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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 30.95%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 1.59%
Total Crap: 2.38%

4 reviews, 102 user ratings

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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by Rob Gonsalves

"A fitting finale -- while it lasted."
5 stars

It's pretty clear that by the time Steven Spielberg made "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," he was becoming a different kind of director from the younger man who made "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

By 1989, Spielberg had long chafed at being a magician at kiddie parties. He'd stretched quite a bit with The Color Purple (1985) and Empire of the Sun (1987); whatever else can be said about those films, they're a definite demarcation line between (brilliantly done) juvenilia and (hit-or-miss) grown-up cinema. So when Spielberg reunited with George Lucas and Harrison Ford to make Last Crusade, it's not quite accurate to say his heart wasn't in it. It's more that he was on his way to being the director of Schindler's List, the movie that didn't use Nazis and Hitler as the punchlines of gags. Spielberg was casting around for something that would render this last Indy adventure — well, clearly it was conceived as the last one at the time — relevant to who he'd become. So the movie is all about reconnecting with Dad.

Arnold Spielberg (who turned 91 a few months ago) was a computer programmer when little Steve was growing up. In the words of Bright Lights Film Journal, Arnold "buried himself in his work and drifted farther and farther from his wife and family." Sounds a lot like Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), who has nursed a lifelong obsession with the Holy Grail at the expense of his relationship with young Henry Jr. (River Phoenix). In the film's prologue, the teenage Indy, off in Utah with his Boy Scout troop, stumbles upon a group of mercenaries boosting the Cross of Coronado. As is the prologue tradition in Indy films, Indy loses the prize to the thieves, one of whom wears the familiar fedora and leather jacket. We see that this mystery man (Richard Young, who'd played Davy Crockett on an episode of Spielberg's Amazing Stories) gives Indy more validation than his old man ("It can wait. Count to twenty...In Greek").

From there, Spielberg seamlessly cuts to the adult Indy, still chasing after that damn Cross of Coronado. (One wonders how many nearly-acquired artifacts Indy has had a hard-on for over the years.) The action unfolds aboard a ship at stormy sea, and it's probably the first indication that Last Crusade will focus more on character than on action: it's staged rather clumsily. This will be true of just about every other action set piece in the movie — Spielberg simply doesn't mount the sequences with the same unholy kinetic snap that distinguished Raiders and Temple of Doom, which felt like they'd been shot out of a gun and edited with a whip. When Indy is sent by smoothie Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) to find Henry, who has apparently disappeared on the trail of the Grail (like father, like son), one action piece after another is either played as light comedy or, in the case of the boat chase, is allowed to dribble to an anti-climax. (The tank chase near the end has some fine tense moments, but it's too little too late.) Moreover, Indy's new love interest, Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), has almost no chemistry with him — for retrospectively obvious reasons.

So Last Crusade is a bit of a letdown as an Indy adventure. But it plays like gangbusters as a character comedy starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. It often plays as though Spielberg made a third Indy film simply as an excuse to get these two in the same room. Connery as Indiana Jones' dad, of course, is one of the great casting strokes of genius in modern film, and not just because Connery-as-James-Bond was Indy's conceptual dad (the whole shebang started with Spielberg telling Lucas he wanted to direct a 007 flick). Connery brings out a vastly appealing dorky-kid side of Ford we haven't seen before in the Indy films, and Ford parries with Connery angrily yet lovingly. It's a complex and real relationship — Henry's guilt, Indy's resentment. Whenever they're onscreen together, Connery and Ford are on a shared wavelength of mutual disappointment and high tomfoolery ("Junior, the floor is on fire. ...Aaand the chair"), an unstable mix that works beautifully.

The rest of the movie occasionally feels tired and schlocky, and not schlocky in a good way. Many have commented bitterly, and rightly so, on how the script reduces Denholm Elliott's Marcus Brody and John Rhys-Davies' Sallah to comic-relief oafs, though Rhys-Davies hits the perfect incredulous pitch with "You are named after the dog? HA HA HA HAAAA." Yes, Indy the icon, the hero, the stud, the brilliant archaeologist and world adventurer, named himself after a dog (actually Lucas' dog). It's sort of apropos, given how Indy ceaselessly digs in the dirt for bones. But the whole movie, starting with the prologue that explains Indy's facial scar, whip preference, and fear of snakes, demythologizes Indy while ultimately sending him off into the sunset, a myth reborn as a flawed son, gullible lover, and humbled archaeologist who, along with his dad, has finally learned that life is about more than the chase.

So the action scenes seem obligatory. The comedy is sometimes too broad, and the movie as a whole feels softer and lighter than what came before (an obvious break from the hysterical darkness and heaviness of "Temple of Doom"). But when the legends are up there together, all is forgiven. More than simply a valentine to his own dad and an acknowledgment that obsessive fathers deserve some slack (Spielberg, a father himself by that time, could probably relate), "Last Crusade" is a dream-team tribute to the men whose movie adventures have inspired and enthralled so many.

