The Indiana Jones franchise has always been something of a struggle for me. Three of the four films along with the television series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, put me to sleep. To be fair I’ve only seen a handful of episodes and that was nearly 20 years ago. However, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is one of my favorite films and by far the best in the series.
“It belongs in a museum.”
The beginning is a little campy, but necessary and sets the tone for the rest of the film. We see a young Indiana Jones, played by River Phoenix, out numbered (as always) and armed only with his wits. Even as a young boy he puts his life in danger for a cross belonging to Coronado, convinced it belongs in a museum for others to study and enjoy. It’s quite thrilling to see Indy use a whip for the first time, also explaining where he got his gnarly chin scar. Additionally, Indy loses the prize he fought so hard to win and gets his first taste of failure when he’s so close to victory—a common occurrence throughout the Indy films, and perhaps this explains where he gets his grit and determination. On the plus side, he did get a new fedora, which isn’t bad for a booby prize. Not to mention inspiring a young Indiana Jones TV series. We also get a glimpse of the relationship with his father, who shows little interest in young Indy or his adventures.
“X Marks the spot.”
Flash forward 26 years, where the real adventure begins, and we the audience get to sit back and enjoy the awesomeness of the Last Crusade. Indy is back in the classroom trying to teach archeology to aspiring tomb raiders. Sure he tries to explain most of their work will be done in a library and “X” never marks the spot. It turns out Indy is only half right. Shortly after class, Indy is summoned to see Mr. Donovan, who is later revealed as the villain in this tale. Once Indy learns his father went missing while looking for the Grail, he and Marcus Brody set off to Venice in search of Indy’s lost father, Henry Jones Sr.
“You were obsessed!”
When father and son are reunited we are in for a real treat. The on-screen chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery is superb, making the film truly a delightful experience. Indy isn’t trying to impress some broad he just met, or save a woman he really cares about. Instead, he is forced to work with his estranged father who has spent his life obsessed with finding the Grail. Interestingly enough, comments are made in the beginning about Indy searching for the cross belonging to Coronado all his life. The two are exactly the same, but see each other as opposites. This certainly adds to the dynamic of their relationship. How can two people that are exactly the same be so different from one another? They certainly find a way to show us.
“I said no camels. That’s five camels! Can’t you count?”
Throughout the rest of the movie the father and son duo are caught up in countless situations of grave danger. Indy has a proven track record for being highly resourceful in emergency situations, a quality his father likes to take credit for. At one point, Indy attempts to have a conversation with Henry aboard the zeppelin, arguing that Henry wasn’t a good father. Henry refutes the statement saying he was an excellent father that taught him self-reliance. One could argue that Henry made Indy the man he is today—a man who rode a motorcycle with sidecar straight into the lion’s den. Speaking of vehicles, the Last Crusade features several different modes of transport including horses, camels, tanks, boats, blimps, motorcycles, planes, trains, and automobiles. Not too many films could ever boast such a variety of transportation modes.
I’d also like to point out the back and forth between Indy and Henry is both clever and comical. Neither one of those two can ever do something without a quick-witted jab towards the other. For the most part, it plays out like a buddy cop movie, but on a more intelligent level. Two of the smartest guys have their slip-ups and common sense goes right out the window.
“Only the penitent man shall pass.”
The Grail is also a fun topic of discussion. The idea of a relic that’s been missing for nearly two thousand years finally being found is compelling and appeals to anyone. Of course in typical Indy fashion, the item is lost forever, but that’s beside the point. Indy was able to complete the trials laid before him to save his father. Keep in mind he was never out to find the Grail in the first place. He told Kazim, a member of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, that he’s not looking for the Grail, but looking for his father. Not only did he find him, but he saved his life, and they learned a thing or two about one another in the process. A great story, and, I daresay, the best Indy story. What say you?
If you would like to watch these movies, but you don’t have them already, please consider buying Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures on BlueRay or Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventure on DVD at Amazon through Geek Legacy’s affiliate links right there in order to support the site.
Finally, if you haven’t already, check out my colleagues’ reviews of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Temple of Doom, and Amanda’s upcoming review for The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull later this afternoon. Additionally, Tyler will be posting his argument for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on Sunday.
You can follow Justin at @Edgyarmo on Twitter.