Raiders At 40: Behind The Boulder

Aside from nazi face-melting, shooting an overly confident swordsman, an awesome truck chase and a hidden room full of snakes. Raiders had one of the most iconic scenes in any film ever. Of course, I’m talking about the boulder chase scene from the opening. Right here, I’m going to take a look at some of the behind the scenes info on that very classic scene and the whole opening part of Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as explore just where the idea came from. Just in case you need a reminder…

I love the entire opening to Raiders of the Lost Ark. The mysterious (and cool) way that Indy is introduced for the first time, the many traps the hidden Peruvian temple, the spiders and that golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Alfred Molina doing that nervous finger rubbing thing as Indy attempts to swap his bag of sand for the idol. Those opening few minutes are brilliantly crafted and set up the character of Indiana Jones perfectly. Then, of course, it all leads up to that awesome boulder chase. I still remember watching that for the first time as a kid, holding my breath, excited and worried that Indy wouldn’t make it. Yeah I know it’s obvious that the main character of the film wouldn’t die in the opening 10 minutes, but 7-year-old me didn’t understand that back then.


I think that the entire opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark could be one of the finest movie introductions ever made. The way it creates a mystery and introduces Indiana Jones is perfect. You know exactly the kind of character he is and you understand him instantly, all from that mini-movie opening. Re-watching the film (several times) for this whole multi-part celebration, I got to thinking just how the whole scene came about. Digging through interviews and making of documentaries, I unearthed some really interesting titbits that I’d like to share with you guys.


That iconic, and now, Indy franchise staple opening shot where the Paramount logo turns into a mountain was a last-minute idea. Steven Spielberg sent producer, Frank Marshall all over the island of Kauai, Hawaii where they were filming at the time, in search of the perfect mountain peak. Marshall had to not only find the right mountain, but also photo it from every possible angle, so Spielberg could pick his favourite and match it to the Paramount logo. Something that would be done with CGI these days. Also, those opening few moments of Indy and his men walking through the jungle and up to finding the hidden temple were shot in ten different locations around Hawaii. Ten locations just for the opening 2-3 minutes of the film. The temple itself was filmed in Elstree Studios, London… Only 7,280 miles away from Hawaii.

You know Barranca, the guy who pulls a gun on Indy, for Indy to then whip the gun out of his hand, before making his brilliant (out of the shadows) first appearance? Well originally, that was written to be much more violent and graphic. Instead of just whipping the gun away, Barranca was supposed to become entangled in the whip, with his own gun pointing at his head. Indy then jerked the whip, for the gun to go off, making Barranca shoot himself in the head. Pretty brutal stuff and it kind of made Indy look like a bit of a ruthless murderer. The scene was changed for the better I feel. But, what is it with Harrison Ford being made to look like a cold-blooded killer in George Lucas flicks, for the scene to be changed later? 


The part when Indy and Satipo (Alfred Molina) are in the temple and Satipo gets covered in spiders was originally a bit dull. The spider wrangler used all male spiders and they just sat on Molina, motionless. Spielberg became increasingly annoyed as the real spiders looked very fake on film. So, Spielberg spoke to the wrangler and asked if there was anything that could be done to entice the spiders to move. There was, the wrangler added a female spider to the mix and well…

“Suddenly all hell breaks loose. They’re running onto my face and Steven is going, ‘Shoot! Shoot! … Alfred, look scared!’ and I’m all, ‘I’m scared! I’m scared!’”

– Alfred Molina

On his way to the famed golden Chachapoyan Fertility Idol, Indy was supposed to take other treasures from the temple. I don’t know if the scene was shot and then cut or not, but it’s not in the film, yet it was in the script. Also, when Indy gets back to America and Marshall College, Indy does give those other treasures he stole to Marcus Brody, as shown in the film. So he did take them then.

Speaking of the golden idol, it features a very hard to see effect in the film. The idol has eyes that actually watch and follow Indy as he approaches the plinth and takes it. The eyes worked via an internal mechanism which were moved using a radio control. The following images show the internal workings of the idol and Spielberg himself operating the radio control to move the eyes. If you go back and re-watch that scene, you can just about see the eyes move…. very, very slightly. Easier to spot in the 4K remaster.



The famed boulder itself was originally much bigger. Envisioned to being sixty-five feet wide, it was downscaled to twenty-two feet and made of fibreglass. Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he extend the scene too. Originally, it was just going to roll down the ramp, Indy ran away and the boulder gets stuck immediately after. Spielberg not only extend the scene so Indy had to run further, but also made the ramp that the boulder rolls down about fifty feet longer, just to give it more screen time. Plus, that really is Harrison Ford outrunning the boulder too, he did most of his own stunts in the flick… And he had to do that particular running away from the boulder scene ten times. The scene was not only shot twice, but it was shot twice from five different camera angles. With each camera angle shot done separately, equalling ten different times Ford had to run away. 

“He won ten times and beat the odds. He was lucky and I was an idiot for letting him try.”

– Steven Spielberg

Also, the boulder was originally going to crush Indy’s iconic hat. In the original script, the hat comes off as Indy is running away for the boulder, with no time to get it back, Indy keeps running and the boulder rolls over his hat, then Indy was going to be in the rest of the film hatless. Spielberg disliked Indy losing his hat, especially in the opening few minutes, so he suggested that they let Indy keep his now trademark fedora. Just think, if it had not been for Spielberg, then Indy would never have been known as ‘the man with the hat’ and he would’ve lost one of his most famous pieces of apparel before it became so iconic.


