Tag Archives: Harrison Ford

My Thoughts on: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

So as I was booking movie tickets last week, I was delighted to see that my local Regal Cinema was showing the 40th anniversary screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Hard as it is to believe that this film is 40 years old, I couldn’t say no to the chance to see this film in theaters, as the only other opportunity I had to see this film on the big screen was five years ago when I got to see Raiders of the Lost Ark in concert (a fun experience, but not quite the same as seeing it in a theater).

I‘ll start off by saying that Raiders of the Lost Ark is just as good as I remembered. I grew up watching this film, seen it more times than I can count, and oh my goodness was it fun to see it play out in a movie theater. If you’re not familiar with this film, this is the first movie to feature Harrison Ford as archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones. A lot of the movie collections will actually retitle this film “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” but Raiders of the Lost Ark is in fact the proper title. And as the title implies, Indiana Jones is in search of the fabled Ark of the Covenant….but so are the Nazis (because this film is set in 1936 so of COURSE the Nazis are the bad guys).

Half of what makes Raiders of the Lost Ark so amazing is John Williams’ phenomenal score. Williams has never done a bad film score, but I feel like this point in time was particularly good for him, as Raiders of the Lost Ark came out the year after Empire Strikes Back (and we all know how good THAT score is). My favorite musical moment in this film remains ‘The Map Room’ when Jones has to deduce where the Well of the Souls REALLY is (after learning that his rival doesn’t know after all). This is a perfectly shot scene and what makes it memorable is that the music does 90% of the work. From the moment the cue starts until the end, Harrison Ford doesn’t say a word because the music is telling the story for you.

And then there’s, of course, the story of the film itself. It’s classic good guy vs bad guy storytelling and even though I can quote most of the film from memory, it never ever gets old, that’s how good this film is. Something I’ve grown to appreciate over the rewatches is how this film subverts the adventure tropes that it claims to emulate. Examples include (but are not limited to): Indiana Jones is initially presented as a tough explorer, but he’s TERRIFIED of snakes; Jones steals a uniform from a Nazi guard but it doesn’t fit him when he tries to put it on (subverting the idea that the enemy uniform you steal will ALWAYS fit); Jones is also not as smart as he thinks he is, for proof I cite the opening scene when he tries to trick the booby trap into letting him remove the golden idol without setting it off.

I’m also a big fan of Paul Freeman’s Belloq, the French archaeologist who is Jones’ primary rival throughout the film. On the initial viewing, you might be inclined to just hate Belloq because he works with the Nazis, but the more you watch this film, the more you realize it’s not quite that simple. Sure, Belloq is on the wrong side of history (and he pays for it dearly), but his interest in the Ark is 100% genuine. Also, I think his feelings for Marion are real too, as he seems genuinely upset when Marion is thrown into the snake-filled Well of the Souls. Really, I just like that Belloq is a nuanced villain, in contrast to the Nazis who are just out and out evil.

One thing that’s always bothered me though is the ending. I can still remember watching this film as a kid and being absolutely bewildered that the last thing we see is the Ark getting shut up into a box and taken deep into a packed warehouse. It frustrated the heck out of me as a kid, and even though I sort of understand why the film ends this way, it still frustrates me now if I’m honest. I can’t help but agree with Jones’ final assessment “Fools…..bureaucratic fools. They don’t know what they’ve got there.”

Raiders of the Lost Ark may be 40 years old, but it’s only improved with age. If you get the chance to see this anniversary screening, please go watch, it’s an experience everyone should have at least once.

Let me know what you think about Raiders of the Lost Ark in the comments below and have a great day!

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Blade Runner 2049: A Masterpiece

WARNING: This discussion will contain MAJOR spoilers for the film, so if you haven’t seen it yet, STOP NOW!!

When they announced that a sequel to Blade Runner was really coming, I was NOT a fan of the idea, I admit it. To me, it was one of those films that couldn’t have a sequel without ruining the concept. So even though the previews looked good, I still approached this film with a high degree of skepticism. There was a long checklist of things this film HAD to do in order for me to walk out of the theater happy. And now that I’ve finally seen Blade Runner 2049, I have to say, it didn’t just fulfill that list…it SURPASSED it.

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I truly didn’t believe that the look, feel and SOUND of the the original Blade Runner could ever be duplicated and I was dead wrong. From the very beginning, I felt a connection back to the original film that only grew stronger as the story continued. And what a story! 30 years after the original film, there are more replicants than ever, but now they all obey (according to Niander Wallace, who has taken over the defunct Tyrell Corporation). Agent K (Ryan Gosling) is one of these replicants who now works as a blade runner, hunting down the last of the Nexus 8 models. His world is turned upside down though when he discovers evidence that one of the Nexus 8 replicants died in childbirth. According to everything known about replicants…this shouldn’t be even remotely possible. As Madame (Robin Wright) points out, if there’s truly no difference between replicant and human, there will either be a war, or an outright slaughter. She orders K to find the child and ‘retire’ it.

