So, the big news seems to be there will be a new Indiana Jones movie, the fifth1.
And this is big news because apparently we will get Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, and Steven Spielberg at the helm.
Now, a lot of the fans I heard are damn sure this movie will suck.
It will be worse than that Crystal Skulls thing!
… they say.
But I’m not sure.
There are ways to make a good, solid, entertaining action fantasy pulp movie featuring a 73 years old man as the main character.
Granted, it needs some work.
But if you would please follow this link, Mr Spielberg –>
Fact – Harrison Ford is 73 years old.
Fact – Indiana Jones was born in 1899.
Fact – Indiana Jones V will have to be set in the early ’70s.
Now, if I think of the ’70s and adventure, I either think about ancient astronauts (but we saw that already and, well, it was not that good) or space stations and undersea bases (but that’s James Bond bailiwick – and nobody does it better, right?).
So, let’s forget about those and think in terms of lost civilizations and maybe the remnants of Atlantis.
Opar? Yes, let’s rip off Edgar Rice Burroughs.
An ancient Atlantean lost city in the style of Opar means Africa.
And Africa in the ’70s is a powder keg of a place.
Idi Amin Dada rose to power in 1971 – and he was a character beyond the wildest imagination of a pulp writer2, a perfect, charismatic and chilling bad guy.
In 1970s Africa we have political turmoil, guerrilla, international interests and corporate shady deals.
We have jungles and deserts and uncharted territories.
Let’s get someone there to investigate some big ancient world mystery – say, something that popped up from satellite images or from Skylab photos.
Let’s call this thing…
Indiana Jones and the Throne of Atlantis
Now, in the ’70s Indiana Jones is an old man – scarred, rumpled, tired, disillusioned.
The years finally match the mileage. The music’s too loud and people wear bell-bottoms.
His team members (young and tech-savvy) see him as a relic of the past, somewhat embarrassing, a consultant on this mission that will force them to stop often because he’s old.
The guys in the team call him the Dinosaur. The women admit he’s still quite a charmer, in a rough way, but they all laugh when he tells them about lost Indian temples and getting Hitler’s autograph or that bit about the Hovitos and their idol.
An old man full of bullshit stories. A relic from the time when archeology was done with a trowel instead of a radar3, back when you could defeat the Nazis by punching them.
So OK, they are exploring the jungle, and they are being oh, so very condescending with Old Man Jones.
The kids are cool and confident. The local dictator might be a problem, the local guerrillas might want a piece of the action, but hey, it’s no big deal, right?
You pops sit back and plait your bull-whip, we’ll take care of this.
And at this point, we turn the amp up to eleven, throw in the cannibal zombie pigmies, the Anthartic Space Nazis and the Ten Kings of Atlantis4 – a supernatural menace, a classic, understandable evil returning, and an alien, ancient evil menacing everybody.
The plans go awry, the team is lost, technology is no answer, neither is firepower, stuff is happening that should not be.
And at this point…
Listen, Steve5, at this point we show ’em how an old man with a silly hat and a bull-whip is still the Name of Adventure. Because as soon as the pulp-meter hits eleven, Indy is back at the top of his game, a true master in his natural element. He may be short of breath and cranky, but he defeats the bad guys, defuses the mystical menace, saves the world and pulls the sexiest woman in the team (and maybe she’s over forty, because over-40 women can be gorgeous, and hold their own).
Let’s do it.
Let’s forget PG13 and the kids that want explosions, hip-hop music and boobs.
Let’s forget 3D and other gimmicks.
Let’s shoot it the same way Howard Hawks would have shot it.
Action, magic, adventure, ancient mystery, a bitter-sweet comedy, a powerful message, the lot bundled up in a Great Adventure Movie.
It can be done – you only have to acknowledge Indy’s (and Ford’s) age, realize that “audience identification” has nothing to do with age comparison, and get a good solid script.
No smart-ass sidekicks, no silly in-jokes, no comedy relief and winking at the punters.
Just serious fun – fun, that is, that takes itself seriously, that has not to make excuses for being… fun.
The Fifth Indy would make a cartload of money anyway, so why not take a bold stance and tell the kids to shut up and enjoy the movie or just piss off?
C’mon, Steve – call me, and let’s do a kick-ass movie about an old man who’s not ashamed of his age6.
After all, there’s no reason to be ashamed of one’s age, right?
- fifth? Did they really make a fourth movie that I missed? ↩
- check out The Last King of Scotland to get an idea… ↩
- yes, Michael Crichton was here before, with Congo, but first, he was ripping off Burroughs anyway, and second, that movie became boring as soon as Bruce Campbell was out of the plot. ↩
- and I know we already did Atlantis in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (great game, btw) – but if we are using Opar as a model, then this is a lost colony of Atlantis, so the fanboyz won’t come whining and waving their “Indy Expanded Universe Canon” at us. ↩
- do you mind if I call you Steve? You can call me Dave… ↩
- check out Bubba Ho-Tep for a kick-ass movie about old men. ↩