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originally posted: 05/22/08 12:10:38
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User Comments

9/04/16 TonyK Tied with Raiders as the best in the franchise. 5 stars
7/18/15 Cal L Action-packed, clever and witty. Ford and Connery are magic together. 5 stars
12/11/12 Tracey Boring. A step down from the first two. 1 stars
10/16/12 Dr.Lao Not bad for an action movie starring two old geezers 4 stars
3/01/12 jcar my favorite of series with great action and cool visual and makeup effects, better than 2 4 stars
6/11/10 Flathead King An impressive movie although it does look like a remake of Raiders with Connery thrown in. 4 stars
8/31/09 ur 86 Alright 1 stars
5/30/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Amazing 5 stars
6/10/08 Johnnyfaye Much like the other indy films...this has probably one the best endings I have ever seen... 5 stars
6/04/08 Dana one of my personal favorite enjoy watching it 5 stars
5/25/08 debdahlin Loved this movie - sean connery and harrison ford are great together 5 stars
5/17/08 Jas best Indina Jones ever 5 stars
4/01/08 Doc G I'll be 80 in July, 08. It made me feel like a kid again 5 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White adventure from minute one 5 stars
12/13/07 Megan Best of the series. Gotta love that ol' Sean Connery. 4 stars
2/16/07 Vip Ebriega If you love 'Raiders' and 'The Temple of Doom', you'll love this. 5 stars
1/03/07 EZ Good old Indy 5 stars
11/05/06 cody My favorite one of them all, harrison ford is awesome, it belongs in a musesum dude. 4 stars
2/11/06 Anthony Probably the best one 5 stars
11/23/05 Ed Probably the most fun and enjoyable adventure flick ever made. 5 stars
9/05/05 Ric Harrison Ford and Spielberg at their best, this is my all-time favorite action/adventure. 5 stars
8/28/05 Quigley this one ruled the trilogy. Sean Connery was awesome. this movie is funny, cool, and sweet! 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Mr. Connery the best film out of the best series, nicely done 5 stars
5/27/05 tony exellent film. godd plot, action scenes and all the works a good action movie needs! 4 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold What's up with people who like this one more than the 1st? 4 stars
3/15/05 Ronin best of 3 5 stars
1/04/05 t-1000 more lighthearted fun, but nevertheless a fun ride. 4 stars
10/28/04 Ashley Heitkamp one of the most predictable boring fight'em up movies i've ever been forced to watch 2 stars
10/19/04 Al Guy Better than the 2nd, but not close too the 1st. 4 stars
10/17/04 Elisheva Rison This movie is the next best thing to the first Indiana Jones! It's adventure-packed! 5 stars
10/16/04 Denise Junior is great 5 stars
9/04/04 Valerie This is the best of the Indiana Jones movies. A very fun film! 4 stars
8/19/04 courtney best of 3 indy kicks nazi ass, finds the one thing his father wants, and saves his life 5 stars
8/14/04 N.P.D. Reprieve of the original, but with enough twists to be at least almost as strong. 5 stars
7/26/04 keithers truely the last good adventure film to date 5 stars
6/01/04 James Kustes Not until I saw it recently did I remember what it was about 5 stars
5/31/04 Nobody Best of the three, though Ford's acting is somewhat unconvincing. 4 stars
3/27/04 Littlepurch. By FAR hte best of the 3. Hilarious and thrilling with 2 gr8 performances from Sean & Ford. 5 stars
2/21/04 Joe Ford and Connery make this probably the best Indy flick. 5 stars
1/14/04 Eric Indy's never been better. 5 stars
12/24/03 Snickerdoodle Indy kicks Nazi butt! And Sean Connery was really good too. 5 stars
12/14/03 Joe Funny, thrilling, and touching, it's the best Indy film. 5 stars
12/07/03 john Connery is phenomenal! 5 stars
11/10/03 Skilly Skally Yep cool but Raiders is without doubt the best 4 stars
10/26/03 Erik Van Sant An improvement over the last installment. Too many 'Spielberg' moments. G. Lucas blows ass. 4 stars
9/06/03 Dimitri Aubert Comedy takes over the action, but still a good movie. 4 stars
8/09/03 Will Green This movie deserves your respect, FUCKERS! Bettered by Temple of Doom 4 stars
7/23/03 Spiderfan729 Remains one of my top 5 favorite movies. Packed with fun until the end! Must See! 5 stars
7/17/03 Katie Roberts it was sooooooooooo predictable. 1 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby Tired, smug film only has a few bright moments to its credit. 2 stars
3/21/03 defranco73 The second best of the trilogy. 5 stars
2/07/03 Joe Along with The Shawshank Redemption, my favorite movie of all-time 5 stars
1/01/03 John Aster Habig God's name is Jehovah 5 stars
