Decade Definers: 1980s – The Indiana Jones Trilogy

Written by Chris Gelderd

Fast forward 50 years to the year 2068 and let’s see how Hollywood and blockbuster movies are made. No film is every truly original. Everything from characters to plot devices to music and locations are influenced marginally by existing material that dates back half a decade or so before the release. From 2018, what will be influencing the future generations of Hollywood to create ground-breaking and genre defining work? Who knows.

But, for now, it’s the 1980s that is our focus for these current Decade Definers.

Looking back to one such inspiration that helped shape the adventure genre during and going forward from the 80s, we have to go back to the late 1800s, early 1920s and the 1960s. Take the literary works of Sir H. Rider Haggard and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, fuse this with the fun of James Bond films pre-1979 and then add the name of a pet Alaskan Malamute dog. Cook all this up in the minds of directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas and you have the foundations for one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, cinematic adventure hero of all time.

Indiana Smith*, portrayed by Tom Selleck.**

*Soon changed to Indiana Jones after Smith was deemed to boring

**Soon re-cast with Harrison Ford after scheduling conflicts for ‘Magnum P.I’.

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The man with the hat” burst onto cinema screens in 1981, kicking off a decade full of inventive, creative, entertaining, fun and pretty much iconic movies spanning many genres that set a template for others to follow. ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ (its original title before being re-branded with ‘Indiana Jones and the…’ prefixing it) was a loving homage to the Saturday morning serial adventures on television and B-movies that fuelled many a childhood before the dawn of computer games and multiplexes.

Director Steven Spielberg dared to take things back to basics film-making. His veteran cast and crew harnessed practical stunt-work over special effects, lovingly crafted models, authentic locations and props and an ol’ fashioned good v evil where the good guy is a dashing, rugged swashbuckling adventurer and the villains are the crux of ALL villainy in the guise of ruthless Nazis.

Harrison Ford, fresh from completing his second Star Wars film ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in which he became a household name on the back of his smuggling scoundrel Han Solo was primed and ready to craft yet another hero for his playlist. But yet Ford avoided a carbon copy of Han Solo set in a galaxy not so far away. He portrayed Indiana Jones as a man rougher around the edges, more focused on his work than his ego and grounded in a reality where he felt pain, he bled and he was in greater danger than just flying pretend space-ships and avoiding pantomime bad guys with laser swords on fictional planets. Ford seemed to evolve into a real man’s man during the era – an American 007 for the early 1940s.

Following on from ‘Raiders…’ came ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Doom’ in 1984 and ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ in 1989. A real book-end of adventure films at the beginning, middle and end of the 80s.

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‘Temple Of Doom’ was, and still stands, as a brave sequel. It retains the formula of what worked previously whilst having the courage to introduce new themes, characters and stories. Not a carbon copy of ‘Raiders…’ in the slightest, it gave us more iconic practical, genre defining action that strayed from the modern era such as a perilous rope-bridge spanning a huge canyon, a nauseating mine cart chase and enough voodoo, slavery and black-magic to force even the easiest going film censor to work for his money.

While not initially as successful as its family-friendly predecessor, ‘Temple Of Doom’ is a fun affair on one hand but more mature and dark on the other – a’la ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ of sequels – pushing us out of our comfort zone with Indiana Jones to explore new dangers and face new villains. It certainly was a bold move but stands strong as the middle of the ‘then’ trilogy.

Rounding the decade out in ‘89, ‘The Last Crusade’ returned Indiana Jones and his audience back to familiar ground. The Nazis were back. The globe-trotting was back. The myths were back. The original cast were back. It was a comfort blanket, 8 years on from where it all began, except this time, Spielberg brought along one of the inspirations for the ride – James Bond himself, Sir Sean Connery, as Henry Jones Snr, Indy’s cantankerous father. After Spielberg lost out on the chance to direct Roger Moore as 007 in 1981’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’, it was only a matter of time before he had his chance in an “alternate universe” kind of way. Sean Connery’s 007 was a base for the creation of Indiana Jones, so what better way to have the man himself involved.

