My friends and I were discussing PG 13 movies the other day and that reminded me of how that rating came to be. The popular opinion is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sparked the need for something between PG and R, and Red Dawn ended up being the first PG 13. It made me want to watch an Indiana Jones movie. I wanted to watch something a little more light hearted than Temple of Doom, (not take your heart from your chest-ed) and I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark a while back … so let’s go with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade!
The first three movies were great action-adventure movies that many others have attempted to replicate. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was fun but went way too far overboard in every department. The third managed to hit the right balance of action, comedy, adventure, puzzles, and charm.
I would give it 9 “he chose … poorly” quotes out of 10.
FOR THE UNITIATED
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the third entry to the Indiana Jones franchise (and should have been the last). We open up with our first look at a young Indy (River Phoenix) seeing how he first got into archaeology and his sense of style (hat, jacket, and whip). Cut foward to Indy (Harrison Ford) being approached by a wealthy collector / donor who needs assistance tracking down the last archaeologist who was hunting down the Holy Grail in addition to the Grail itself. As it turns out the person he is following up is his father. He falls for the assistant / liason who ends up being a Nazi agent … as does the collector who hired him. So as usual, it ends up being a race against the Nazis to find the “most prized” treasure of all time. Luckily, he finds his father (Sean Connery) before running into Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) to help him along the journey.
This movie exemplifies everything that is great with the Indiana Jones franchise. The sound of his punches is just as memorable as the theme, but the best thing for this movie has to be the back and forth between the son and father. For every disapproving frown Dr. Jones senior gives Dr. Jones junior there is an approving smirk. The chemistry plays perfectly with Indy constantly seeking validation and ultimately finding it. The scene to best showcase this is their escape from the castle and ensuing motorcycle chase. Everything you could want from Indiana Jones is in this one scene (aside from any actual treasure).
If I had to nitpick, I would say the amount of coincidences that happen are astronomical. The leaps of logic don’t help much either, but they almost go hand in hand. Two instances that stick out: the “III, XII, X” scene and going to Berlin to get the Grail diary use both.
- Indy is taken to a library in Venice (ah, Venice) where his father was last seen. There was a slip of paper found that had the Roman numerals III, XII, and X on it. The first area they get to in the library is in front of a stained glass window with the numbers in addition so some columns with those numbers. On the floor is the X, which of course marks the spot. The fact that both of the Jones knew it was the X is a leap, especially since Sr. didn’t break through the floor. They find a burial chamber filled with oil (really?), that doesn’t ignite when their makeshift torch drops embers but lights up with the flick of a match from the guardians of the Grail. They find an exit after discovering the tomb is now filled with water (just oil on top I guess) that exits to a manhole. It is a good thing no one thought to explore the manhole and the architects just decided to keep it there and not seal it off …
- After the Grail diary is stolen by the Nazis, the Joneses (Senior and Junior) bike off to Berlin. Why the Nazi treasure hunters didn’t keep it and stay on the trail is not explained. Somehow they end up getting into a large book burning ralley, run into the assistant who still had the book, and then run into Hitler who signs their book. They happen to escape unnoticed and get back with no one being the wiser.
After rewatching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, it makes me want to go back and watch the other two (there as a fourth?). This was when Spielberg was at his peak and everything he touched was gold, not to mention back when his collaborations with Lucas were instant classics. Sure it had a lot of convenient plot points, but the heart of the movie makes you look past the small issues. If you haven’t seen it, what rock have you been hiding under? Seek these movies out immediately.
An easy recommendation would be another Indiana Jones movie or something like Romancing the Stone. I am going to pick a movie that ended up almost as a parody of the action-adventure genre: National Treasure! If you can get past the cheese factor, there is a lot of fun to be had with this movie. Nic Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates to a T, it might be a role that overshadows the rest of his performances with a single line. The sequel isn’t worth watching, but do yourself a favor and find the first … that is of course after you “steal the Declaration of Independence”.