And finally, for perhaps, the most surprising things about the opening scene of Raiders and even Indy himself. It/he was inspired by a cartoon duck. Now, Indy was born from many different inspirations when George Lucas came up with the idea for the character. 1930s matinée serials and and pulp magazines. Real archaeologists such as Hiram Bingham, Roy Chapman Andrews, and Sir Leonard Woolley… And a little bit of James Bond too. However, one of the biggest inspirations was Scrooge McDuck, uncle of Donald Duck. See, when Carl Barks created Scrooge in 1947, he was seen as a bit of an adventurer himself. One such adventure, from The Seven Cities of Cibola story, published in 1954, shows just where George Lucas got the idea from.


There’s the idol itself. Not gold, but made of emerald in the Scrooge McDuck story. Oh, and it is also noted that it is booby-trapped and that moving the idol will trigger the trap… Which would unleash a giant boulder. Thankfully, Scrooge releases the danger and the idol is left in place, so the giant boulder trap isn’t triggered. Saving everyone involved. Then…


The Beagle Boys (Scrooge McDuck’s nemesis) turn up and take the idol for themselves. Of course, the booby trap is triggered and the giant boulder is unleashed, rolling through the temple as The Beagle Boys make a run for it. So there you go, one of the greatest scenes in a film was inspired by a Disney character… Kind of strange now that Disney owns the Indiana Jones IP and is now (technically) a Disney character himself. There are other Scrooge McDuck adventures that also inspired George Lucas. The 1959 comic, The Prize of Pizarro, for instance. In this one, Scrooge, Donald and those annoying kids have to get through a booby-trapped hall that shoots arrows/spears at them, before they are chased away by natives…


In fact, if you go and look at some of those old Scrooge McDuck adventure comics, there are loads of scenes that have clearly been ‘borrowed’ for Indy. I don’t just mean Raiders of the Lost Ark either. All of the Indy films have clearly been using Scrooge McDuck and his adventures as an inspiration for decades now.

Phew, this has been a pretty big celebration of Raiders of the Lost Ark reaching its 40th anniversary, but there’s still more to come. Next, I tackle a rather ‘risqué’ question that seems to crop up about Indy as a character every now and then… Is Indiana Jones a paedophile?

Raiders At 40: The Future Of Indiana Jones?

As I write this right now, a new Indiana Jones film is in production and currently filming. I’m a massive Indy fan, so much so that I’m one of the few that, despite its problems, I actually enjoyed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Yet, even I just can’t get excited or even slightly interested in this new film. I guess I could break out plenty of jokes about Harrison Ford being too old, etc. But when the 78-year-old (as of writing) actor is fitter and more active than the 44-year-old me writing this article, I’m really not in a position to suggest he’s too old to play the character.


Yes, that is old Indiana Jones. No, it is not Harrison Ford. That is George Hall playing a 93-year-old Indy from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. That’s the key thing about Dr Jones, he’s not like James Bond who magically regenerates every few years and keeps going for decades. Indy grows old and eventually dies. You can’t have someone else step in and play the character, it has to be Harrison Ford… Or a stand-in and CGI technology to make it look like Ford.

Anyway, even though I liked the film, I can still admit that Crystal Skull had numerous problems. But an aged Ford playing Dr Jones wasn’t one of them as he was still fantastic in the role. What was a problem for me was the year the film was set, that being 1957. There’s just something about Indy that feels like it should be set no later than the 1940s. Despite my enjoying Crystal Skull, I really had a problem with it being in the fifties, and the late fifties too. I mean, given the over a decade gap between flicks (fourteen years from Crystal Skull to Indy 5’s suggested 2022 release), this means the new one would have to be set in the early seventies… and that’s way too late for an Indiana Jones film. Maybe they could get away with a late sixties setting (there have been rumours it’ll use the 1969 moon landing as a backdrop)? Either way, that just doesn’t sit right with me for an Indiana Jones adventure. So, I thought I’d pitch an idea of how to keep the Indy film franchise going, all while keeping well away from a more modern setting.


De-ageing. Everyone is going crazy for de-ageing technology these days. From an older Robert Downey Jr. appearing younger as Tony Stark in the Marvel flicks, to (a then) late fifties Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem being back in 1988 in Coming 2 America. But let’s not mention the terrible de-ageing of Jeff Bridges in Tron Legacy. De-ageing tech is really quite impressive these days and any actor/character can now become any age they want. So why not a younger Indiana Jones back in his prime? In fact, I’m going to call it now that Indy 5 will use de-ageing. Perhaps not for the whole flick, but I’m willing to bet that a younger, prime-aged, circa Last Crusade era Dr Jones will be in the film, a flashback, the traditional mini-movie opening or something. I bet we will see a younger Indy in the film.

Anyway, using a de-aged Harrison Ford, there’s plenty to work with. Indy has an existence outside of the films you know. He has an entire history of adventures that he’s been on in his life. They could even make a movie about Indy’s relationship with Abner Ravenwood, and his lack of relationship with his own father. The long rumoured and very vague romantic involvement with Marion. It could work as a direct prequel to Raiders and show just how Indy helped Abner to find the headpiece to the Staff of Ra. 

Take a look at Indiana Jones in video games too, there are several games that are considered canon with the character. Adventures that have never been on the big screen. There are novels and comic books that could be used as a source. There’s even Indiana Jones theme park rides and attractions with stories not based on the films that could be explored. They could de-age Harrison Ford and put him in several ‘unseen’ Indy adventures, all keeping within the timeframe of when the character was in his prime too. Take a look at my previous article where I explored Indy sequels that never got made. Those are just some of the scripts and story ideas, there could be more unused scripts that are not known about. Seriously, there’s loads of ideas that could last years. Just as an example, the adventure game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is often considered one of Indy’s greatest adventures. Yet it has never been made into a film. It could though. A big-screen version of Fate of Atlantis could be amazing and Indy could still be age-appropriate too. I’d personally love to see Indiana Jones and Sophia Hapgood on the big screen.


