Indiana Jones & Die Hard: A Shared History
4240 8 8.71. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ar... (1981)
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK & DIE HARD
-The originals. These films are masterpieces in all ways possible. In characters, writing, etc. They were the films that introduced Jones and McClane to the world. Both films are at the top of their genres, those genres being those of adventure and action respectively. They also manage to find a perfect balance between action and humor. To this day films still take influence from them, and though many are admirable none can compare to these films. Examples being The Mummy series, the National Treasure movies, and The Librarian films for Indiana Jones; and the Speed films, the two Under Siege movies, and The Rock for Die Hard.
On a storyline note both feature the lead hero re-uniting with a past love (Marion and Holly) who they had a falling out with and through the events of these films get back together with them. Unfortunately for them though both sets fall out once again offscreen later between films.
I'd also like to note, that at least in personal opinion, they have two of the best straight up fist fights put on film. Not too flashy (which I think works in the favor of both), but very straightforward and brutal. Of course I'm sure you've figured out that they are Indiana vs. The German Mechanic, and McClane vs. Karl. Why not also mention for fun some other (somehwat) similar scenes. Towards the beginnings of both films there is a scene where Indiana and McClane are in airplanes and we are first introduced to a fear that each possesses. Snakes for Indy and flying for John. Both also two of the funniest shooting death scenes. In RAIDERS it is obviously Indy taking out the Cairo Swordsman, and in DIE HARD it's Marco's death. Both show that if you have a gun and are faced with an enemy don't hesistate to shoot 'em down. Lastly we get to see both leading women, Marion and Holly, throw a good puch at one point or another. Marion slugging Indy, and Holly punching Thornburg.
Also, both propelled their stars Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis into superstardom and put them into (possibly) their most iconic roles. Roles as more human heroes than some of the more unstoppable killing machines of the age like characters played by people like Schwarzennegger, Stallone, and Van Damme. Both are very human with character flaws, a cynical sense of humor, and use of their wits to defeat their enemies.
Definitely two of my favorite, nay, two of the GREATEST films ever made. The fan communities, critics, and general audience all seem to agree on this.
IN SHORT: They are highly entertaining masterpieces that helped re-define their genres and introduced us to two of films greatest heroes and icons.
2009 6.7 7.12. Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990)
TEMPLE OF DOOM & DIE HARD 2
-The second installments of the franchises (though not necessarily within the films' story chronology as one is a prequel and the other a sequel to their predecessors). Upon release both got mixed reviews from critics and audiences. Both are tonally darker than their predecessors (in fact probably the darkest ones of their respective series'), with more showcases of extreme and even at times gratuitous violence with some disturbing/gruesome images. Examples being seeing children being forced into slave labor and hearts being torn out, as well as seeing an icicle stabbed into a person's eye, seeing a man sucked into a jet turbine with the aftermath, and a plane being crashed on a runway to prove a point.
Unlike the slick and more charismatic lead villains of the first films (Rene Belloq & Hans Gruber), the villains in these were more and the most ruthless antagonists of either franchise. (Not to mention the fact that they're also the only main villains that we see physically combat Jones and McClane). Them being Mola Ram and Col. Stuart. (And if you've seen my Top 10 Underrated Movie Villains list you know that both of them are on there). Both are fantastic antagonists who because of their despicable atrocities are so easy to love to hate. Interestingly there is also a plot twist concerning two characters (Chattar Lal and Major Grant) who at first appear to present themselves as allies to Indy and McClane but are later revealed to be villains. Lal kindly welcomed them into Pankot Palace and showing Indy and the gang hospitality by offering food and shelter. Major Grant was sent to Dulles to help take care of the takeover situation and congratulated McClane for his efforts. Indy and McClane spent some time with them developing rather tense relationships with them as they did things to get on their nerves. Lal is taken back and gets defensive when Indy persists on the reports from the village about the Thuggee cult. When McClane continues to act in freelance about the takeover situation when he tries to capture Ramon Esperanza he is eventually berated by Grant for his reckless actions. Both however are revealed to be in league with the villains. Lal being a minion of Mola Ram and member of the Thuggee cult, and Major Grant and his team being in on the conspiracy to free Ramon Esperanza with Col. Stuart and his men.