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This pairing of Ford and Connery is one of the most beloved relationships in cinema thanks to their natural chemistry and mature performances that test their patience and tolerance, all the while cemented with a heart-warming love and developing appreciation for estranged father and son. Couple this with the award-winning mix of sun-kissed European, American and African locations, a stellar support cast and daring action, stunt-work and intrigue, ‘The Last Crusade’ proved that Indiana Jones brought a fresh look to the adventure genre in the 1980s that would resonate for decades and generations to come.

Everything about the trilogy felt and looked real. It was a breath of fresh air to audiences who wanted to escape the influx of science fiction or brutal horrors or macho action. They were, in essence, family friendly adventures that traversed the globe in search of mythical, fantastical artefacts from the past with adrenalin-fuelled stunt-work and action; all set around likeable characters and dastardly villains. Importantly, they were all set during crucial points in world history would be very familiar to audiences, allowing them to connect in some way to the story.

From a trademark opening sequence that was a love letter to the B-movies to often tense and chilling, (sometimes face-melting) climaxes blending fact and fantasy, Spielberg and Ford never gave you chance to catch your breath or be complacent from the start – the thrill ride was non-stop for each outing and it was created with such passion that it was impossible to falter, regardless of how strong, different or controversial the story was.

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And it wasn’t just the visual side of things, but also the audible. Composer John Williams, who already had a back catalogue of scores to his name such as ‘Jaws’, ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Superman’, gave us yet another soundtrack that speaks volumes without any need for dialogue. The triumphant, rousing and exciting score that accompanied Indiana Jones on his travels blended sweeping romance, eerie occult, uplifting joy, paternal mischief and a general sense of adventure that is so simple in execution, but never fails to swell the listener’s heart with its sense of pride, passion and power.

So timeless (ironically set over approximately 6 years in real time) was this trilogy of films that 19 years later in 2008 a fourth film was released – ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull’ blending old and new techniques for a new generation of fans, whilst catering to what we loved from the original trilogy. While reception and expectation was not quite met, it still proved that for that sense of simple adventure and daring heroism, Indiana Jones is the man who still delivers.

Countless comic book adaptations, novels, computer games, toys and a host of other merchandise followed showing that the love for Indy never dwindled, and that love and will soon be heightened again with a 5th film planned, uniting Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford once more for an expected release date of 2020.

If the 80s proved adventure has a name, then that name is Indiana Jones.

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Indiana Jones And The Tomb Of Quiet Optimism

Following last year’s announcement, the prospect of a fifth instalment to the Indiana Jones franchise was met with some level of cynicism, especially when many Indy fans would argue that ‘The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ should have remained a nice idea. Nevertheless Indy 5 has turned a lot of heads of late, especially following Disney’s recent announcement of a 2019 release date.

This time around we are given several reassurances that it won’t be worse than the previous film, in fact some may be forgiven for holding some keen anticipations for Dr Jones’ fifth adventure. Firstly, Harrison Ford has thrown his hat into the ring and has said he will reprise the role of Indiana Jones, whilst Steven Spielberg has naturally taken to the Director’s chair. The bigger news of course is that Disney acquired the rights to the franchise back in 2013, leaving many to ponder whether this could be a ‘The Force Awakens’ style reboot?

Spielberg has told fans that George Lucas will be an Executive Producer. Having conceptualised the plot for all the films in the series so far (three out of four can’t be bad), it remains unclear how much ‘hands on’ involvement Lucas will have on the untitled Indy 5 project. Reports suggest that Lucas has taken a back seat, allowing script writer David Koepp and Steven Spielberg to deliberate about where the whip snapping archaeologist should go next. Supposedly pen is yet to take to paper, that said Disney studios have allowed some breathing space by announcing the release date to be 19th July 2019. Although my heart breaks a little every time I catch a glimpse of ‘Crystal Skull’, my inner movie-nerd is quietly anticipating which baddies will disintegrate into dust in Indiana Jones 5.