Speaking of games, It’s quite surprising there haven’t been more. I know that there’s a new Indy game coming from Bethesda and Machine games… Coming when is anyone’s guess. It could be years away yet. But why haven’t there been more Indy games? Before this new title was announced, the last ‘proper’ Indiana Jones game was Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues from 2009. As I write this, it is the summer of 2021. That’s twelve years without a real Indy game. Again, there’s a rich history of the character that could be explored in video games and yet, that’s just not happening. Indiana Jones really could have a deep and long-lasting history, even after Indy 5 is released next year. It’s a shame that the character is not being used as much as it could be.

There’s still more to come with my Raiders at 40 celebrations. Next up, I take a look at perhaps, the most famous Raiders of the Lost Ark scene. I’m talking giant boulder action.

Raiders At 40: Indy Rip-Offs

This is the third article of my celebrations of Raiders of the Lost Ark reaching 40-years-old this month. In this one, I’m going to take a look at some Indiana Jones rip-offs, good and bad.

Whenever a piece of entertainment proves popular and profitable, others always jump on the bandwagon to try and cash in on that popularity. Raiders was no different and after its huge success back in 1981, plenty of movie studios began to churn out their own Indy-esque flicks, with varying degrees of quality. Films with the chiselled and rugged hero, travelling the world in search of some artefact or person. Usually having to deal with ancient, trap-filled temples/tombs/ruins. Often with some kind of period setting too. All while dragging a damsel in distress lass along for the ride. Some of these rip-offs were really quite subtle with just how much they were trying to copy Raiders of the Lost Ark and its template, others not so subtle…


Anyway, subtle or not, I’m just going to take a quick look at some well known and not so well known Raiders rip-offs of varying quality. For the first one, I’m going for a flick with a bit of an interesting link to Raiders of the Lost Ark outside of the borrowing of its style.

High Road to China (1983)


Aside from this film’s alternate title (Raiders of the End of the World) that was most definitely trying to ride on the coattails of success that was Raiders of the Lost Ark, it also has Tom Selleck in his first major starring film role. Of course, Indy fans will know that, after a screen test, Selleck was originally offered the role of Indiana Jones. However, he had already done the pilot episode for the TV show Magnum P.I. for the CBS network and was contracted to the show, the network just would not let him play Indy. As Selleck himself explained in an interview in 2017:

“After I did the pilot for Magnum, I tested for Indiana Jones and got the job. Steven [Spielberg] and George [Lucas] offered me the job. And I said, ‘Well, I’ve done this pilot’. And they said, ‘Thanks for telling us. Most actors wouldn’t do that, but we got cards to play with CBS’. Turned out, CBS wouldn’t let me do it. They held the offer out for about a month. Harrison Ford hates to hear this. Harrison, this is your role, and you’re indelible in it; it’s just an interesting story. I signed a deal for Magnum, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m proud that I lived up to my contract.”

A quick aside. Tom Selleck even did a parody of Raiders in Magnum P.I. in the Legend of the Lost Art episode from 1988. And I’ve really gone off track here, I’m supposed to be talking about High Road to China. Set in the 1920s and Patrick O’Malley (Tom Selleck) is a flying ace, who is hired by Eve Tozer (Bess Armstrong) to help find her missing father. The two fly through six countries to get to China, where Eve’s father is located. Along the way, the duo get up to all sorts of shenanigans before they have to face an evil Chinese warlord. High Road to China is a very okay-ish kind of film. It most definitely has that Indiana Jones feel to it, even without any artefact hunting. While not as entertaining as Raiders, it’s still a watchable romp with some decent action and a few laughs too.

The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak (1984)

No, I didn’t just make that title up and yes, this film really does exist. Telling the story of Gwendoline (Tawny Kitaen), who is captured, but rescued by Willard (Brent Huff), a mercenary-adventurer. Gwendoline is in search of a rare butterfly that her father once tried to find. When Gwendoline’s maid is kidnapped, she hires Willard to help get her back, as well as seek out that rare butterfly.

Look, the plot of this flick is nonsensical and the film is really a very softcore porn version of Indiana Jones. It’s a low-budget French production that involves cannibal tribes and bondage… Though not at the same time. The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak is bizarre guff with a bit of nudity thrown in. A stupid slice of balderdash with a bit of blood and plenty of boobs. A fun and completely unnecessary watch.  

Romancing the Stone (1984)


Directed by the awesome Robert Zemeckis is this rather great action-adventure flick. Romance novelist, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is forced to travel to Colombia when her sister is kidnapped. Joan has to deliver a map that tells the location of an enormous emerald as the ransom for her sister’s release. While in the jungles of Cambodia, Joan (literally) crashes into Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas) and the two work together to get the emerald themselves before delivering the map and freeing Joan’s sister. Of course, things don’t go according to plan and there’s plenty of comedic action along the way. 

Romancing the Stone is quite honestly a great film. It manages to capture that Indiana Jones flavour, but do its own thing along the way too. With a tight and often amusing plot, some good action sequences and a really believable bit of on-screen chemistry between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. Plus, the film even manages to make a believable action hero out of Douglas too. The sequel, The Jewel of the Nile was not as good as the first film but still worth checking out for more Raiders-like fun. 

The Goonies (1985)

I think it would be rather remiss of me not to give this flick a mention. Truth be told… I’m not much of a fan of The Goonies. Yeah I know, that’s kind of blasphemous as a fan of these flicks and a kid who grew up in the eighties. Learning that their homes will soon be foreclosed, a small group of kids who call themselves The Goonies, find themselves going on an action-packed adventure after discovering a treasure map. The map tells of a fortune that once belonged to a 17th-century pirate, One-Eyed Willy. However, The Goonies are not the only ones looking for the treasure as a family of criminals, the Fratellis want the loot for themselves.

