Eve Of The War

Raiders of the Lost Ark
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Author:  oever532 [ Thu Sep 22, 2005 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Raiders of the Lost Ark

Who liked that movie with Indiana Jones? It's my personal favorite. I liked the special effects of how Belloq, that Gestapo guy (with the glasses) and that German leader met their end when they opened the Ark. I liked the special effects. Who else did?

Author:  uber Fenris [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:41 pm ]
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The success of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) lead to the inevitable copycat movies and rip-offs, the best known being High Road to China (1983) with Tom Selleck (ironically the original choice to play Indiana Jones) as a WWI veteran pilot escorting heiress Bess Armstrong through the Middle East and Asia on a quest to find her explorer father; the TV series Tales of the Gold Monkey in which freelance flyer Stephen Collins indulged in assorted hi-jinks on a chain of Pacific islands in the 1930s; and two awfully tacky movies, shot back-to-back, with Richard Chamberlain as Allan Quartermain - King Solomon's Mines (1985) and Allan Quartermain and the City of Gold (1986).

My favourite of these Raider wannabies is Sky Pirates (1986), an Australian movie that bravely tries to match the thrills and spills of it's Hollywood counterparts on a fraction of their budget. You can't accuse the producers of lacking ambition.

The plot makes use of various New Age conspiracy theories concerning the Bermuda Triangle, the Philadelphia Experiment and the Chariot of the Gods. Aussie ace pilot Flight Lieutenant Harris (John Hargreaves) is transporting a top secret cargo in August 1945. However, when a crew member tries to sneak a look at what they're carrying, all hell breaks loose, as - in the film's best sequence - the plane plunges into another dimension, where past, present and future all intersect (a fact cleverly illustrated by having the radio operator pick up wireless traffic about the assassination of JFK, the first moon landing, and a Mayday call from the Titanic, plus Harris having a near miss with a modern-day jet fighter). The plane ditches in a sea full of half-sunken ships from various time periods, and the survivors catch a glimpse of Easter Island before being instantly transported back to their original location and rescued.

Back in Oz, Hargreaves finds his superior officer, Squadron Leader Savage, refuses to back his version of events, and is court-marshalled. Discovering that Savage is intent on recovering the cargo - part of a stone tablet left on Earth eons ago by alien visitors - and uniting it with the other pieces to gain godlike power, Hargreaves escapes from army custody and tries to foil Savage's scheme.

Compared to the average Hollywood studio picture, Sky Pirates was made on the cheap, but that's not say that money hasn't been spent: good use is made of vintage aircraft, there's some splendid location filming on the real Easter Island, and several large scale action setpieces. The best of these has Harris climbing out onto the wing of an airborne DC3 to repair an engine while under fire from a pursuing Mustang fighter, and a truck chase that is copied wholesale from Raiders while using some nice Mad Max visual flourishes.

Sky Pirates wears it's references with pride. The aforementioned truck chase may not be as spectacular as the one in Raiders, but it's just as enjoyable. There's also a fight in a sleazy tavern, but at Ayers Rock as opposed to Raiders' Tibet. And if you don't spot the Jaws homage, then shame on you. But before we start to accuse this film of being totally unoriginal, don't forget that every aspect of the Indiana Jones movies was openly taken from the cliffhanger serials of the 1930s and 40s, and Sky Pirates succeeds in capturing that same pulp feel.

There are some problems: the personal animosity displayed between Harris and Savage at the beginning of the film is never explained, and Savage's motives for suddenly trying to seize the tablet fragments - and his plans once he has them - are also not revealed. However, the most disappointing aspect of the movie is the way it peters out with a rushed and anticlimatic non-ending, which strongly suggests that the production ran out of time and/or money. A great pity.

As for the cast, Hargreaves's performance seesaws between being wooden and extremely engaging, but ultimately he succeeds in making Harris a likeable hero. Essentially, he is the movie, as the other characters are all functionary and underwritten. That said, Meredith Phillips has her moments as feisty sidekick Mitch, exactly the kind of girl you'd want to tag along while trying to save the world.

Author:  oever532 [ Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:44 pm ]
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Okay, nice info. What was your fav scene in Raiders itself?

Author:  uber Fenris [ Sat Oct 01, 2005 4:16 pm ]
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oever532 wrote:
Okay, nice info. What was your fav scene in Raiders itself?

Sorry, but I'm not a fan of Raiders, or any of the Indiana Jones movies.

I consider The Rocketeer (1991), The Shadow (1994), The Phantom (1995), Radioland Murders (1995) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) to be far more enjoyable examples of 1930s period adventure movies.

Author:  oever532 [ Sat Oct 01, 2005 6:21 pm ]
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Oh, I see. Have you ever seen it (just asking)?

Author:  uber Fenris [ Thu Oct 06, 2005 10:21 pm ]
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I've seen all the Indiana Jones movies. I just don't like them. I realise I'm very much in the minority, but that's my opinion.

Author:  oever532 [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:19 am ]
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Of course. Everyone has his/her own taste...

Author:  Loz [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:47 am ]
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I love Raiders of the Lost Ark and that bit where they melt in particular. great SFX great adventure, good comedy, fantastic sets and action. And anything about the Ark of the Covenent gets me going. I love the bit in the tomb with the snakes and when all the dead bodies fall on them. When they look at the picture of the Ark with the lightning bolts coming out is great too, as the music really brings the picture to life.

Author:  oever532 [ Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:06 am ]
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I liked those scenes, too, I liked the entire movie! :D

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