And yes, “The Last Crusade” (1989) is still that good, not just because of all the clever action and comedy, but, as I’m sure you remember, because of the truly remarkable and engaging chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford as the father-and-son Dr. Joneses. Connery as the bookish elder Jones has some great lines and drops them with aplomb, and his presence gives the film an enormous lift. But that is not meant to diminish Ford’s contributions. He rises to the occasion and gives what is arguably his best Indiana Jones performance.
In addition, there’s that famous 15-minute prologue with young Indiana (played wonderfully by River Phoenix) having his Utah encounter, beginning with that stunning opening shot as the Paramount mountain fades into Arches National Park. And we learn much more about Indiana himself, from the scar on his chin to how he got his first name. This one is the closest to “Raiders” in terms of sheer fun.
As for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” (2008), well, I’m not a fan of Shia LaBeouf’s motor-mouth arrogance, which gets way too much screen time, and the overly chatty script lacks the wit, sophistication and character-developing depth of “Last Crusade.” I also could have done without the climax and its sci-fi revelation. And though the stunts are all well staged, the wrongheaded nuclear-blast sequence is just too far over the top. (A refrigerator? Really?)
But you must admit that 19 years later, Harrison Ford slips nicely back into his role as “The Man With the Hat.” And I enjoyed Cate Blanchett’s villain. And perhaps best of all, it’s great to see Karen Allen reprising her role from “Raiders” (after 27 years!). So I’m not one of those “Crystal Skull” haters, though it’s obviously the least of the series.
Despite my enthusiasm for these films, it must be acknowledged that they are all quite violent. Each film contains gruesome killings, some played for laughs, along with supernatural elements and plenty of profanity. And, as noted, “Temple of Doom” is very dark and scary. So they are definitely not for small children.
That said, “Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures” is a high watermark for this season of classic films getting Blu-ray upgrades. Spielberg’s “Jaws” is also spectacular in high-def. Next up, a bevy of Alfred Hitchcock’s best films. Followed shortly thereafter by David Lean’s “Lawrence of Arabia.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have to find extra work just to keep up with all these goodies. I wonder if they’re hiring part-time Christmas help yet.
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