There’s a very good reason why this feels very Indiana Jones, that reason is Steven Spielberg, who wrote the story and was executive producer on the film too. The Goonies really is a more kiddy version of Indiana Jones and it has that distinct Spielberg feel through the entire flick. I may not be a big fan of The Goonies, but I sure do respect and appreciate it for what it is.

King Solomon’s Mines (1985)


Allan Quatermain (Richard Chamberlain) is the Indiana Jones of the flick, and he’s hired by Jesse Huston (Sharon Stone). It seems that Jesse’s father has gone missing while on an expedition to find the fabled King Solomon’s Mines. It turns out that Professor Huston has been kidnapped by the German military who are also in search of the legendary mines, wanting to unearth their secrets.

This Raiders rip off makes no bones about what it is. Quite often making fun of and referencing Indiana Jones directly several times. It even features John Rhys-Davies who played Indy’s old friend, Sallah in the Indy films. As for its quality as a film… It is pretty dire, to be honest. But I think it falls into one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ type of flicks. It’s cheesy, badly acted and the story is unbelievably bland too. Sharon Stone is truly awful in this, it’s hard to believe that she would go on to be nominated for an Oscar… Eleven years later… And for a very different film.

Also, this is actually a remake, a second remake too. Based on the 1885 novel of the same name, the first version came out in 1937 and another in 1950. The 1950 version is actually a pretty decent watch. Oh, and the 1985 version even had a sequel released the following year. Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold was filmed back to back with the first film. It too is fucking awful with both Richard Chamberlain and Sharon Stone returning. A quick aside, the 1950 version of this film was actually one of the main influences behind the creation of Indiana Jones. So can I honestly claim this remake is a Raiders rip off when an earlier version of the film is what helped create the film it is ripping off? Yes I can because this is my blog and I can say what I like.

Armour of God (1986)

This is really a melding of two cinematic heroes. Of course, this is very Indiana Jones-esque, but there’s a good slice of James Bond thrown in too. Asian Hawk (Jackie Chan) is a treasure hunter who is hired by an old friend to help in the safe return of his kidnapped girlfriend. An evil religious cult are the ones who have kidnapped the fair maiden and they have two pieces of a legendary armour called the Armour of God. Asian Hawk must bring the remaining three pieces of the armour to complete the set and the cult will let their captor go. 

When  it comes to films that are clearly inspired by the Indiana Jones template, they don’t really get much better than Armour of God. I’ve been a fan of Jackie Chan for many years, long before he became such a huge star. I was brought up watching martial arts flicks and I got to see this one as a kid. Easily one of the best film in Jackie’s rather impressive career. Full of that trademark Jackie Chan humour, action and stunt work. Speaking of which, Jackie almost killed himself in this film when shooting a stunt where he had to jump from the top of a wall to a tree. The tree branch broke and Jackie fell five meters, cracking his head on a rock. To this day, he has a hole in his head after undergoing eight hours of surgery. The sequel, Armour of God II: Operation Condor is also worth checking out.

Firewalker (1986)

From one martial arts legend to another. This one sees Max Donigan (Chuck Norris) and Leo Porter (Louis Gossett Jr.) as two veteran treasure hunters. When a psychic gives them a map that is said to show the way to a massive stockpile of gold, the duo can’t help but go in search of it. Of course, they are not alone in the hunt for riches as someone or something else is after the loot too, something the psychic calls a red cyclops.

This one is played for straight-up laughs, it’s a comedy first and an action-adventure flick second. It was the first time that Chuck Norris had tried a non-serious role and makes fun of his tough-guy action persona in the film many times. And yes, it directly parodies Raiders too. Even John Rhys-Davies pops up in the flick, he must’ve made a career out of being in Indy rip-offs. As for the film itself, if I were to tell you that it’s brilliant, I’m sure you’d know I was lying. Firewalker is utter pants, but if you go in knowing that it is a crappy Indy clone with very little effort put into it, you might get some enjoyment out of its terribleness. I mean, this is a Cannon Group flick and they were famed for cheap and nasty, low-budget dreck. It is cheesy Chuck Norris guff, but still has a few laughs along the way.

Big Trouble in Little China (1986)


“Just remember what ol’ Jack Burton does when the earthquakes, and the poison arrows fall from the sky, and the pillars of Heaven shake. Yeah, Jack Burton just looks that big ol’ storm right square in the eye and he says, ‘Give me your best shot, pal. I can take it’.”

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a fast-talking and blusterous truck driver/wannabe hero. When his friend Wang Chi’s (Dennis Dun) green-eyed fiancée is kidnapped by mysterious bandits, the two set out to get her back. They soon find themselves being dragged into a strange underworld of Chinatown in San Francisco, where face off against an ancient sorcerer, David Lo Pan (James Hong). It is this sorcerer who has captured Wang’s girl as he needs a woman with green eyes to marry to life a curse.

I fucking love this flick, I’d even put it up there as one of the greatest films ever made. John Carpenter is one of my favourite writer/directors, I’ve always had a soft spot for Kurt Russell and back in the eighties, I loved kung-fu flicks. Big Trouble in Little China combines all of that into the Indiana Jones mould and throws in some supernatural elements that feel very much at home too. This really is a crazy cocktail of a film, and one that was lambasted by critics when it was released. Big Trouble in Little China was a massive flop, as all John Carpenter flicks were when originally released. But it has since gone on to have a very strong and cult following over the years. I have always said that there are two kinds of people in the world, people who enjoy Big Trouble in Little China and think that it is amazing… And then  there are people who are wrong.