It is also worth noting that these films are probably the most unrealistic/over-the-top of the original three for both franchises. And at times are pretty goofy, at least in comparison with their predecessors. And while I do love these films haters who warrant certain criticisms towards the fourth films in the franchises really needs to take another look at these films. Temple of Doom opens with a dance number at Club Obi-Wan in Shanghai (complete with female lead Willie Scott winking at the audience) as well as going backstage to dance to our knowledge for no known audience. There is also the scene where Indiana Jones and Company jump out of a plane in a life raft while it's inflating and manage to slide down a mountain and through rapids to end up safely on steady water. (And nuking the fridge was a problem). Another scene has Indy and company manage to run from a large torrent of water filling a tunnel, and later during the mine cart chase where they manage to jump a mine cart over a chasm at a very high speed and it lands perfectly on the rails on the other side. On the goofy side many of Willie's exploits like the camping and elephant scenes, as well as her reactions to the dinner scenes were pretty goofy. Things like this can be found in Die Hard 2. Take the idea of the planes just circling over Dulles Airport. In real life they'd just fly to another airport much earlier on since Dulles in real life wouldn't have been the only airport within range. There is also the scene where John McClane confronts Ramon Esperanza in his transport plane and winds up trapped in the cockpit. To try and finish him Stuart and his men unload all of their gernades on him, and he manages to narrowly escape by using the plane's ejector seat with the explosion following closely behind (with the gernades taking an interestingly long time to go off). There is also the scene where three guys can fight on a plane wing during a powerful snow storm just fine, when in real life from what I know it would be difficult alone in keeping their balance. There's also the very stylized marching scene at the beginning of the film where two by two Col. Stuart's men exit their rooms as he passes them as if Stuart had it choreographed. A lot of DH2 is self-refrential with near winking at the audience moments which makes it feel a bit goofier. Interestingly also both feature a giagantic fiery plane explosion (Lao Che's plane in the himalays/Windsor plane on the runway) despite the fact that both were either out of or running extremely low on fuel.
But here's the thing. These films are so innately enjoyable and fun to watch it is easy to except things like these. And even though they are a bit over-the-top and goofy at times that doesn't mean they can't be taken seriously at all. These are usually the least popular films with general audiences. Temple of Doom for it's darker tone and some disgusting scenes (like the dinner scene), and Die Hard 2 for often being deemed too much of a retread of the original's plot (terrorists take over a place over Christmas). But within the main fan bases they are held in high esteem Usually in the third place ranks (which is where I rank them as well). Although in recent years there's been a surgence of some that say they believe these to be the second best as they have taken new issue with the third films (LAST CRUSADE for being lighter in tone and softer than the previous two, and WITH A VENGEANCE for straying from the "Die Hard" formula). Sadly though, some of the main people involved with these ones have gone on to say that they don't particularly like them. Steven Spielberg said this about Temple of Doom (despite saying that he was happy to meet his wife Kate Capshaw through it), and Bruce Willis had said the same about Die Hard 2.
On a similar scenes note both feature a fistfight on a conveyor belt ending with a villain getting crushed at the belt's end. In TEMPLE it was Indy's fight with the Chief Thuggee Guard, and in DIE HARD 2 it is towards the end of the first fight in the baggage transfer area.
It's also interesting to note that they have the least popular, or usually considered the least popular, sidekicks within them. Many found Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott, and to an extent Short Round, to be annoying. While in Die Hard 2 airport tower worker Leslie Barnes and janitor Marvin are generally seen as being forgettable, and to an extent annoying. I didn't really have any issues with any of them myself though, but I do think that they were the weakest of the sidekicks.
They weren't as groundbreaking as their predecessors, but they like them are just pure fun cinema escapism at its finest.
IN SHORT: Darker and noticeably goofier films than their predecessors that while initially divided audiences have found greater acceptance as the years have gone by.
3751 7.7 8.33. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
THE LAST CRUSADE & DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE
-Five years after the last films the third installments were released. Like the second installments these films had mixed receptions from critics upon original release, but generally positive from the fans and general audience. Both are lighter in tone than their immediate predecessors and are generally hailed as the second best installments of their respective franchises, only topped by the originals, by fans and generally audiences alike. An opinion I'd have to agree with.
Both feature villains who act as throwbacks to the German antagonists from the original films. The Nazis returned to the Indiana Jones series and Hans Gruber's brother Simon acts as McClane's enemy in Die Hard With A Vengeance. Their plans are also very similar to the schemes from the original films. Like in Raiders the Nazis seek an Abrahamic religious artifact. This time the Holy Grail, and like last time they wanted to use it to help in their quest for world domination. Both times the Nazis had a foreigner as an ally who also wanted the artifacts. In RAIDERS it was the French archaeologist Rene Belloq, and in CRUSADE it was the American industrialist Walter Donovan. Simon's plan like Hans' was a heist in disguise. Hans' heist was made to look a like a plan to free political/radical terrorist prisoners. He also tried to use a mysterious explosion to cover his tracks. Similarly Simon's plan to rob the Federal Reserve's gold involved him pretending to blow up the gold to "even the playing field" of the wealth of the world and also saying that a "Man in the Middle East" would see it as profitable, thus making it look like another political agenda on both counts. But he pretended to blow up the gold only to keep it for himself and his men. Both however had a new twist to them. As for the first time in their series' both villains deliberately brought Indy and McClane into the adventures as part of their plans. Donovan brought in Indy to help find the second marker with an inscription to aid in the finding of the Holy Grail. Simon brought McClane into his plot by pretending that his agenda was a scheme of revenge against McClane (adding an extra initial layer of deception), but really used it as a diversion from his true intentions to rob the Federal Reserve.