Written by Mark F. Putley

New Indiana Jones Film Confirmed For 2019 Release

Disney have confirmed that Steven Spielberg will be directing a fifth ‘Indiana Jones’ film that will see Harrison Ford reprise his whip-cracking iconic role. Spielberg directed all four of the previous entries in the franchise, the last of which was ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ which was released in 2008 and starred Shia Labeouf, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, and John Hurt. 

In the official statement, Alan Horn, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, says that “Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019. It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.

Given the very poor reception ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ received, a fifth film comes as quite a surprise to me. Let’s hope that lessons have been learned and Spielberg and Ford deliver a film reminiscent to the originals people love.  

The fifth Indiana Jones films is set to hit theatres 19th July, 2019. 

Written by Tom Sheffield

Steven Spielberg: Top 5

Written by Chris Winterbottom

It’s going to be an interesting year for Steven Spielberg, as his upcoming adaptation of ‘The BFG’ is due to be released to UK audiences on the 22nd July 2016, and I for one am very much looking forward to it. As a child, this Roald Dahl novel about nasty and nice giants was one of my favourites, so it will be interesting to see how Spielberg’s vision fairs. The novel is obviously aimed at younger audiences, yet it also holds a real sinister edge, which I absolutely love.

Spielberg is often criticised for being overly sentimental in his films (War Horse being a near-unbearable example of this), so I do hope Spielberg finds a perfect balance between the dark edge and family-friendly tone of the novel. With this and the recent announcement that Spielberg and Harrison Ford would be re-teaming to create a fifth instalment in the ‘Indiana Jones’ saga, I thought now would be a good to go through my favourite Spielberg films. Here’s my top 5.


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5. Saving Private Ryan

Criticism of this film is levelled at its sentimentality, and its inability to improve on what is one of the most groundbreaking opening sequences in cinema history. The D-Day landings which open the film is as brutal, powerful and moving now as it was upon release in 1998. I agree that the rest of the film does not reach the dizzy heights of the opening, but for me, it remains one of Spielberg’s most accomplished technical achievements. I also agree that its sentimentality becomes a little cloying by the end, but there is no doubting the technical brilliance and moving story at the heart of this film. Also the acting is superb, particularly from Tom Hanks, who delivers one of the most interesting performances of his career. Hollywood’s treatment of battle sequences changed forever after this film and it’s clear that the technical achievements have inspired other filmmakers (Paul Greengrass for example). ‘Saving Private Ryan’ is undoubtedly one of the finest war films ever made.


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4. Minority Report

This film really is an underrated gem. To tell the truth, my first viewing of ‘Minority Report’ left me uninspired; I thought it was just another middle of the road sci-fi movie. But one Christmas, I remember watching it on TV while flicking through the channels. Within seconds I was hooked and I saw a completely different movie than I did the first time around. I think this is one of Tom Cruise’s finest performances; he is so captivating and charismatic in this role it’s hard to think of another film where he is so watchable. Not to mention the beautiful cinematography which adds so much atmosphere. Where the special effects create a unique vision of the future, it is the oppressive light in the background that creates a heady mixture of noir and science fiction. The atmosphere is creepy, claustrophobic and strangely chilling. This overexposed light technique is something Spielberg has used quite often in his modern movies; he even used the technique in the recent ‘Bridge of Spies’ and it is clearly a device he will continue to use. The storytelling is also executed brilliantly and the set pieces are exhilarating.


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3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

A moving and expertly-crafted family story where, once again, Spielberg’s unquenchable thematic exploration of an absent father is at the film’s heart. Of course, it ends on a syrupy-sweet note but there is no doubting the films power and you would be hard pushed not to be swept up in the film’s majesty. This is a film that is as timeless as any, and E.T. himself is one of the most recognisable movie characters in history. A spellbinding performance from Henry Thomas who plays Elliot, Spielberg really did get the best from an incredibly young cast. One of the key quotes from E.T. is “I’ll be right here” and I’m sure he will be for many a year.