“When some wild-eyed, eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favourite head up against the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks you if ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, and you remember what ol’ Jack Burton always says at a time like that: ‘Have ya paid your dues, Jack?’ ‘Yes sir, the check is in the mail’.”

The Further Adventures of Tennessee Buck (1988)

Here we have Tennessee Buck (David Keith) the Indy rip off for this film. In this one, two shallow, blonde, rich socialites, Kent (Brant von Hoffman) and Barbara (Kathy Shower) are on a river tour in the jungle of Borneo. Kent is on the lookout for a rare tiger to hunt. Things go wrong when their tour guide is killed by an elephant. Barbara almost goes the same way too, until Tennessee Buck turns up and saves her life. Tennessee is then hired by the couple to take them further into the dangerous jungle so they can continue their tour. So, of course, various jungle-based misadventures ensue.

Like the previously mentioned The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak, this too is a comedic romp with a touch of nudity. It does feature Kathy Shower, an ex-Playboy model, so of course, there are boobies in this one. Like The Perils of Gwendoline, it’s also a load of old guff. While there are some okay-ish moments in this one, it’s just a mess of a film that doesn’t really seem to know where it is going or what it wants to do. If you want some crap jokes, low-budget action and titties, then this is the flick for you.

The Mummy (1999)


For my final pick, I’m gonna jump to the end of the century with this rather decent remake of a Universal Studios horror classic. Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) is a rough and ready adventurer. When Rick crosses paths with Evelyn and Jonathan Carnahan ( Rachel Weisz, and John Hannah), who are in possession of a map that leads them to Hamunaptra, Egypt. Rick is hired as a guide to take them to the city, where they discover the remains of Imhotep, an ancient mummy. Then things just go very wrong from that point on.

Whereas the original 1932 The Mummy was very much scary/horror focused, this remake leans more toward the action-adventure style and is very evocative of the Indiana Jones flicks. It’s a pretty damn good flick in its own right too. It is funny when it needs to be, well-acted and Brendan Fraser is very believable as an Indy-type too. The Mummy went on to become a pretty successful franchise with sequels and spin-offs, even roller coasters

Now, there were a few more films I could mention. Obviously, the likes of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) and National Treasure (2004) series’ should be given a shout out. Then there’s the far lesser-known Librarian trilogy, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines and The Librarian: The Curse of the Judas Chalice (2004 – 2008), which are all very, very reminiscent of the Indy flicks. They’re utter crap, but still very obvious Raiders rip-offs.


Anyway, I need to move on as I have more articles to write for my Raiders at 40 celebrations. Next up, I take a look at several Indiana Jones sequels that we never got.

Raiders At 40: Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Plot Hole

Continuing my Raiders at 40 celebrations this month, and I’m going to look at a (so called) major plot hole that the film has. This plot hole actually gained some traction a few years back thanks to the not very amusing The Big Bang Theory TV show. However, I actually heard of this goof long before The Big Bang Theory existed. For those not in the know, here’s the plot hole in question:

So basically, people like to claim that Indy had no impact on the resolve of the film at all and that the character was completely pointless in his own movie. Even without Indy, the Nazis would found the Ark, took it to the island and opened it. Ergo, all the Nazis would’ve died even if Indy had just stayed at home and put his feet up. Honestly, loads of sites have brought this plot hole up for a few years now, ever since it was mentioned in The Big Bang Theory. So, Dr Jones was completely irrelevant in his own flick right?

Well no, just as with most of the writing on The Big Bang Theory, it’s utter arse gravy with no thought applied to it. Before I do destroy this so called plot hole, like a Nazi having his face melted and head exploded, I just want to bring up a little incidental of the whole film, Marion Ravenwood.

So, let’s just say that, when Indy was asked to go find the Ark of the Covenant, he turned the offer down and went home instead. The Nazis turn up at Marion’s place in Nepal to obtain Abner’s headpiece for the staff, she gets a bit headstrong (as shown in the film) and the Nazis get rough. No Indy there to save her, Marion dies. Is that not a worthy reason to be in the film? The fact Indy saves Marion’s life?


Other sites and blogs have also brought up the fact Indy saves Marion’s life. But even that’s not 100% accurate. I mean, how did the Nazis know about Marion, how did they know about her very remote bar in Nepal in South Asia… The biggest continent on the planet, how did they know she had the headpiece that would tell them where to Ark was buried? The answer to that actually renders the entire plot hole redundant and proves how things wouldn’t have been the same if Indy wasn’t in the film. It all has to do with a very brief, but important scene. When Indy gets on the plane to Nepal and he travels by (now iconic) map… He’s not alone.


Someone is following him, it’s not actually explained who this mysterious person is. Some assume it is Gestapo agent Major Arnold Ernst Toht (Ronald Lacey) due to the glasses… But it’s not. The character is an unnamed spy played by Dennis Muren, a special effects artist on the film. As an added bit of trivia, Dennis Muren has won more special effects Oscars than any other person ever. Plus, when put side by side, you can tell that Thot and the spy are not the same actor/character. They are just both wearing a hat and glasses.


So, who is this spy and why are they following Indy? Well, what if he’s a Nazi, a Nazi who reports back to Major Toht when they land in Nepal? Then when in Nepal, Thot and his men follow Indy to Marion’s bar. Indy goes in, talks to Marion while the Nazis wait outside, perhaps even eavesdrop on their conversation. Indy leaves the bar, the Nazis enter, and the film plays out as it does. See, the Nazis only knew about Marion, her bar and that she had the headpiece because of Indy, because he was followed. So without Indy, the Nazis would never have found the headpiece, never found the Ark, never would’ve opened it, never would’ve had their faces melted. My conclusion is that Indy wasn’t irrelevant in his own film and no, the Nazis wouldn’t have opened to Ark without him as they never would’ve found it without him to begin with. Not a plot hole.

