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5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Crusade evokes the spirit of Raiders....., 21 Nov. 2003
This review is from: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade [VHS] [1989] (VHS Tape)
After having taken a definitively dark turn in 1984’s Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, director Steven Spielberg and executive producer George Lucas decided that the third installment of the series should be thrilling, lighter in tone and more upbeat and humorous. In other words, they wanted to recreate the Saturday-matinee serial fun of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Lucas, Menno Meyjes and screenwriter Jeffrey Boam wrote a story that once again sent the archaeologist/adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) on the quest for another legendary artifact -- the Holy Grail. And to avoid the inevitable “ho hum, been there, done that” syndrome that sequels often suffer from, they decided to include a father-son dynamic to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Although Last Crusade follows the basic structure -- borrowed from the James Bond series -- of the other movies by starting the film with the end of a previous adventure before introducing the main storyline, the film tweaks the formula by showing us Indy’s first big adventure…in 1912 Utah, when the future archaeology professor is a Boy Scout (literally) living with his widowed father, Henry Jones. While on a Boy Scouting sojourn in the mountainous desert, young Indy (River Phoenix) wanders into a cave and sees a group of ruffians pilfering the long-lost Cross of Coronado. “That cross is an important artifact,” Indy says to a fellow Boy Scout. “It belongs in a museum.” Indy sends his friend for help, steals the Cross of Coronado from the ruffians, but ends up being chased as he attempts to escape on foot, horseback and even a circus train. In this interlude, Indy acquires most of the traits established in the earlier films -- his fear of snakes, his affinity for the whip (and the origins of the scar on his chin) and, yes, his choice of the leather jacket and snap-brim fedora. (One of the best scenes in the series: the handsome rogue who was hired to find the Cross by the collector known in the credits as “Panama Hat” tells Indy, “You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.” And in a show of admiration for the kid’s spunk and courage, takes off his hat and places it on Indy’s head. Spielberg holds the camera on the hat, and in the blink of an eye, we flash forward 26 years and to the conclusion of Indy’s search for the Cross of Coronado.)
After this exciting prologue, The Last Crusade gets underway when American millionaire Walter Donovan (The Empire Strikes Back’s Julian Glover) commissions Indy to find the missing leader (and his important papers) of Donovan’s Holy Grail recovery team. Several clues have been found near Ankara, clues that might lead to the location of the legendary cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper -- a cup that also caught some of His blood at the Crucifixion. According to Grail lore, anyone who drinks from it will be granted eternal life, and Donovan is determined to find it. Indy temporizes, telling Donovan that his father is the real expert on the Grail, only to be told that Professor Henry Jones (Sean Connery) is the missing team leader.
Soon, Indiana Jones, his friend and boss Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott), Elsa Schneider (Allison Doody) -- a young, sexy Austrian archaeologist who works for Donovan -- and Indy’s friend Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) set off on a quest to find Henry Jones, Sr., his Grail Diary…and the legendary Grail itself. And before The Last Crusade ends, Indiana Jones must confront thousands of rats, an order of knights sworn to protect the Grail and the relentless forces of SS Colonel Vogel (The Sum of All Fears’ Michael Byrne) who want to take the legendary artifact to Adolf Hitler himself.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with its crisp script, thrilling music by John Williams, fine directing by Spielberg and a convincing chemistry between Ford and Connery, is one of the best action films made in the 1980s, and its recent release on DVD proves that it, like the other films in the series, has aged well.
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