Right away my gut instinct said that the dead replicant was Rachael, I’m not sure why but it made perfect sense in my head. Then, when K traveled to Wallace headquarters (with a great look at the old Tyrell pyramid building) and Luv played an old ‘crystal’ recording of Rachael being given the Voigt-Kampff test by Deckard (using audio from the original film), that was the moment I fell in love with the film (not to mention the fact that they confirmed to anyone who has seen the original film that this was Rachael and that she DID have a child by Deckard). I was not expecting such an explicit tie-in to the original film, in fact, I wasn’t expecting ANY type of tie-in.

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The search for the child continues, and as the story goes on, all the evidence seems to point to the notion that K is actually this missing child. K has strong memories of hiding a toy wooden horse as a child; when he later finds this same horse, it seems to confirm that his memory was real, and not implanted. I was totally okay with this idea, until a wrench was thrown into the works. After encountering Deckard, and unwittingly leading Luv (who is also Wallace’s enforcer) straight to him, K is rescued by an underground resistance movement made up of replicants, who believe that they are equal to humans, and the existence of Rachael’s child proves it. K meets Freysa, who helped deliver that child and confirms…it was a healthy baby girl. Despite all the evidence, K can’t be that child, even though he clearly wants to be. I actually felt a glimmer of disappointment for a moment, but it didn’t last. In hindsight, it would’ve been too simple for K to be the missing child, too obvious as it were. And if you’re in the world of Blade Runner, nothing is THAT simple. Actually, once it was confirmed Rachael had a girl, for a little while I thought it might be Luv. After all, if you look closely at her, she does resemble Racheal a bit. But then I remembered she’s definitely a replicant, so it couldn’t be her either.

Then came the scene that made my jaw smack the floor. Deckard is brought before Wallace (who is played in a semi-creepy way by Jared Leto) who wants to know where the child is, or at the very least where the replicants who helped him and Rachael are. Wallace has prepared a special reward if Deckard helps him, a very special reward indeed. To my great shock, out of the shadows steps….Rachael. An exact duplicate of how she looked 30 years ago, gait, mannerisms and all. It shocked me in great part because Sean Young, who played Rachael in the original film had loudly and frequently said that she was not involved in this film in ANY way!! Now it turns out that this was a massive piece of misdirection, as Young WAS involved in directing her body double in how to act as Rachael. The character was resurrected in the same way as Princess Leia in Rogue One, only the results now are…perfect, absolutely perfect.

The identity of Deckard and Rachael’s daughter came as a bit of a shock, but it also made perfect sense. It turns out that the missing child is actually one of the best ‘memory designers’ in the world. She’s lived most of her life in a sterile chamber because of a ‘genetic disorder.’ It’s brilliant: what better way to hide the child of a replicant and a human in plain sight by fudging the records and making it appear that she has a compromised immune system and therefore must live apart from human contact? The story ends with Deckard coming in to the room where she’s working, clearly overwhelmed to see his child for the very first time. And K? He finally succumbs to the wounds he received in his final confrontation with Luv, but he is visibly at peace as well. At the moment he lays back in the snow, you can hear the iconic “Tears in Rain” theme from the original Blade Runner.

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And speaking of the music, I had my doubts considering Vangelis isn’t involved but WOW! Musically it felt very much like the original film, with long synth tones and other motifs. At times the music felt like a sound cloud (which is a good thing), building and pulsating around the action (a good example is the end of the fight between Luv and K, when the dying Luv is looking up through the water).

More thoughts on Blade Runner 2049:

-I LOVE the look of Los Angeles, it has that same gritty, futuristic yet falling apart feel of the original. And seeing the former Tyrell pyramid got a little giggle out of me (I was wondering if we would see that building again). Also the abandoned Las Vegas looked amazing as well.

-I found it fascinating that K had a holographic girlfriend (Joi). Even though she’s programmed to “say everything you want to hear”, you get the sense that her love for K is real. Also the scene where she “syncs” with a call girl to give K a night with a “real woman” was…fascinating, to say the very least.

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-There are two ways the story can go from here. First, this could be the end and I would be perfectly happy with that. All my questions regarding the end of the original film have been answered to my satisfaction, we know that Deckard has found his daughter, the story could be over. But then again, there are hooks that could lead into another film, as we’ve also been told that a revolution is coming from the enslaved replicants. A sequel could cover this as well as the ongoing adventure of Deckard with his daughter.

My final words on the film are: Blade Runner 2049 is an amazing film, a masterpiece. Don’t let any doubts about this being a sequel to Blade Runner hold you back from going to see it. This is easily the best film I’ve seen this year.

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Blade Runner (1982): A misunderstood gem

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