Before I move onto more proof that this is not a plot hole. I do know that the Nazis were aware of Abner Ravenwood (Marion’s father), because of a telegram that US intercepted from the Nazis about Abner and the headpiece is mentioned in the film. However, there’s no mention of them knowing who Marion is, or that she possibly had the headpiece they needed. Plus, that telegram states that Abner was in the US… He wasn’t, he was in Nepal. So the info the Nazis had on Abner was vastly out of date. Also as I’ve already mentioned, Marion had a very remote bar in Nepal in the biggest continent on Earth. What are the chances of the Nazis just stumbling on the bar and Marion? So for me, it makes sense that the Nazis had Indy followed.

Still, there is nothing in the flick that says the guy following Indy is actually a Nazi. He could be working for the American government and just on the plane to ensure that Indy is doing what he said he would. I only offered a possible theory there, using what is in the film. You have to admit that it is open to who the spy following Indy is and that it is possible he was working for the Nazis. But even if you want to throw that theory out, I’ve got the main nail to put in the coffin of this ‘plot hole’, *he claims with an knowing and sly Indy-like smirk on his face*… 


Removing my explanation, this isn’t even a plot hole anyway. A plot hole is a very specific thing and one can write off any film ever made and create a non-existent plot hole by simply removing the good (or bad) guy from the story. I mean, I could create a ‘plot hole’ in King Kong by saying that, if Carl Denham hadn’t hired Ann Darrow and taken her to Skull Island, then Kong would never have ended up in New York and caused such a ruckus… Plot hole! No, that’s purposely creating an issue, to then find a plot hole within the false narrative that you yourself have just created.

As I said, a plot hole is something very specific. A plot hole is a gap or an inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of the movie’s logic, established by the film’s plot. However, the plot of the film has the American government hire Indy to go after the Ark and bring it to US soil. So then, he is essential to the flick because THAT’S THE PLOT.


Here’s a bit of dialogue between Marcus and Indy about going after the Ark, after Marcus speaks to the American government:

Marcus Brody: “They want you to go for it. They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do, and they’re prepared to pay handsomely for it.”

Indiana Jones: “And the museum, the museum gets the Ark when were finished?”

Marcus Brody: “Well yes.”

Just to repeat a line of dialogue there… “They want you to get hold of the Ark before the Naizs do”. Aside from the government screwing Indy over at the end and not giving it to the museum, he was being paid to find the Ark, before the Nazis and bring it to the US. If Indy had just said ‘no’ after being asked to find the Ark, went home and put his feet up… Then there never would’ve been a plot hole because there wouldn’t be a plot.

A plot hole (as an example) would be establishing that early in the film, that the Nazis could not be killed by the Ark… For the Ark to then kill them at the end with no explanation as to why. Removing Indy from the film is not a plot hole because Indy is the plot, the driving force of the whole film. As already covered, Indy was hired to find and retrieve the Ark, to then bring it back to the US… Which he did do. The killing of Nazis was not his job, that was not what the American government tasked him to do. So if we say that Indy being in the film or not made no difference because the Nazis would have opened the ark anyway if Indy wasn’t in the film, forget about the Nazis finding and opening it. The main plot point is that the Ark never would’ve been brought to US soil without Indy. The melting of Nazi faces is completely irrelevant, that’s just an added bonus, with or without Indy.


So no, this whole Indy is irrelevant in his own flick is not a plot hole, and nor is he irrelevant. More a case of people not understanding what a plot hole is, or not being able to grasp the fact that Indy was not hired to kill Nazis. He was hired to bring the Ark to the US, which he did do. Without him, that never would’ve happened. So that kind of makes him pretty central to the plot eh? Can we now put an end to all this ‘Indy is irrelevant in his own film’ bollocks now then?

More articles to come in my Raiders at 40 celebrations and next, some Raiders rip offs of varying quality over the years.

Raiders At 40: An Indiana Jones Games Retrospective

On the 12th of June 1981, the world was introduced to Indiana Jones. This month marks forty years since Raiders of the Lost Ark was originally released in cinemas and so, I’m doing a huge, multi-article celebration to mark this anniversary. Through June, I’ll be publishing a different Indiana Jones article exploring various aspects of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones in general.

The year following the release of Raiders, and the first Indiana Jones game was unleashed. For the first part of my (huge) Raiders at 40 celebrations, I’m going to take a look at every Indy (that’s Indy, not indie) game released. I’m setting myself a handful of rules though. Official Indy games only, no Facebook or mobile tappy-tap games, no Young Indiana Jones titles either (though there will be a quick mention of these at the end). The games don’t have to have been based on the movies, they just have to star adult Henry Walton Jones Jr. No fan-made games, officially licenced Indy games only. Looking at my list and notes… There’s a lot more than I originally thought. This is gonna be a big ‘un, so I’m just glossing over the games and not going into too much depth. I’ll post links to YouTube playthroughs of the games, if I can find them, so you can see as many of the games in action as possible. Just give the main titles a clicky-click. An advanced thanks to any YouTubers I link to.

And with that out of the way, here is my Indiana Jones games retrospective.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)


As previously mentioned, Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Atari 2600 was the first-ever Indiana Jones video game. Some even say it was the very first movie tie-in game too… though I have doubts over that claim (read my new gaming book for more details). Anyway, Raiders was really quite revolutionary at the time as games back then were just about getting a high score. But Raiders of the Lost Ark actually had an ending to reach. It very loosely followed the plot of the film and had you playing as Indy trying to find the Ark of the Covenant. Full of puzzles to solve and really got you thinking like Indy himself. A true revolution in terms of gameplay back in the day and the grandfather of action-adventure games.