Also of note are the sidekicks in these films. Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr. in Last Crusade, and Samuel L. Jackson as Zeus Carver in Die Hard. They are generally two of the most popular with fans, and with good reason. Both have great chemistry and tension with the lead protagonists, and there are great scenes of well written and funny dialogue between both sets. And the fact that they're played by very likable/popular actors helps as well. Both very much were buddy films. Both sidekicks are very intelligent, and are key in solving puzzles that plague the heroes within the films. Also shown throughout was how unprepared for dangerous combat situations as they face dangerous circumstances they wouldn't have dreamed of. This later however doesn't stop them from disregarding the lead's advice to stay out of danger and take it upon themselves to try and be heroes late in the films, but despite their efforts fail and are captured. Indy had told Henry to stay in hiding, but instead he went into the Nazi's tank to try and rescue Marcus Brody, though is caught by Col Vogel. Similarly when John and Zeus split up on the ship, John told him to come and get him if he found Simon and to not try and be a hero. When Zeus finds Simon he ignores this and confronts him and winds up getting shot and taken hostage. As mentioned earlier both initially had tense relationships as Henry Jones Sr. had distanced himself from his son when he was young and Zeus had racist feelings towards all "white men". Towards the end though both develop stronger bonds shown in scenes where we see how much the sidekicks have come to care for them. In LAST CRUSADE it is the scene when we see Henry Jones Sr.'s reaction when he thinks that Indy was killed when the Nazi tank went over the edge of a cliff and he thought Indy had gone with it. Henry began to sob and show remorse for how he had treated his son and when he found out he was alive greeted him with a loving embrace. For Zeus it was when he and McClane were trapped on the ship towards the end of the movie and they were both tied together and Zeus managed to pick the cuffs binding McClane. He drops the pick and as time runs out before the bomb on the ship blows. As McClane tries to find a way to get Zeus free, Zeus insists he leaves him behind to save his own life. Though John ignores it and they both escape together, and while on that note why not mention that both films also feature a scene with both sets tied back to back and after escaping narrowly evade a fiery death. Anyway both sets seemed a lot closer by the ends of the films. Indy and Henry Jones Sr seemed to finally have a true familial bond while John and Zeus became friends. John and Zeus seemed to be friends by the end of WITH A VENGEANCE and according to the alternate ending John mentions that Zeus' kids had made the honor roll, seeming to suggest that they had kept in contact after their adventure. Oh and both sidekicks get shot towards the ends of the films by a lead villain. Henry by Walter Donovan in the Grail Temple and Zeus by Simon Gruber on the ship. Might as well mention that with how far you've seen me take all these comparisons.
While not as prominent as in the following films, it is in these films that Indiana and McClane really start showing signs of their aging.
All in all great films, and as I said earlier I find them to be the second best installments of their respective series'. What many people still call classic trilogies came to end. (Despite the fact to be fair, they aren't really trilogies in the technical sense as all can act as standalone films) But these wouldn't be the finales forever.
IN SHORT: Our heroes return with familiar adversaries, a fun compelling sidekick, and a spirit that ultimately feels closer (and still the closest) to the originals in installments often considered a step up from their respective Part 2's.
1973 6.8 7.34. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL & LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD
-Talks of fourth chapters to these legendary film franchises had circulated for a long time with a lot of hype building over the years, and both finally arrived after more than a decade of waiting. Both for the most part were well received, but left large groups of fans disappointed. But I'll get into that later.
As said earlier both took more than a decade to make. (In Indy's case it took almost two) And that time span is applied to the stories of both films. We see the heroes much older and wearier than ever before, past their prime, surrounded by a changing world, appearing out of date, and are at the point "Where life stops giving you things and starts taking them away". Though in McClane's case it is apparent that is happened much earlier than in Indiana's case. Heck, he even seemed to be heading that way in With A Vengeance. Anyway, and though their ages aren't ignored, they're still able to be the cool heroes that we've always loved them for being.
An interesting note is how also both heroes' children are featured in (at least somewhat) prominent roles. Henry "Mutt" Williams/Jones and Lucy Gennaro/McClane. Though Indy and Mutt don't know it until mid-way through the film. Indiana and McClane were estranged from them/kept out of their lives, but in the end manage to reconcile with them, and in Indiana's case he also managed to reconcile with Marion. Life essentially finally giving them something again.