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2. Jurassic Park

I personally think this is one of the finest films ever made. It is a rollercoaster ride that has all the thrills and spills you expect, as well as plenty of spectacle. But there are deep philosophical mutterings underneath the still gleaming surface, such as the fear of fatherhood and the morals of genetic engineering. This was a film long in the making for Spielberg; it is ‘Jaws’ on land and has some of the most iconic action sequences in recent cinema; the bloke on the toilet?! Wow. With strong performances throughout and Jeff Goldblum showing why he was one of the coolest actors of the ’90’s, this is one of Spielberg’s finest films and a movie that rewards repeat viewings.


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1. Jaws

Of course Spielberg’s finest film has to be ‘Jaws’. Films like ‘Jurassic Park’ would not have existed if it was not for this work of genius. With the now infamous production problems with the animatronic shark, the film is an example of how financial restrictions often spark the most interesting creativity. With recent big-budget superhero films being released – films which I believe fundamentally lack imagination and creativity – ‘Jaws’ is a lesson in how to stretch a budget and invent filmmaking techniques to achieve your cinematic goal. Not seeing the shark ultimately proved to be the greatest strength of this film, because it somehow amplified the scare-factor and cranked up the claustrophobia. It was also the first film to smash the box-office; word of mouth and large publicity meant this film was sold out for weeks. Now every big-budget blockbuster tries to emulate this feat and to be honest, it works – just look at ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’. Thanks to a carefully moulded marketing campaign, no amount of bad reviews can stop a juggernaut of this scale. It is, by far, Spielberg’s greatest achievement both technically and on a commercial level. The film has inspired so many of his colleagues and even himself in recent years and will continue to do so for many more. 

Top 10 Movie Characters of All Time

Written by Daniel Chadwick

It’s the age old debate – who is the best character to ever grace the silver screen. In my introduction to JumpCut UK, I will try to tackle this tricky question and offer some insight into the ultimate form of art. For every Han Solo, there is also an Atticus Finch, and this list tries to find the balance between the nerdy and the dramatic. So here we go…


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10. Lou Bloom (Nightcrawler) – Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal is without a doubt one of the greatest actors of our time. It’s honestly a shock that the man only has one Oscar nomination, especially considering his turn in this underrated crime-noir masterpiece. In ‘Nightcrawler’, Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, an ambitious man who will do whatever it takes to find success in this crazy world. So he decides to become a nightcrawler; filming crimes and accidents, and delivering them to the local news station for a sweet fee. Gyllenhaal not only transformed drastically for the role, but completely captures the sociopathic tendencies of this character. He’s creepy, darkly funny and delivers the performance of his career. For us, he was much more deserving of an Oscar win than Eddie Redmayne, and worse still, he didn’t even get nominated for this performance.


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9. Tony Stark AKA Iron-Man (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – Robert Downey Jr.

Iron-Man is pretty much the reason the Marvel Cinematic Universe exists and thrives today. This special character is the reason so many comic book movies have been made, and studios have taken risks on movies like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Deadpool’ have been made. This character also jump-started Robert Downey Jr.’s career. As Tony Stark, he’s suave, charming, funny and a lot of the time is the best part of any Marvel movie. We have a lot to thank Iron-Man for, and he definitely earns his spot in this top 10 movie characters of all time.


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8. Mr. White (Reservoir Dogs) – Harvey Keitel

Quentin Tarantino writes so many instantly memorable characters, that the perpetual debate as to which is the best still rages on today. Some cite Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) from ‘Inglorious Basterds’, others might say The Bride from ‘Kill Bill’. But for me the one character that always stands out is Mr. White from Tarantino’s first (and in my opinion his best) film, ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Harvey Keitel portrays a cool, collected criminal and is by far the stand-out star of a movie filled with talent. Somehow he makes Tarantino’s script even better and that’s no mean feat. He’s one of the only Dogs that you connect to, considering most of them are sociopaths (or psychopaths) and his father-like love for Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange is visibly moving.