Indiana Jones in the Lost Kingdom (1985)

Even though the next film in the franchise was released in 1984, an entirely new and original game was released before the one based on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom hit shop shelves. Released on the Commodore 64, this one told the story of Indy having to try to retrieve an artefact to unlock the mysteries of the civilization that once lived in the titular lost kingdom. Set over six different rooms, each with its own set of very tricky puzzles to solve. Notoriously hard and massively unfair. The box proudly boasted on the front that: ‘Nobody told Indiana Jones the rules. And no one will tell you’. You know what, that box wasn’t lying either. The game came with no instructions, no hints, no rules,… Nothing. You just had to play and work it all out as you went. You had to use logic to solve each of the rooms and their puzzles, a bit like Indy I guess?

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985)


This arcade hit only used the finale of the film for its action. Split over three different gameplay styles/levels.  First up, you have to save the enslaved children while whipping the crap out of Thuggee guards and snakes in a multi-directional scrolling stage. Next, it’s the famed minecart chase from the flick. Using an isometric viewpoint, as Indy, you have to navigate the mine track while smacking bad guys with your whip. Then it’s on to the final stage where you have to grab one of the Sankara Stones. Repeat this three times, increasing in difficulty every time, and the fourth playthrough sends you to a bonus stage set on the bridge from the flick. This one was simple but really fun arcade action that saw a lot of ports to pretty much every popular machine at the time. The NES version added a few bells and whistles, but also removed a lot of the arcade gameplay due to the limitations of the NES console.

Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients (1987)

Released on the Apple II computer and MS-DOS, this game featured box art that used images from the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom flick, but had nothing to do with the film at all. This one was a text-based adventure game No graphics here, just pure text from start to end. If you like black screens and a lot of white text, then this is the game for you. When done well, text-adventure games can be really damn great, see Zork as proof. Indiana Jones in Revenge of the Ancients is very, very, very ‘meh’ at best. These text games were quick and cheap to make, which is why there were so many of them back in the early eighties… Only this wasn’t the early eighties. For a game from 1987, this felt very dated. Perhaps that was the Revenge of the Ancients that the title alluded to?

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game (1989-1992)

Things are going to get a little confusing now as there were multiple games released based on the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade flick… yet several of them were very different. I’m starting with this action game which was released on pretty much every 8 and 16-bit console and home computer over several years. Set over only four levels, which are loosely based on scenes from the film. Starting out as young Indy trying to obtain the Cross of Coronado as a boy scout. The game then jumps to the Venetian catacombs where older Indy searches for Sir Richard’s tomb, from there, Indy has to climb Castle Brunwald in Germany… That’s not two different levels by the way. You go from Venice to Germany via a simple bit of rope climbing in one level. The third stage has Indy onboard a zeppelin trying to find pages of the grail diary before escaping. Then it’s on to the final level in the Grail Temple as Indy tries to nab the Holy Grail. Overall, this was a very average action-platformer with some pretty large difficulty spikes.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure (1989-1992)


The second game based on the third film in the franchise, only this is no average action-platformer, this is Lucasfilm Games point ‘n click adventure greatness. Once more, this was released on multiple platforms over a few years. Following the film very closely, but also throwing in a bit of creative license too. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Graphic Adventure is just sublime. Lucasfilm Games were kings of the point ‘n click adventure games and this was one of their finest. This featured multiple different paths you could take and different endings too. You could follow the film really damn closely, even using exact dialogue from the flick, but you could also take a slightly different route and experience things not seen in the film too. One of the best point ‘n click games as well as one of the finest Indy titles.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1991)

Supposedly released in 1991 according to all sources, but the credits screen for the game states 1990. Anyway, this is the third game based on the third movie. Just like the first one, this too is an all-action title, but only released on the NES. It’s also very different from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Action Game, as in it’s actually pretty good. Following the film far more closely than that other action game. Featuring pretty decent cutscenes (for the NES) with the likenesses of the actors from the film. Plus multiple choices to make in terms of the levels for which order you play them in.  A very short game with only four stages, with a mix of platforming action and some (very) light puzzle solving. This is not as great as the previous point ‘n click adventure game, but it’s a damn sight better than the action game though.

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: The Action Game (1992)

At the time, it looked like there would be no more Indy films. But while his cinematic adventures seemingly came to an end, Indiana Jones still had plenty of life in video games in the guise of all-new adventures. This one was an isometric thing that involved a lot of walking around while punching and whipping people in the face. I’m not sure why this was called an ‘action game’ when it featured less action than previous action games. This one is bad, really, really bad. So bad that most Indy fans have long forgotten about it or just blacked it out from their memory. It can’t get any worse, can it?

Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis (1992)


Oh yeah, there was another one. Same title, same year… same shit? Thankfully no. This was another one of those classic point ‘n click adventure games. But not just another point ‘n click adventure game. The greatest, most sublime, fantastic, beautifully crafted point ‘n click adventure game ever made. With three different paths to follow that takes you on three varying routes through the game, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis is the absolute pinnacle of the graphic adventure genre. The game met with massive critical acclaim too, garnering 90+% and 9/10 scores from reputable gaming magazines. For me, this is the best Indy game ever made. Wonderful characters, a brilliant plot, three different routes to take and most importantly, it feels very Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures (1994)

Taking all three of the then Indiana Jones trilogy flicks, and balling them all up into one game. Platforming action, mixed with a little bit of vehicle usage and even a smattering of puzzle-solving. Then all linked via, digitised from the films, cutscenes. This is one of the best platformers on the SNES, all of the major scenes from all three of the flicks are represented and represented really well too. Famed for being devilishly hard but it really is one of the best Indiana Jones games of its time. Very much recommended as a wonderful slice of 16-bit platforming action.

Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures (1996)


There were a couple of these ‘Desktop Adventures’ games, the other one was based around Yoda from Star Wars. Anyway, this was the first one and it was a cute little distraction of a game. Everything was randomly generated each time you played, and the game boasted that there were ‘literally billions of games’ contained in this one title. Each adventure would last around an hour or so and they were crammed with puzzles, characters and more to discover. Aimed to be played when on a break from work, etc, much like other desktop games such as Solitaire or Minesweeper. Very much aimed at a more casual gamer, Indiana Jones and his Desktop Adventures was a great little distraction.

Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine (1999)

The Tomb Raider series that catapulted Lara Croft into the gaming limelight was massive in the late nineties. A lot of studios wanted to get in on that popularity and Tomb Raider clones began to appear. Even LucasArts wanted a slice of that Tomb Raider pie when they made this game. Of course, the fact that Tomb Raider was massively inspired by Indiana Jones in the first place kind of makes things come full circle. But yeah, this is basically Tomb Raider with Indiana Jones, it’s an okay game, above average at best. Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine feels a little clunky at times and some of the platforming elements feel a bit janky. Still, it is worth a play.

Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb (2003)


More third-person, Tomb Raider-like action again. This one plays far superior to the previous Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine though. Indy controls better and far smoother, there are more moves and interactions, the levels are less blocky and more interesting. Really, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is rather good all told. It feels very Indiana Jones, it respects the franchise and its fans. The whole game feels and sounds very authentic too. Plus there’s a really good fight mechanic where you can kick bad guys in the nards.

Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (2008)

I really do love these Lego games. I know they are all basically the same thing but with a different IP, yet I still find them really damn playable. This one covers the first three films of the franchise, all done with a brilliant sense of humour. Famed scenes from the films are re-created using the Lego models and given a new, funny spin. With a tonne of secrets and characters to unlock, there’s a lot of game here to enjoy and a lot of fun in two-player too.

Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings (2009)

This was another one of those Tomb Raider-like titles, a very average one at that too. Indiana Jones and the Staff of Kings had multiple different ports and all of them had slight differences. While the basic gameplay and story was the same, each of the ports had a few little differences. The ‘best’ version of the game was on the Nintendo Wii, not because it was a great port but just because it included the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis graphic adventure as a bonus. A far better game given as a bonus in a very average one.

Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues (2009)


Yes, the Lego blocks are back and yes, this is pretty much more of the same… but it’s still damn fun. This game uses Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as its main setting and plot, yet it still includes levels based on the first three films too. Still with that cheeky, tongue-in-cheek humour and simple but enjoyable gameplay. Much like the previous Lego Indy game, this one is worth playing too.

And that is it for the main Indiana Jones games. As of writing, it has been twelve years since there has been a major Indy game, until… this.

Bethesda and Machine Games are working on an all-new Indiana Jones game. Very little is known of what the game will be about or even what genre of game it will be. Info on the game is harder to find than the Holy Grail. Still, with the team that rebooted the Wolfenstein franchise, really damn well too, I’m hoping this untitled Indy game will be well worth the more than a decade wait.

Now, I did say in the into that I would give a few other smaller, non-main Indiana Jones games a quick mention. So here we go.

There were a few games based on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles TV show. There was The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992) released on the NES. It was typical 8-bit, side-scrolling, platform-action fare, a bit Castlevania-like I guess, it was okay. Instruments of Chaos starring Young Indiana Jones (1994) was released on the Sega Mega Drive. A rather below average and very clunky platformer. There were a few educational Indy games included with The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones (rebranded from The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) DVD box sets. These included The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Revolution, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Special Delivery and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Hunting for Treasure. All released on PC between 2007 and 2008.

Yes, there was even a game or two based exclusively on the fourth flick too. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) was one of those tappy-tap mobile games. The trailer can be found here. I never played it myself, but from what I gather, it was terrible. Indiana Jones (2008) was released on the Didj Custom Gaming System. This was a handheld console aimed at kids, mainly used for education, mainly teaching maths. I couldn’t find much about the game itself, but I know it was based on the fourth film.


Indiana Jones and the Lost Puzzles (2009) was another tappy-tap mobile game. Trailer right here if you really want to see what it was like. Then the last Indiana Jones game released to date was Indiana Jones Adventure World (2011). A Facebook-based social game that was just a rebranding of a previous Facebook game. Yes, here’s a trailer too.

Indy had had quite a career in gaming over the last thirty-nine years. From that first digital adventure with Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Atari 2600, way back in 1982, to that Facebook thing Indiana Jones Adventure World thing. The games have differed vastly in quality and content, with more missing the feeling of being Indiana Jones than understanding the character. As I already said, the Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis adventure game from 1992 is still the best Indy game there has ever been. LucasFilm Games have remastered and updated a few of their classic point ‘n click games recently. So if you don’t mind LucasFilm Games…

As for the new game from Bethesda and Machine Games? I’m being quietly optimistic. Machine Games really did a fantastic job of rebooting the Wolfenstein franchise. I think the Indy IP is in more than capable hands. I just hope this new title isn’t just a FPS as that would be missing the tone and character of Indiana Jones by quote a fair bit. I hope for an action-packed, puzzle-filled adventure game. But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.


Well, this is the first in many Raiders at 40 articles I have written to be released through June for the anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark. See you in the next one where I explore the most famous ‘plot hole‘ in Raiders.