Apparently while I was out with the wife and kids last night, checking out the Bright Nights display at Stanley Park, the blogosphere exploded with the news that George Lucas declared yesterday — without giving away any story details, natch — that Indiana Jones IV will begin shooting next year, for release in 2008.
Whatever. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) is a classic for all time, of course, but neither of the sequels produced so far is anything to write home about — so why would this one be any different?
Still, if this new film does get made, it will be intriguing to see how it turns out, since Lucas and Spielberg have gone down very different artistic paths over the past two decades.
Indeed, they had already begun going down those paths at some point between the second and third Indiana Jones films, which came out in 1984 and 1989, respectively. During that period, Lucas produced Howard the Duck (1986), Labyrinth (1986) and Willow (1988), plus a couple of Ewok TV-movies (1984-1985) — all of which apparently ranged from awful to mediocre — whereas Spielberg had begun to get serious with The Color Purple (1985), which was a hit, and Empire of the Sun (1987), which was not.
Since then, their career paths have diverged even more. Lucas has essentially ruined his reputation as a film-maker for all time, by tampering with the original Star Wars and producing all three prequels. And Spielberg? He has delved into the more troubling aspects of American and European history, won two Oscars, and collaborated posthumously with Stanley Kubrick; even his “popcorn” movies, like Minority Report (2002; my review) and War of the Worlds (2005), aren’t all that escapist any more.
Both men “needed” the third film, to affirm their viability at the box office or to affirm their credibility as entertainers. But do either of them “need” a fourth film? Doubtful. The only person who really “needs” this movie now is Harrison Ford, who hasn’t had anything resembling a hit — critically or commercially — in years. Perhaps Lucas and Spielberg are doing this as a favour for him.
But let’s not analyze this movie too much before it actually gets made — assuming, that is, that it does get made, in the end.