Spielberg, Ford reunite for 5th Indiana Jones film

We’re going to be covering politics all night so might as well slip this breaking bit of movie news in before we get to that. Today, Disney announced a release date for Indiana Jones 5, which doesn’t have a real title yet but does have a 2019 release date:

Indiana Jones will return to the big screen on July 19, 2019, for a fifth epic adventure in the blockbuster series. Steven Spielberg, who directed all four previous films, will helm the as-yet-untitled project with star Harrison Ford reprising his iconic role. Franchise veterans Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall will produce.

“Indiana Jones is one of the greatest heroes in cinematic history, and we can’t wait to bring him back to the screen in 2019,” said Alan Horn, Chairman, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s rare to have such a perfect combination of director, producers, actor and role, and we couldn’t be more excited to embark on this adventure with Harrison and Steven.”

A little personal history: I still have a clear memory of reading an issue of Starlog magazine sometime in 1979 or 1980 in which I first learned that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were teaming up to make a movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark. At the time I didn’t know what the ark of the covenant was or why it was lost (my dad explained it to me later), but I knew that having the guy who made Jaws team up with the guy who made Star Wars sounded like the best thing that could possibly happen to a movie-loving kid.

For me, Raiders of the Lost Ark stands as one of the few movies that ever stood up to the pre-release hype. It wasn’t just good it was amazingly, incredibly good. And it wasn’t just kids who thought so. Years later (1998) it was ranked #60 on AFI’s list of 100 greatest American movies of all time. Needless to say, I was excited about seeing the sequels.

And then I saw the sequels.

Temple of Doom in 1984 was somehow both too camp and too dark. It also seemed to go too far when it came to already stretched plausibility. Somehow Indiana Jones strapping himself to a submarine mast didn’t bother me in the first film but his falling out of plane on a life raft (and then going over a cliff) really did. The Last Crusade in 1989 had some good moments with Sean Connery and a decent fight on a moving tank but overall it still lacked the charm of the original. Frankly, the less said about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull the better. The phrase “nuke the fridge” probably sums it up best.

All of that to say, I greet today’s announcement with a mixture of hope, nostalgia and dismay. I suppose it’s possible they could come back and get this right. Spielberg is still a great director and Ford was pretty good in the new Star Wars movie. So maybe this will be that rarest of 5th movies in a series that isn’t awful and forgettable. On the other hand, this could be another film like all three Star Wars prequels, Prometheus or the upcoming Blade Runner sequel (also starring Ford) which could only serve to tarnish good memories of the original.

Personally, I’m more excited to see the two movies Spielberg has coming before Indiana Jones 5. Next up is Roald Dahl’s BFG and after that Ready Player One, but it would be nice to pleasantly surprised.

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