By Michael Kaye
Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (Review)
Welcome back to Flashback Cinema! One thing I love about the Indiana Jones franchise is just how similar, yet different each installment is from the last. Part of the reason for that is because a new screenwriter is brought on to change things up. Lawrence Kasdan gave us Raiders of the Lost Ark, Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz gave us Temple of Doom, and today we'll be looking at Jeffrey Boam's contribution in The Last Crusade.
Here's the story. When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must team up with Marcus Brody, Sallah, and Elsa Schneider to follow in his father's footsteps and stop the Nazis from recovering the power of eternal life.
There's no doubt in my mind that Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best of the original trilogy, but if you were to ask which one was my favorite, I'd give to edge to this one. Until the more recent installments, this was a perfect end to the original trilogy. Here are some of the highlights.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, I love this cast. Of course we all know how great Harrison Ford is at playing this character, but what I love about this movie specifically is his amazing chemistry with Sean Connery as his father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr. What makes this so great is that even though in real life the age gap is barely over 10 years, you still believe that they are father and son. It's also great to be reunited with Denholm Elliott's Dr. Marcus Brody and John Rhys-Davies's Sallah, who I felt were missing from Temple of Doom (yeah, yeah, I know it's a prequel, but still!). As for the love interest/femme fatale, I liked Alison Doody's performance as Dr. Elsa Schneider. No one will ever replace Marion Ravenwood, but if it wasn't for her fate at the end of the film, Elsa would have come close. Finally, we have our villain, Julian Glover as Walter Donovan. This was a great way to still use the Nazi's as the main antagonist, but with a twist, as he's an American businessman who's responsible to setting Jones on this journey.
And now for the most boring part of the review, throwing praise towards Spielberg's eye for directing great action. Part of me honestly wishes that eternal life was really possible, that way we never have to worry about losing one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. This movie just hits the ground running with an awesome flashback scene of a young Indy, played by the late River Phoenix, getting chased by the owners of a golden crucifix. I've seen my fair share of train sequences, but this one is definitely among the best. It's also a nice origin story for how Indy got both his trademark whip and the fedora. There are other great action scenes sprinkled throughout, but this was the one that I thought stood out the most.
The main reason why this movie is my favorite over the rest is for the writing. Jeffrey Boam is best known for films such as Innerspace, The Lost Boys, Lethal Weapons 2 and 3, and of course, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. He specializes in character driven films with a healthy mix of humor, and that's exactly what you'll find here. It's not like Temple of Doom was completely without humor, it just didn't mesh well with the darker tone of the rest of the film. Something else that I like about this film is that it feels the most like an ensemble film, especially once we meet up with Brody and Sallah.
Finally, John Williams crushing it once again with the music. Since this is a more lighthearted film compared to Temple of Doom, it allows Williams to bring some of his more jovial energy to the music. Scenes where the music really shines are the opening flashback, Indy and his father being pursued in the air by the Nazi's, and in the final scene, where we hear the main theme.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was so much fun to watch on the big screen, as all of these films should be experienced. Because this movie is more character driven, I was more engaged with the story than in the previous films. Everyone in the cast brings their A-game, as do Spielberg and Williams behind the camera. If this movie is playing near you, do NOT pass up the opportunity and go see it ASAP!
Now I want to hear from you guys. Have you seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and if so what did you think? Also, as I asked in the previous review, how would you rank the films in the original Indiana Jones trilogy? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where I honor the two-year anniversary of the passing of Robin Williams in one of my favorite films of all time, Disney's Aladdin.