Harrison Ford has become synonymous with the character of Indiana Jones. The wise cracking adventure seeking archaeologist has become one of the most iconic characters in movie history. The first three films in the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade have been considered some of the best adventure films ever made. Steven Spielberg and Ford created something unique to the action-adventure genre and felt organic, raw, and exciting. It inspired future filmmakers and made them believe that adventure films can deliver awe-inspiring raw spectacle as well as exciting characterization.
The reputation of the franchise went downhill with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Fans were underwhelmed with the lackluster story and the infamous ‘nuking the fridge’ element of the film disappointed many people. The production of the film was itself hectic and chaotic and it led to the dismal quality of the film.
Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski Was Concerned With The Complex Action Sequences
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull had a lot to live up to since the three films that came before it were hugely beloved and respected by critics as well as audiences. Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford had grand ideas and hopes to take the franchise to a new level and push the envelope with the new film. But it seems the efforts to make it bigger and better than the previous installments became more demanding and concerning. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski told American Cinematographer,
“When I read the script, I was concerned with the amount of action; a lot of dialogue is delivered while the characters are fighting, kicking, riding motorcycles, and jumping from car to car, so I knew we’d be covering scenes for dialogue while actors were constantly on the move. There were very complex shots, and we were also shooting anamorphic, which complicated everything even more”
Kaminski talked about the pressure and responsibilities of living up to the legacy of the cinematographer of the previous three films Douglas Slocombe and the challenges of reinventing the style and look of an Indiana Jones movie for a whole new generation. Seeing the finished product, Kaminski’s contribution to the film was among the few bright spots of an otherwise underwhelming film.
Steven Spielberg Acknowledges The Poor Quality of Indiana Jones 4
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is considered the worst film in the franchise. It seems Steven Spielberg himself knew that the fourth film in the beloved Harrison Ford-led franchise was a huge step down from the previous three films. He seems to blame George Lucas for the absurd direction that the film went to. He said, (via Indiewire)
“I’m very happy with the movie. I always have been…I sympathize with people who didn’t like the MacGuffin because I never liked the MacGuffin. George and I had big arguments about the MacGuffin. I didn’t want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in – even if I don’t believe in it – I’m going to shoot the movie the way George envisaged it. I’ll add my own touches, I’ll bring my own cast in, I’ll shoot the way I want to shoot it, but I will always defer to George as the storyteller of the Indy series. I will never fight him on that.”
The reputation of the franchise sadly has deteriorated even more after the release of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny in 2023. Although it was considered a significant improvement over its predecessor, it became a huge box office bomb, unlike the previous installment. It resulted in Disney losing $100 million, which was (in huge part) due to its overblown budget of $300 million and a lack of interest in the franchise after the disappointing fourth installment.