Thursday, December 25, 2014

Movie #289: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade is the third movie in the series, and stars Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliot, John Rhys-Davies, Alison Doody, and Julian Glover.

We open in 1912, where a young Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) is working to get an artifact away from the clutches of some grave-robbers. Fast forward to 1938, and Indy (Ford) is going after the same piece, which he manages to steal back and give to his university, to the delight of his friend Marcus (Elliot).

Indy is then approached by a rich philanthropist named Donovan (Glover) who enlists him to continue his quest for the Holy Grail - originally spearheaded by his father (Connery), who has made the Grail his lifelong pursuit. He hooks up (in both senses of the word) with Dr. Schneider, an Austrian historian (Doody), and discovers his father being held prisoner by the Nazis - and that both Schneider and Donovan are working with them.

Of course Indy escapes, and of course he finds the Grail by getting past some traps, and then they escape and ride off into the sunset. Unlike the Ark of the Covenant, the Grail is lost forever, but Indy reconnects with his father.

It would easy to see this as a carbon copy of Raiders, in some ways; the villains are Nazis, they're after a Judeo-Christian magic item, there are booby traps, but the themes are different and so is the tone. Indy is better realized as a character by now, and with the addition of Connery as his father, his "sidekick" becomes not just a lover or a kid he picked up along the way, but someone he has a real connection to. You got that somewhat with Marion Ravenwood in Raiders, but the interplay between father and son, especially since they're both archaeologists, makes for some good scenes (a lot of which were written uncredited by Tom Stoppard, by the way).

Connery is Connery; they gave him a more "old man" look, as he's actually not that much older than Ford. Elliot as Brody has more to do this time around, but it's fun to see both him and Rhys-Davies as Sallah fall back into their Raiders roles after being snubbed in the awful that was Temple of Doom. Alison Doody is also fun as Schneider, Indy's only love interest turn villain. So she's a lot like a Bond girl, and he's Indy being the spiritual "son" of Bond, because Bond plays his father. Pretty neat.

Teagan said she liked Raiders better; she enjoyed the more scholarly approach they take in that movie, I think. Or maybe it's just there's more kissing in Last Crusade, I dunno.

My grade: A
Rewatch value: Medium-high

Next up: Innocent Blood