Friday, February 10, 2012

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes? That’s right, it was time for another Throwback Thursday at Essex Cinema and this weeks movie was Raiders of the Lost Ark. After seeing The Goonies on the 60-foot behemoth known as the T-Rex I really didn’t think it could get any better, but of course I was wrong. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a movie that I have a particular soft spot for. Not surprised? Well, you probably shouldn’t be. This masterly crafted film brought to us by the powerhouse team of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas was a throwback to film serials much like another widely loved Lucas film: Star Wars. To me it proves if you make a movie out of love of the subject rather than for profit the move will come out infinitely better. Don’t believe me? Check out Raiders of the Lost Ark and then compare it to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (I have to draw the compression, I’ll be making a point about it after the jump, stay tuned), two vastly different films by the same creators. But tonight wasn’t about what Spielberg and Lucas did wrong, it was about what they did right.

As a kid I remember growing up with Indiana Jones as one of the main staples of who my heroes were. I mean, this guy made archeology cool twelve years before paleontology took over as the coolest science on the block and that’s saying a lot. Indiana Jones wasn’t just a series of movies though, Indiana Jones was a character that Baby Kermit pretended to be on Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies (another childhood staple). He was a hero of video games I played like the bad Nintendo Game, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (based on the Raiders of the Lost Ark prequel) and the far superior Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (didn’t know they made this a playable extra on Wii Version of Indiana Jones and the staff of Kings, thanks Wikipedia now I have a purchase to make). And most importantly, he was the star of Disney’s MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios) Epic Stunt Spectacular. The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular opened August 25th 1989 (my first Walt Disney World experience was a mere two and a half years later). I clearly remember entering the Disney MGM Studios for the first time and being blown away by attractions like Star Tours, The Great Movie Ride and the Studio Backlot Tour (Catastrophe Canyon). I can remember climbing around on the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure and watching shows like Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3D and of course The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.
I had seen Raiders of the Lost Ark plenty of times (admittedly I’d probably seen Temple of Doom more) but nothing really prepared me to see the stunts performed live twenty feet in front of me. For an eleven year old it was awesome (okay it’s been awesome at every age I’ve seen it so far). Seeing Indi grab the golden idol and run from the giant boulder, or seeing him fight along side Marion on the streets of Cairo, or battle the giant Nazi mechanic underneath the spinning Luftwaffe plane was memorizing. Being so close to the explosions you can feel it in your chest was an experience I’d recommend to everyone. With that being said, now it’s time to explain the backstory (player two enters the game).
My wife, being a female and growing up in an all female household (she has three sisters), wasn’t always exposed to the same things I was (she had seen The Goonies so we were cool). One of these things she was never exposed to was Indiana Jones (shocking gasps). This was a fact I didn’t know when we first traveled to Walt Disney World in 2006 to celebrate our honeymoon and I brought her to see The Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. Little did I know that this, as well as the scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark used in The Great Movie ride, would be her first exposure to Indiana Jones. Thinking back on it though, she was also a giant fan of Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies so she was being exposed to Indiana Jones without knowing it.
Fast forward eight years later and we sat down to watch what would be the first Indiana Jones movie we would watch together and yes, unfortunately I’m referring to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (told you I’d tie it in). Now, being polar opposites on the Indiana Jones scale (me being an avid fan and her not really having any exposure) Kingdom of the Crystal Skull didn’t disappoint her as much as it did me, I mean she didn’t have anything to compare it to. I’m sure she could tell by the tears of frustration welling up in my eyes before I even opened my mouth, I had a different take on the film. I do have to mention on an important side note, when my father learned that the only Indiana Jones movie she had seen was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull he banned her from his home until she watched Raiders of the Lost Ark. And even though my Dad was only half serious, Jaclyn, thanks to the wonderful people at Essex Cinema, can now enter his home with her head held high because she has now seen Raiders of the Lost Ark in a way that everyone should, in the theater.
Seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark at last night’s Throwback Thursday on the T-Rex screen with Jaclyn meant a lot to me. It was an opportunity to share something amazing from my childhood with someone I love and an opportunity for me to see a classic film in a way I’d never gotten to see it: on the big screen. Growing up, I never thought my Indiana Jones experience would get any better than the Epic Stunt Spectacular, but seeing it last night the way it was meant to be seen, in a packed theater with the scent of popcorn teasing my nostrils and the sounds of excited gasps and shrieks of laughter feeling my ears, it was, well, to “borrow” a term from Disney’s Stunt Spectacular, Epic. I’m glad Jaclyn’s first Raiders experience could be in the theater. In fact, I’m a little jealous because now when she thinks back to just how cool the movie is or when we discuss it with friends, she’ll always get to say, “Raiders? Yeah, I saw it for the first time on a 60 foot screen.” And I’ll just get to smile silently and know it was all because of Throwback Thursdays.