Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie, and I love parts 2 and 3. Going to see Crystal Skull on opening night is probably the worst cinematic experience I’ve ever had. You could just feel the room deflate, all the energy disappear, the excitement turned to disappointment. I hated it.
However, time has been kinder than expected to the film. Maybe it’s comparing it to what passes for modern “adventure” filmmaking, but it’s sort of outdated style kind of works in its favor. There’s a lot of things that do work about it. Harrison Ford and the rest of the cast are game. Though it’s kind of a “left hand” movie from Spielberg, he’s still the greatest movie director of our lifetimes, so it’s still got some great visuals and action. The story could be intriguing.
My two main gripes with it:
- The modern CGI and cinematography isn’t very good, even for it’s time, and sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s just kind of ugly. It also doesn’t “feel” like Indy.
- There’s little sense of urgency in between the shooting and punching. Everything just sort of happens and crawls along until the next action scene.
There’s been some great fanedits of this, but a lot of them either remove more than I would like, or less than I would like. The focus is often on removing the things that, from a story perspective, “don’t work” as opposed to just making watching the film a fun time.
So I’ve decided to tackle the film myself. This will be a fairly light edit, I don’t intend on creating new effects or radically changing the story. I just want it to be a fun adventure with one of my favorite screen characters of all time
- Change the color/white balance to look more like the old films.
- New transition from the Paramount Logo to a newly created mountain shot. “Hound Dog!” plays from the beginning over it until we transition to the car.
- Cut Mac’s lines about betting on getting out of this.
- Cut “I meant drop dead comrade” and the punch that precedes it.
- Cut the line about “wubbalyoos”.
- Cut Spalko trying and failing to be psychic. This goes nowhere, and she never successfully does anything telepathic in the film so the whole concept is dropped.
- Cut some of the searching around the warehouse.
- We only see the hand of the alien for now, as an attempt at keeping some mystery.
- Cleaned up the Mac is a Bad Guy reveal.
- Made Indy start running quicker after shooting the guy in the foot.
- Cut Mac’s “You don’t know him!” bit.
- Removed a cutaway to Spalko and Mac getting in a truck.
- Trimmed a lot of silliness in Nuketown, Indy is now significantly more concerned.
- Cut a lot of the tumbling of the fridge, so it seems like he maybe could have survived.
- Cut the bit where they’re scrubbing the radiation off of Indy.
- Cut Mutt repeating “That’s my mother” so he only says it once.
- Sped up the gap between “knife” and “gunfight”
- Lots of trims to the crypt sequence to speed it up and get the story moving.
- Cut the bit where Indy tries to purloin a knife.
- Cut “saucer men from mars”
- Cut Ox dancing at the campfire.
- Trimmed Marion’s introduction so it’s more quippy and feels like banter from Raiders.
- Cut the snake being used as a rope. Mac and Spalko show up after Indy says “why the hell didn’t you make him finish school?!”
- Cut some of the back and forth in the back of the truck.
- Cut Indy slicing into his pants.
- Cut Marion grinning.
- Seriously trimmed up the jungle chase sequence to move faster and have less obviously silly moments.
- Some minor cuts to the ants scene for pacing and to remove unnecessary silly jokes (like Spalko crushing an ant with her knees)
- Only one waterfall, which is a combination of the three original ones.
- Some light trims to the end section of the movie for pacing and to remove unnecessary gags.
It’s running about 1hr 50min right now, which feels about right.
Like I said, a light edit. I’m not adding a prologue. I’m not removing the fridge (probably). It’s the same movie, just more entertaining.
I just started work on this today, but so far I’m seeing some good results.
Here’s some initial work on the two scenes I worked on today, the fridge scene and the jungle chase. Very far from final.
Most of the scene is unchanged, except there’s less silly bumbling around from Indy.
This has a lot of changes, but it’s really fun to edit. The big things missing are part of the sword fight, and Mutt in the trees. I think it’s funnier to have him sort of disappear and you forget about him until he saves the day. It also makes the gag of all the monkey’s showing up actually funny as opposed to a silly moment.