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   INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989) 

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CAST
Harrison Ford
Sean Connery
Denholm Elliot
Alison Doody
John Rhys-Davies
Julian Glover
River Phoenix
Michael Byrne

DIRECTED BY
Steven Spielberg

PURCHASE


DVD




Time: 127 mins.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action Adventure

Won Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing. Nominated for Original Score and Best Sound.


After the darkness of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, I was somewhat wary when they announced the third installment. That is until I heard they were casting Sean Connery as Indy's father. What could be better than a pairing of filmdom's sexiest leading men? As it turns out, not much. Ford and Connery are wonderful together as father/son archaeologists on the trail of history's greatest ancient treasure – the Holy Grail. Their enemy is yet again the Nazis, the only group who doesn't complain about being portrayed as the bad guys. THE LAST CRUSADE is much lighter than either of the other films in the series, which is something of a relief after the 2nd movie. Though some people find this installment too frothy, I think Spielberg found the right mixture of witty humor, dangerous adventure and intriguing mystery. We really get to see Indy using every weapon in his arsenal, from his brain to his brawn, as well as learn more about what makes our hero tick. Which, in my opinion, makes Indy all the more endearing.

The film opens with a spectacular action sequence that has a young Indiana, played by River Phoenix, establishing what would become familiar territory in the life of his character – retrieving a priceless artifact that has fallen into the wrong hands. In this 10-15 minute exposition we learn many things about why our hero is the way he is. How he got his fear of snakes, the scar on his chin, the fedora and the bullwhip. It may be a bit contrived for some people, but I found it to be a great way to help explain about Indy's character in a fun and exciting way. From there, we return to the "present" day where Indy's father, Professor Henry Jones, is missing. He is apparently kidnapped by the Nazis who are attempting to wrench from him the location of the Holy Grail, which supposedly grants anyone who drinks from it eternal life. Using his father's diary, Indy follows his trail while deciphering the mysteries of the grail's resting place. He initially hooks up with his father's partner, the blond and beautiful Elsa Schneider (Doody), but it quickly becomes clear once she gets her hands on the diary that her loyalties are not with the Jones's.


Indiana Jones: "I'm like a bad penny, I always turn up."

The second part of the film focuses on the escape of Indy and Henry from the clutches of the Nazis and the recovery of the diary. They are pretty much forced to use every type of transportation known to man, at the time, to get away from the German thugs. Boats, motorcycles, a zeppelin, airplanes, camels, whatever it takes to make sure they get to the grail first. Unfortunately for Indy, his father and Brody (Elliott) are continually being captured (pretty great in-joke having the best James Bond always need to be rescued), forcing him to put most of his efforts towards their safety instead of the search. Though Brody and Henry may not be men of action, they do manage to contribute to the fight in unique and amusing ways. Our heroes are eventually outnumbered and Indy is placed in a grave situation. His father is in mortal peril and he must use all his knowledge and courage to decipher the clues from the diary and reach the grail. Much like the end of RAIDERS those who seek to use God's power for evil are gravely punished. The ending isn't as exciting as RAIDERS, but it's definitely more touching and satisfying.

What really distinguishes this installment from the first is the complicated plot and clever dialogue. The repartee between Jones Junior and Senior is filled with in-jokes that could only occur because the audience is familiar with the back story. The chemistry between Ford and Connery sparkles with wit, intelligence and respect. These guys are having fun and it shows. The action sequences are extremely over-the-top and as fun as always. It's Indy against the world and for some reason you believe he's capable of always winning. Since Connery's character isn't an action hero, they came up with ingenious ways of having him participate in the craziness using everyday items – an umbrella, pen, vase – to subdue the enemy. Alison Doody, who plays both their love interests, is fine, but not really given much to do. Indy hasn't had a decent female partner since Karen Allen in RAIDERS, who managed to be tough while still retaining her femininity. Dr. Schneider is a pure caricature of the femme fatale from the wrong side of the tracks. Hopefully in the fourth installment they'll fix this problem. I'm not asking for an equal, just somebody with intelligence and depth.

I love both RAIDERS and LAST CRUSADE, but if I had to choose one as my favorite it would be the latter. Mainly because of the humor and pacing. Though without the first we would never have become enamored with the exploits of Indiana Jones to begin with. All I have to say is if you haven't seen these films, you're missing out on some of the best adventure cinema to ever have been created. If you're a fan, you know what I'm talking about. This is pure escapist entertainment of the highest caliber. It's what going to the movies is all about.



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