The main sidekicks have had mixed receptions, and often compete with the sidekicks of the second installments at who is the least popular. I thought both were good though, and prefer them to the Part 2 sidekicks. They had good comradery with Jones and McClane. Both are younger men who were young rebels of new times that Indiana and McClane must adjust into. Mutt Williams was a greaser which was a big movement that had grown large in the 1950's, while Matt Farrell (wait a minute MuTT and MaTT!) is a computer nerd/hacker representing a world where computers and technology are king. Both at first work with the Indiana and McClane out of necessity but eventually are good with them. And in personality they just seem to remind me of each other.
The villains were also updated to match the new eras. The Soviets were the natural choice of enemy for Crystal Skull in the Cold War setting as they were the big enemy at the time and the Red Scare was looming over. It was interesting to see them reference the psychic studies of the Soviets, as that was true to history. In modern days a new type of crime known as cyberterrorism has been growing, so it was interesting to explore in Live Free or Die Hard. The villains of both films have generally been considered to be inferior to the villains of the original sets of movies. They're my least favorites as well.
Now an interesting point is both of their receptions between the mainstream and fans. While the twos are the least popular with the general audiences for the most part (or at least from who I've talked to), these films are the least popular with the fans for a few reasons. First off they return to the more over-the-top natures that were in the second installments. They admittedly even at times surpass the second installments in this regard and there is one scene in each film that epitomizes it. In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it is obviously the nuking-the-fridge scene where Indiana climbs into a refrigerator to escape from a nuclear blast and climbs out battered but not injured too badly. The equivalent to that scene in Live Free or Die Hard is the scene towards the end where the villain Thomas Gabriel sicks a fighter jet onto the truck McClane is driving, leading it to chasing him on the highway and McClane eventually jumping onto the plane's back and then off of it and he narrowly escapes it from crashing into him. There are other less extreme scenes of that nature as well in those films. For example the monkey/vine swinging and waterfall scenes in Crystal Skull, and the scene where a Terminator action figure collectible is accidentally shot during a shootout and by chance manages to land on a button that detonates a bomb and takes out the heroes' attacker and the scene where McClane crashes a car into the villain Mai Linh (played by Maggie Q) and it crashes into an elevator shaft where she manages to continue the fight.
Even more complaints are levied against both for featuring drastic changes to the franchise formulas. In Crystal Skull's case it was the use of aliens. Adding a sci-fi element into what had always been a fantasy/mystical driven series. While I at first didn't know how to react to that plot twist I now actually like it. Why you may ask. Because it is one I didn't see coming and provided something new to the franchise. And it made sense since as the first three were set in the 1930's and were based on the genre of that time (Adventure Serials) this one was set in the 50's and the big genre of the time was sci-fi. Especially ones with aliens. But even though they took sci-fi elements, it wasn't turned into a science fiction story. It was still told like a serial adventure Indy wasn't doing anything like repelling an alien invasion from Mars. (In a similar vein to how DOOM took on elements of horror without it being a full on horror story). Die Hard's case was that the film was edited down to get a PG-13 rating when released in theaters, though there was an Unrated Version released on DVD with more blood and profanity at an R rated level. Many purists looked negatively on these aspects and basically writ off the films for them. And I'm not saying it's bad if you don't like them, but I always felt that these films still delivered on being terrific entertainment. And that's the most important thing with both series'. There have been other smaller complaints such as Indiana never shooting a gun (though technically he does get to fire a rocket launcher for the first time in the series) and McClane not getting to swear as much or smoke, but those aren't brought up too often.
On a similar scenes note two infiltration scenes seem very similar to me in both. In Crystal Skull I'm referring to the scene where Col. Dovchenko leads Irina Spalko's men into Hangar 51 disguised as US soldiers. The Die Hard equivalent is when Mai Linh leads Thomas Gabriel's men into the utilities station disguised as FBI agents. As both groups are turned away they wipe out all of those who went out to meet them and proceeded with their goals. Maybe that's nit-picking but at this point does it really matter? Not saying anyone ripped off the other though, but I think it's an interesting/cool coincidence. Plus there's been scenes like that in other films. And why not mention the fact that it is both Dovchenko and Mai who give Indiana and McClane a good thrashing later on in the films before being taken out in rather brutal fashions.
I am a huge fan of both franchises (would a casual viewer have done something like this?) and I'll admit that these are my least favorite installments (well they and the second parts alternate at times), though I still love them and think they're great films. Both are definitely worthy additions to their franchises and top-notch fun.
IN SHORT: After a long absence our heroes return older and wearier in a new age. Things are a bit different this time around and at times may challenge reality a bit much, leading to much controversy with fans, but overall are considered worthy returns.
75 7.3 05. Indiana Jones 5
Both franchises are planned to continue with two more installments each. And you can bet that I'll be comparing them as we see the great Indiana Jones and John McClane return again.
For those who think they're getting too old remember these words...
"It's not the years, it's the mileage."
So for now this list is
TO BE CONTINUED...
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