Temple of Doom? Maybe someday. But no thanks. I don’t want to suffer through that thirty-five-minute climax again anytime soon. Please don’t get mad, I only jokingly dislike that movie.
Getting back on topic, The Last Crusade is the only Indiana Jones movie I have much nostalgia for if any. A long time ago, when I was but a wee little lad, I used to watch it at my grandparents’ place. But that was so long ago that I honestly couldn’t remember anything that happened aside from ‘Indiana Jones had a dad’.
Also, I probably wasn’t paying much attention, knowing me. That, or I literally couldn’t understand what the characters were saying. I was, like, four years old at the time.
Story: Chasing the Ultimate Prize
Honestly, I could copy and paste all of the criticism I had for Raiders and call it a day. This movie has all the same strengths and weaknesses that the first one had. Granted, I do think this one is slightly better in a few places.
Is that a hot take? I genuinely don’t know. Can’t wait for an angry commenter to let me know.
After the cold open is done, Indiana Jones is presented with the latest and greatest treasure to be hunted: the holy grail. The item which his father has been looking for his entire life. But now, his father has gone missing! Now Indiana must locate his father, as well as the most valuable treasure to exist. But will he be able to conquer the nazi forces standing in his way? Or more difficult yet: his old man?
If I had to point at one thing I love in this movie, it’s the dynamic between Indiana and his father. The two work super well on-screen! The conflict between them is natural, interesting, and it drives the plot forward in an engaging way. Watching the two bicker back and forth is really enjoyable! It serves as the emotional core of the movie and it does the job so much better than any of his love interests did in the previous movies!
Speaking of which, they did something pretty simple but clever with this movie’s version of that character. After watching the other two, you’d expect her to be the pretty helper that Indiana bangs. And while that certainly does happen, it doesn’t end with just that! Her betrayal is simple but it does subvert the audience’s expectations in a way that helps the story in a good way.
The adventure itself is also really fun and engaging! Each set piece is Spielberg at his best. From the various battles to the final few puzzles to reach the grail, everything here is super cool and interesting! The tank chase, the invisible path, ‘You have chosen… poorly’, every set piece in this movie is great! Better yet: each one leads into the next super well!
Still, it isn’t perfect. The villains are boring and forgettable, the only good guys that feel necessary to the plot are Indie and his father, and many of the puzzles Indie needs to solve are just ‘look at a thing from the right angle’ (though the other ones are absolutely incredible). It’s an enjoyable adventure movie but it does have a few problems.
Shocking, I know. It’s almost like its a movie.
Presentation: The Last Hurrah of the 80s
Ah, 1989. When movies were still practical and CGI hadn’t taken over the industry. Can we go back to that, please? No, I didn’t think so.
I love the look of old movies so god damn much! The practical effects look as amazing now as they did then! The cinematography is dynamic and exciting, which makes every single action scene a joy to watch! It doesn’t have that old film grain but it definitely has the aura that classic films have that modern movies just don’t.
And the music… do I really have to say it? It’s John fucking Williams! Of course the score is amazing! Literally no one in the world would even attempt to argue that! The man’s a god damn musical genius!
TL;DR: this movie looks amazing. It does by the standards of the time and even modern standards. When it comes to a visual front, Spielberg was an absolute, indisputable genius.
I’d say he still is, if not for the fact that he made Crystal Skull. And Ready Player One. And a whole bunch of other ugly movies.
This movie should have been the conclusion to the Indiana Jones saga. Even Spielberg himself wanted it to be. In the behind the scenes interviews for Crystal Skull, he said that he had argued with George Lucas over making the movie, claiming that he was done with the series, it was great, and they should move on.
And he was absolutely right. But for some reason, he just gave up on telling Lucas ‘no’. Which does sort of take the impact out of that beautiful shot of Indie riding into the sunset.
Honestly, I feel like I don’t need to even bother recommending this movie. You’ve either already seen it or you have something wrong with you. If you fall into the former, watch it again. If you’re in the ladder, fix that. Watch Raiders, watch Temple of Doom (like I said earlier, I don’t hate that movie, I just really don’t want to rewatch it), and watch Last Crusade. It is the perfect conclusion to an excellent series.
As for Crystal Skull and the inevitable Indiana Jones 5… don’t. Just don’t.