This post is going to cover a few George Lucas related topics from Indy to Red Tails, so if you're just not in the mood, skim this one or pass it over.
Everyone else, read on...
I went out and saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on its last night at the second run theatre in town and it got me in a bit of an Indy mood (surprise, surprise). I enjoyed the film immensely on opening night but found that I liked it even better the second time around. Little details I didn't absorb on my initial viewing popped up, enriching the experience somewhat, and things I may not have liked before were greeted with a little less irritation this time around. It's amazing how knowing what will happen will take the edge off of what may have previously been perceived as "bad scenes".
Still on my Indy buzz after leaving the theatre, I got home and hit the web looking for more info, interviews, and behind the scenes stuff on the film and the expanded universe but found myself running into the same brick wall I've been hitting for years; a lame, uninformative official website. Yeah, I know there are a few decent Indy fan sites out there that pull their respective weight (TheRaider.net, IndianaJones.de and IndyFan.com being a few of the best) but there is so much information and cool stuff that the official site could have, it's really, really disappointing to see the few videos and factoids that reside there.
When the Star Wars prequels started production, the Star Wars site ran web diaries, weekly teaser/set images, and other cool behind-the-scenes stuff. By the prequel trilogy's end, the site launched the Hyperspace fan club, exclusive material like deleted scenes and animatics, the ability to watch the original Clone Wars cartoon before they aired on Cartoon Network, newsletters, DVD ROM features, fiction, videos, web strips...I could go on. It was a website that I enjoyed visiting regularly until they changed it a few months ago, but that's another story.
The Indiana Jones site briefly tried to be as informative a resource as the Star Wars site back when they released the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the Indy trilogy on VHS. There were many similar features started but not very much of the extras ever materialized. Then, with the anticipated release of the new film, they shut the old site down and we had to wait until they relaunched it as the Crystal Skull site. I always thought that was a bad idea since, as a series, they should have one big umbrella site with mini sites for each film, but what do I know, right? It's not like it didn't service the Galaxy Far, Far Away's site for a decade.
I mean, where are the interviews with cast and crew? Where are the web diaries (one Frank Marshall clip does not count, guys), the development extras, the exclusive web features, the continuing news updates, the archival material, the depth text commentaries, the production blog?
In my desperation I turned to the Indy-Cast, a fan produced podcast on all things Indy. Some of the news bits are interesting (although I can't say as I heard anything on the Indy-Cast that I hadn't already gleaned from other sources), but most of the show is an hour-long marathon of the host reading peoples press releases and e-mails talking about what they think the fifth movie should be about, what the best Indy fist-fight was, random ramblings and what Indy related foodstuffs they had for breakfast. All to a looping backdrop of the John Williams score.
What I wouldn't give to be a content developer (or one of the schmoes producing it) for an Indy site, particularly the official one, which should be the ultimate resource, in my opinion. Lucas Online, you listenin'? One dedicated content droid sitting idle and looking for work. Call me.
Anyway, the DVD will be coming out on October 13th, so maybe I'll get my Kumba-ya-yas out in a few weeks (although, I'm cheesed off that the Blu-Ray has exclusive content not available on the standard definition disc...grrrr).
Update: I picked up an issue of the official Indiana Jones magazine this evening and one of the features inside was a storyboarded, but unused, sequence from Temple of Doom. I seem to recall seeing this stuff up on the old website before it went the way of the dodo and I can't help but theorize that all the really fun content was pulled in favour of showcasing it in something like the magazine for $7 rather than on the web for free. It's a cynical viewpoint, especially when you consider there's a Star Wars magazine that's been running forever and it never impacted the website, but I can't think of anything that makes more sense.
In other Indy related news, I just found out that they will be producing a new set of expanded universe books, which has me all aflutter. I really enjoyed the original series (not quite done all twelve but almost there) and anxiously await the first of the new batch, Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead written by Steve Perry. More good news on the novel front is that Rob McGregor, writer of the Last Crusade novelisation and the first six books of the first set, will return to the character. His book should be the next up after Perry's so we'll see how that works out. The first one should hit bookstores in May of 2009, so there's still a few months to wait. Still, good news for an Indy fan, overall.
By the way, does anybody know if there is going to be a volume two to the Indiana Jones Adventures series? This digest sized gem was one of the best Indy stories I have read in some time. I thought I posted about it a while back but it doesn't appear that I have, so I'll have to post a review of it sometime soon. I'm working on my next Indy Comic Revue so I might slip it in at the same time. Back to the point, though, I haven't seen any news regarding a #2 on the DHC site or in the press, so I'm throwing it out there in case one of y'all happen to know anything. I want to see more of this stuff.
I was going to talk a bit about Clone Wars, but I'm going to pass on it for now and just finish off with the good news I've just heard regarding Lucas' pet project on the Tuskeegee Airmen, Red Tails. It has a writer, John Ridley, and a director, Anthony Hemingway, so we just might be seeing a non-sequel Lucas project in cinemas sometime in the next few years. To be honest, I've been waiting for a non-Star Wars or Indy project from George for almost as long as everyone else wanted the prequel trilogy. I still love Tucker and Radioland Murders remains a guilty pleasure of mine, so I'm really looking forward to RT. You could do a lot worse than John Ridley on script-chores, too.
I gotta run, so I'm going to end the post there. I'll be back to add some images if you happen to be reading this sucker bare and if you are, I commend you.