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7. James Bond (Bond Series) – Sean Connery

People constantly argue about who the best James Bond is, with many millennials claiming that Daniel Craig’s Bond is the best, but that’s far from the truth. The man who brought Bond to life on the screen for the first time, Sean Connery, was the definitive Bond and is by far the most faithful adaptation of the ultimate spy. Bond was always supposed to be a little corny, and Connery embraced that completely. He had an abundance of fantastic one-liners – way before Arnold Schwarzenegger came along – and he completely captured the cool, suave characteristics of the greatest spy to ever grace the screen. Long live the one true Bond.


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6. Han Solo (Star Wars Franchise) – Harrison Ford

Han Solo has slowly but surely become the epitome of ‘Star Wars’ nerdendom. Fans, whether they be nerds or just part of the mainstream audience, adore Harrison Ford’s iconic character, and the beloved character is one of the major factors in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ being so popular. He’s the ultimate hero, has quotes that are so memorable they are immortalised on posters and t-shirts the world over, and is just an all-round awesome movie character. If there’s one thing you can thank George Lucas for, besides bringing us ‘Star Wars’, it is creating this loveable rogue.


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5.  Sarah Connor (Terminator Franchise) – Linda Hamilton

Sarah Connor lives on in action folklore as one of the most kick-ass women to ever hit the big screen. James Cameron created a character that was not only good with a gun, but also interesting, layered and brave. There’s a lot of people who would not even consider fighting a Terminator on this list, but she is not one of them, that’s for sure. Forget ‘Terminator Genysis’, if you want the real Sarah Connor go no further than Linda Hamilton in the first two ‘Terminator’ movies.


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4. The Joker (The Dark Knight) – Heath Ledger

With Jared Leto starring in ‘Suicide Squad’ as the Joker, it’s inevitable that everyone is talking about how he’ll compare to Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson. I’m going to come out and say the honest truth that we are all thinking – no one will ever come close to Ledger. His bloody, crazy performance as the Joker will never be topped ,and I stand by that fully. He may be a full-on psychopath, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a seriously cool depiction of the most infamous comic book villain. Ledger completely transforms in the role in a way that I’ve never seen before on film (and I doubt I will ever see again). Rest in peace Heath Ledger, because you will be remembered for decades to come.


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3. Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones Franchise) – Harrison Ford

There are probably some of you in shock right now, wondering how Indy is not sitting pretty at number one on the list. ‘Indiana Jones’ is one of the best adventure stories out there, and the leading man would easily have been number one on the list if it hadn’t been for the pretty average ‘Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’. Indy is smooth with the ladies, knows how to use his whip and beats Nazis like it’s nobodies business. Here’s hoping for a brilliant ‘Indiana Jones 5’.


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2. Gandalf (The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit Trilogies) – Ian McKellen

It was always going to be hard to find an actor who could live up to the greatness of Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ adaptations. But in Sir Ian McKellen, they found a brilliant Gandalf and someone who did so well with the character that he got an Oscar nomination for his portrayal. This wizard is as mysterious as he is awesome, and McKellen translates that perfectly. He’s also brilliant in ‘The Hobbit’ series, even though those movies were not close to the brilliance of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.


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1. Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) – Gregory Peck

The great Gregory Peck played many brilliant characters throughout his legendary career, but none as effective and brilliant as Atticus Finch, a man who fought for what was right, even when it meant going against the norm. This character is firm, righteous and has so many memorable monologues that it’s hard to keep track. It’s unbelievable to think that Peck’s performance made Finch even better in the movie than he was in the book; a worthy winner for me.


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Honourable mentions have to be given to Neo (Keanu Reeves) in ‘The Matrix’ and Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) in ‘American Psycho’; close, but no cigar guys. What do you think of my list? If you think I missed anyone out, or just want to congratulate me on a job well done, find me on Twitter @GetReelMovies and let’s have a good ol’ debate.

Indiana Jones Reboot All But Confirmed

The rumours have been circling for a while now that Chris Pratt will star in a reboot of the legendary ‘Indiana Jones’ series. Now, director of the original four movies, Steven Spielberg himself has come forward to state his interest in directing the remake. With not even a script in place as of now, surely the Spielberg influence will hurry this project along and Disney will give the sequel the green light sooner rather than later. Read more here.