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Patrick Schoenmaker

Indiana Jones' Influences
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Tales of the Gold Monkey
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DuckTales: The Movie

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TheRaider.net Research Indy's Influences Legacy National Treasure
 
National Treasure
 

Released by Walt Disney Pictures – 2004

Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Story by: Jim Kouf, Oren Aviv & Charles Segars
Screenplay by: Cormac Wibberley, Marianne Wibberley & Jim Kouf
Produced by: Jon Turteltaub, Michael Uslan, Benjamin Melniker & Jerry Bruckheimer

Starring:
Nicolas Cage .... Ben Gates
Diane Kruger .... Abigail Chase
Justin Bartha .... Riley Poole
Sean Bean .... Ian Howe
Jon Voight .... Patrick Gates

 

Over the years, the adventure film has been a cinematic mainstay. Musicals and Westerns had their day and faded. Gangster flicks and disaster films come in small waves and disappear just as quickly. The action film of the 1990s is still limping into the early 21st Century, but it’s a wheezing genre born from a trivial decade. The writer has no doubt that it will soon go the way of the beach party films of the 1950s.


Stealing the Declaration
of Independence.

The adventure film however, has endured and with every decade finds new life and reinvention. Sure, there was a brief lull in the 1970s, but the genre was resurrected with flare in 1981 with Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The adventure genre began in the silent films of Douglas Fairbanks, as he swashbuckled his way to rescue the princess and stop the evil tyrant in movies like
The Black Pirate. Films like Gunga Din and King Solomon’s Mines (which has been made into a movie four times) kept the adventure genre alive before the coming of Indiana Jones.
In the post-Indy decades, the adventure film has evolved beyond its serial, swashbuckling roots. The evolution has not been in the characters or in the quests, but the complexity of the plot, the technology, and the puzzles the heroes must solve. Some argue that this complexity is necessary due to a more sophisticated audience living in the now.


Deciphering a message.

This writer disagrees with that assessment. Why? The box office receipts from The Fast and the Furious have concretely concluded that audiences are not more sophisticated now than before. Still, at least films like National Treasure come into theatres to give the tepid cineplexes a breath of fresh, intelligent air.
This critic was extremely surprised that the film turned out to be as intelligent and well plotted as it was, given that it was another Jerry Bruckheimer vehicle. After
Pearl Harbor, anyone would be doubtful of this producer’s work.
The film follows the adventure of Ben Gates and his trusty techno-whiz sidekick Riley as they race to find the lost treasure of the Knights Templar before malignant forces get there first.


Hidden messages on
the Dollar bill.

In the classic traditions of Indiana Jones and his predecessors, Ben Gates looks in dusty books, wrinkled maps, faces the possibility of century-old conspiracies, and confronts the dangers left for him in ancient tombs by long-dead societies. With the help of Riley and the female ingénue Abigail Chase (a name probably ripped right out of the Indy-inspired Danger Girl comics), Gates follows the ancient clues, deciphers cryptic riddles, jets around the country to mysterious locales, breaks into tombs under churches, and opens secret doors with ancient keys.
Take out Ben Gates’ name and it’s exactly like Indiana Jones, right? Correct. That’s what makes this film great, with the only exception being the increased complexity of the puzzles and riddles, the sheer number of them, and of course the added technology of cell phones, computers, and all manner of sensors and devices.


Exploring a tomb.

To give any plot details is to give away the fun of the film, but Indy fans will enjoy the inclusion of Gates’ relationship with his father and the antagonistic relationship with Abigail as well as the dry humor of Riley. Gates deviates from Indy in one respect. Unlike Indy, Gates believes in what he is searching for from the first second of the film to the last. There is no disbelief in the treasure whereas Indy doubted the existence of the Grail or the magic of the Sankara Stones.

The action is great, the pacing is superb, and even if the ending is a little rushed, so be it. From the first frame to the last frame, it’s intelligent, witty, and inspired. Enjoy it Indy fans. (MF)

 

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