10/29/02 José my favourite Indiana Jones 5 stars
10/26/02 YES Best action film ever, period. 5 stars
9/16/02 raymond fogarty one of the best movies ever made 5 stars
7/12/02 Eric The Last Crusade is the best of the trilogy and my favorite action film of all time. 5 stars
7/12/02 KMG I love this candy corn archeology! Fun! 4 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar In my opinion, the least of the 3. Still a very good movie though 4 stars
6/25/02 Charles Tatum Better than "Temple" 5 stars
5/12/02 Sunny Philip You find more about Indi in this movie than all the others, while seeing him kick Nazi ass 5 stars
4/03/02 Stephanie Throckmorton Barely above average; Connery awkward in role; suffers from lack of heroine like in IJ&TOD. 4 stars
3/16/02 I love movies did anyone notice this is the only movie where Indy wears a tie in his adventures? 5 stars
1/18/02 David A. A good sequel to "Raiders." THIS is the part two, not that miserable Temple of Doom farce. 5 stars
1/17/02 Mad Max Worth a freakin' look? Most beautiful girl? Awesome, but girl sucks 5 stars
12/14/01 I love movies one of his SPielberg's best movies! great scripy and Ford & Connery rock! 5 stars
12/03/01 Reini Urban The reference for all adventures 5 stars
11/28/01 John Glenson Best Movie. Most beautiful girl 5 stars
10/08/01 jawsboy excellent action movie. Possibly the best out of the three. ***1/2 to **** stars 4 stars
9/03/01 Connoisseur certainly good, but why didn't they do something different like the second tried to do? 4 stars
8/10/01 keith langman improvment over temple/ losses effect. ford didn't do his owns stunts ruins it. but fun 4 stars
8/07/01 Joe Zappa THE BEST OF THE INDIANA JONES FLICKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The third installment is almost on par with 'Raiders'. Great movie! 5 stars
7/27/01 TLsmooth If you didn't like this, stop watching movies cause you don't know what you are doing. 5 stars
4/02/01 Jesse L Connery was miscast but a very good movie and Harrison is great 4 stars
3/15/01 Richard Wright The action is as good as ever, but its the humour that makes this the best of the series. 5 stars
3/12/01 R.W. Welch The Connery presence is enough to save an essentially routine yarn. 4 stars
2/16/01 Joseph Lewis Simply the best adventure film of all time. Sweeping, globetrotting quest with much humor. 5 stars
2/11/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Cartman, you buttpipe! You wouldn't know a good movie if it slapped you on your fat ass. 5 stars
2/09/01 The Evil Penguin Awesome. HUGE improvement over "Temple of Doom" 5 stars
1/23/01 scorekeeper Great movie- plain and simple 5 stars
12/09/00 fifu a great movie with great music and feel and action 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla At least its better than the second one, my dad loved it 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin Beats the first two Indiana films 5 stars
7/07/00 Henry Jones Jr. WOW! Action and humor mix perfectly! Indy Rules 4 ever! 5 stars
5/31/00 danilo starts boring, but it gets better in the end - complaint: too much like Raiders 4 stars
3/20/00 Deckard A major improvement over the pathetic'Temple',but it still can't touch 'Raiders' 4 stars
3/06/00 Ed more action than the other two, but "Raiders" is still the best 5 stars
2/19/00 Chris Jurewicz One of the best movies I've seen in a long time. With twists and turns Indiana rocks! 5 stars
2/03/00 Richard Wright excellent chemistry between Ford and Connery make this worthwhile.Oh, and great action bits 4 stars
1/20/00 Jedi15 A great movie, but not as good as the first two. Connery is a riot! 4 stars
11/29/99 Mic Ford and Connery make an excellent comic team. 4 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan God's name in Judeo-Christian tradition is Yahveh, not Jehovah. Otherwise great movie. 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Not the best but it still um...kicks ass (as you americans like to put it). 4 stars
6/03/99 Matthew Bartley Harrison and Sean!!IN THE SAME MOVIE!!! 5 stars
12/08/98 Justin Excellant action/adventure outing. Almost as good as Raiders. 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob That one blimp shot keeps it from being 'F.A.' 4 stars
10/09/98 Bluntman "I should have mailed it to the Marx brothers!" 4 stars
9/30/98 bizzy eeeee! wonderful! 5 stars
9/15/98 Negative Creep Raiders maybe a classic but I can see this one over and over again thanks in part to Sean C 5 stars
9/10/98 Bruce Willis' mama. It's Indie. Come on! 4 stars
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  24-May-1989 (PG-13)



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