March 24, 2010

Indiana Jones V & Rampant Speculation

ENTERTAINMENT - You might be surprised by the number of archeologists who believe in aliens... or more precisely they believe there are too many coincidences between ancient cultures to suggest these cultures were as isolated as people think they were.

Case in point: Pyramids built in South America, Central America, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and China, sometimes built with the exact same building methods. ie. Temples in Elephantine Island (Egypt) and Tiahuanacu (Bolivia) built using the same copper-alloy holding the stones together in an earthquake-proof pattern.

The point I am getting at here is that archeologists like to speculate and when they see technological similarities between two cultures separated by thousands of miles they are forced to speculate as to why those cultures develop the same technology at the same time. Technology which oddly enough we modern humans still can't reproduce.

This speculation leads many archeologists down the path of fiction, trying to imagine how events could have transpired since the lack of empirical evidence suggests these ancient cultures had technology beyond our reckoning. We can't explain what happened with facts because there isn't enough evidence to support one theory over the other. Or worse, there is evidence, but its circumstantial or too unbelievable that it can't be proven (ie. ancient airplanes found in Brazil or ancient batteries found in Egypt).

Interesting Note: Context wise religions like Scientology (which believes aliens have visited earth many times in the past) have developed quite an interest in this branch of speculative archeology.

This is where Indiana Jones (or any other fictional archeologist) comes into play. We can try to explain events with magic (which we know could easily be explained as technology people couldn't understand at the time). The premise is simple... if we can't explain it with facts and evidence we are forced to explain it with speculative fiction and "magic".

The last Indiana Jones film (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) was just one of many fictional works that tied together the concepts of alien interference with human history. And it was quickly derided by the Christian right-wing who had become so used to seeing Christianity and "godly magic" as part of the central plots in the 1st and 3rd films.

And now the news... Indiana Jones is coming back for a 5th film, starring Harrison Ford and there is rampant speculation on what the plot might entail and which characters might be returning.

"The story for the new Indiana Jones is in the process of taking form," says Harrison Ford who is tight lipped about what the plot will entail.

Harrison Ford, director Steven Spielberg and creator George Lucas have "agreed on what the fifth adventure will concern," adding "George is actively at work" researching the plot/script for the 5th film. Ford has already signed a contract agreeing to make a 5th and a 6th Indiana Jones film insisting: "If the script is good, I'll be very happy to put the costume on again."

Producer Frank Marshall confirmed this in 2009 on his Twitter page with the post: "The story for Indy5 is progressing. It is still in the research phase."

Shia LaBeouf, who played Indiana's Jones' son Mutt (an inside joke since "Indiana" was the dog's name, and also referencing the fact he's a bastard child) in the 4th film has already admitted he will be returning for the 5th film, but won't say whether he will play a major role or just a single scene. Karen Allen, who plays Marion Ravenwood-Jones, is likewise expected to play a role.

Seeing how "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" broke box office records and has already earned more money than all three previous films combined the 5th and 6th installations will no doubt be a financial success.

And just to confirm this... Harrison Ford will be the star in all six films. There is no plans to replace him with Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) as the main character. It wouldn't be an "Indiana Jones" film if it was starring someone other than Harrison Ford.

According to George Lucas: "Indiana Jones is Indiana Jones. Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones. If it was Mutt Williams it would be 'Mutt Williams and the Search for Elvis' or something."

Shia LaBeouf also simply doesn't have the star drawing power Harrison Ford has and has had several run ins with law enforcement, bad press which the studio wants to distance itself from.

There is also a question of the villain. Some people (not us) have complained they didn't like the Russians in the 4th film, perhaps because they're so used to hating the Nazis from the 1st and 3rd films its hard to adjust to anything but Nazis, however since the time frame has changed its pretty much a necessity.

North Korea perhaps? Greedy capitalists in the USA? China? Russia again? Obviously Lucas, Spielberg and Ford will have to agree on who to pit Indiana Jones against.

One possible villain is the return of Lao Che, a villain from the 2nd film who didn't die. That or his son, which also didn't die. Indiana Jones failed in the 2nd film to get the Eye of the Peacock diamond from Lao Che, a legendary diamond which had once belonged to Alexander the Great, a diamond Jones has been looking for ever since the end of WWI.

In such a scenario it might be only a bit role for Lao Che (or his son) since the diamond isn't really that important and is just a loose end from an older story.

"The process works like this... We come to some basic agreement and then George goes away for a long time and works on it," says Harrison Ford. "Then Steven and I get it in some form, some embryonic form. Then if we like it we start working with George on it and at some point down the line it's ready and we do it."

There is even speculation Sean Connery might play a role in a prelude scene (Indiana Jones' father is supposed to have died by the 4th film, but this doesn't mean they can't backtrack a bit and show a flashback moment). Connery turned down a role in the 4th film because he was so busy enjoying retirement / promoting the Scottish National Party.

There is even a bit of speculation that Sean Patrick Flanery (who played Indiana Jones in the TV series) might play a prelude or flashback scene as a younger Indiana Jones, just like River Phoenix did in the 3rd film (prior to the actor's death).

There is also Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan is now an actor / stunt coordinator / tae kwon do expert), Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Harold Oxley (John Hurt) who could make appearances.

However there is one problem... I call it the Anti George Lucas Backlash Effect. Essentially what it is is obsessed fans who are so stuck in their ways they refuse to acknowledge the fact that characters change over time. In the case of Indiana Jones they get older (because the actor has gotten older) and unlike James Bond who has had many different actors portraying him Harrison Ford is expected to continue playing him for another 2 films which means we will get to see him age more so...

Interesting Note: In the Indiana Jones Chronicles TV series the old Indiana Jones is portrayed as having an eyepatch, suggesting there is a story behind that. Will Indy lose an eye in the 5th or 6th films? Maybe. Or maybe that doesn't happen until he's much older and is the result of health problems. Lets suppose Indiana Jones' does lose an eye in one of the films, will the overtly obsessed stubborn fans complain about it? Damn right they will.

But I want to point out something more interesting. These obsessed fans are the same ones who watch the film in the theatre 3-4 times. They're utter hypocrites because while they might diss George Lucas and what he's changed about their beloved character they still love the character so much it doesn't matter as long as the film is spectacularly good.

So regardless of alien pyramids, communists or nazis under the bed (or Lao Che?), whether its a Christian plot or not, who is in the film and who is not there is always going to be hypocrites who try to backlash against the film but are secretly the film's biggest fans.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull grows on you and I have no doubt in the combined abilities of Lucas, Spielberg and Ford to weed out the bad ideas and replace it with the kind of quality pulp fiction we've come to expect from Indiana Jones. True, it stretches the limits sometimes with "magic" and technology, but that is the whole point.

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