in the original trilogy stands as its own movie — separate episodes that don’t share much in common and which work as standalone titles. Each movie introduces the hero afresh, has its own unique cast of supporting characters, and tells a self-contained story which wraps up nicely at the end. Even Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a standalone movie, even if, as mentioned above, it does spend more time than other films in the series referencing past movies.
With Hollywood’s fascination with sequels, though, comes the temptation to continue plot points from the last movie. Leaving aside the unpopularity of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and the amount of time that’s passed since its release, a straight sequel simply isn’t in the nature of Indiana Jones, nor the pulp adventure stories that the franchise is based on. Instead, the movie should tell a self-contained story that doesn’t require background research to enjoy.
What’s more, if there are any plans to make further Indiana Jones movies after this one, it shouldn’t be apparent from the movie itself. Filling movies with unnecessary sequel-bait is an all-too-common trend in modern movies, and one which has left critics unimpressed with movies like Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Indy 5 shouldn’t tease other movies: it should be its own adventure that works perfectly all by itself.
Nazis are one of Indiana Jones’ iconic elements – the sight of Harrison Ford punching men sporting swastikas is ingrained into the culture and language of the series. That said, with an older Ford, there’s no logical reason to return to using Hitler’s army as villains in the new movie. Nazis would be an anachronism of monumental proportions, and while the idea of Nazis appearing in later periods of history is common across all media, they’re best left out of the new Indiana Jones movie.
Choosing Russian troops over Nazis as the villains was one thing that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull got right, and choosing time period-appropriate enemies for Indy is a tradition that ought to continue. Considering that Steven Spielberg has publicly sworn against using Nazis as generic baddies in any of his movies after making Schindler’s List, it’s unlikely that they’ll make an appearance in the new movie, and that’s definitely for the best.
An Indiana Jones Death Scene
With Ford reaching the end of his action hero career, there’s talk of Disney choosing to reboot the Indiana Jones franchise soon. Having Ford return to the role one last time, it would be fairly fitting to approach Indiana Jones 5 as a final quest for Harrison Ford’s version of the character before a younger actor takes on the role, and this would mean that the new film would be a perfect opportunity to tribute the pulp movies it’s based on by letting Ford bow out in style with a triumphant death. After all, Indiana Jones would prefer to die in a blaze of glory if the choice were up to him (before ending up in a museum, that is).
There’s just one problem: Star Wars got there first. Han Solo’s death is one of the most poignant moments in The Force Awakens, and is arguably a very necessary narrative choice to pass the torch to a new generation of actors. As popular as The Force Awakens is, though, there’s nothing to be gained from Indiana Jones 5 treading too closely to its plot. The better way to end Jones’ adventures is a triumphant ride into the sunset – something which happened at the end of The Last Crusade, and which would be a better final image to leave Indy on.
While modern audiences are very comfortable bashing the father of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, it is important to remember that George Lucas is responsible for some of the most popular movies ever made. At his prime, everything that Lucas touched turned to gold, and his original story about an adventuring archaeologist whom he named after his pet dog is no different.
With time, though, Lucas’ brilliance has dimmed somewhat. Surrounded by Yes Men, the director has been allowed to indulge some ideas that really should have been left on the cutting room floor. In speaking about his work on Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Steven Spielberg has admitted that he had serious doubts about Lucas’ plans for the movie, but has said that he wasn’t going to question his best friend, as making a fun movie together was more important to Spielberg than making a critically acclaimed masterpiece.
For this reason, even though George Lucas is responsible for the birth of Indiana Jones and meteoric success of the first few movies, it might be for the best if he sits this one out, and gives Spielberg a chance to realise his own unique vision of what the character can be and what adventures are left to be explored.
Into the Sunset
The original Indiana Jones trilogy is one beloved by fans for many reasons – it’s a smart, fast-paced take on the adventure genre has been imitated many times but never perfectly replicated (even when tackled by the original team behind the first trilogy).
Indy 5 does have the potential to reach back up to the series’ previous lofty heights, though, as long as it’s careful to avoid many of the pitfalls that could so easily derail its progress.
What elements do you want to see in Indiana Jones 5? What should be left out of the new movie? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Indiana Jones 5 hits theaters July 19, 2019.