Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade [retro review]

“Don’t call me Junior!”

The Scoop: 1989 PG-13, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and River Phoenix

Tagline: Have the adventure of your life keeping up with the Joneses.

Summary Capsule: When Indy’s dad gets nabbed by the Nazis and there’s a massive treasure hunt for the Holy Grail, the fedora swings back into action!

Justin’s Rating: Parents… why’d it have to be parents?

Justin’s Review: Do you have friends or family members who you love, but no matter what they say, you instinctively have to take the polar opposite view, whether or not you believe it? It can get ridiculous; for example, you might overhear them saying, “Boy howdy, this water sure is some powerful wet stuff!”, and you simply can’t help yourself piping up, “Pish. I’ve seen wetter. Water is actually fairly dry compared to many liquids in the periodic table of elemental sciences.” While fun and capable of driving friends mad, this sort of thing can be habit-forming.

See, I’m like this a lot with Pooly when it comes to many movies. He says Bubba Ho-Tep is boring and dry, and there’s about no power in the universe that will stop me from loving this movie as if I sired it myself. He claims that popcorn tastes yucky, and even though I loathe popcorn, I will defend to the death the position that there are obscure studies that prove the fluffy starch actually cures some forms of cancer and should be eaten by all. It physically hurts, you understand, to agree with him on some topics, such as the outcome of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

If you’re too lazy to look his review up, Pooly stated what the majority consensus believes: it was a sub-par Jones movie with many flaws that hinders it from the classic status that the first movie in the series attained. I would sure love to disagree, except that on a recent viewing, I discovered I lacked a black enough heart to do so. It wasn’t the best showcase for Indiana Jones, and apart from a handful of pop culture references and its prompting the MPAA to form the PG-13 rating, it wouldn’t hold much value to me whatsoever.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was a brilliant sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark in almost every way that the prequel Temple of Doom was not. There’s a terrific introductory sequence featuring River Phoenix as a young Indy, exploring some of the origins of his character; a couple nasty tombs are waiting to be explored; many countries dying for a visit from the 1989 Just-Call-Me-Indy World Tour; Nazis; Sallah (John Rhys-Davies’ greatest role outside of Gimli); plot twists and turns; and so many action sequences and trademarked humor that you just couldn’t find a fedora big enough to carry it all.

Even so, cynics break out their nitpicking machine for a hefty dose of been-there, done-that comparison with the earlier Indiana Joneses, claiming that little is original in this paint-by-the-numbers studio sequel. Last Crusade does revisit the Nazi threat, a relic of Christian importance (the cup that supposedly held the blood of Christ), sees Raiders alums Sallah and Marcus Brody return, and even features an ending that isn’t too far removed from the opening of the Ark sequence on the island. But as I see it, a really good sequel is a bit like a bride on her wedding day, sporting a bit of the old and a bit of the new, instead of all-new, revolutionary style. Knowing what worked previously, Spielberg and Lucas were free to take the best aspects of the previous films and then marry them to fresh elements, creating a crowd pleaser that could easily stand on its own.

The miraculous addition to the cast was Sean Connery as Indiana Jones’ father. Going back and rewatching this for the hundredth time, it still amazes me that the filmmakers took this potential risk for Indy’s latest sidekick. A hot girl, sure. A loyal Middle Eastern guide, okay. A loud, brash kid, comes standard. But an old fart who invests most of his stock options in tweed and is completely opposite in demeanor to Indy’s high adventure style? Preposterous. More so if you make the guy his dad, something that just isn’t seen in many adventure films, ever. An attractive hero lugging around his senior-menu-ordering pop?

It works, though, it really does. Henry Jones (Connery) doesn’t appear for a good chunk of the movie, but when he does, he establishes an awkward rapport with his son that couldn’t be more natural or humorous. As physical as Indy is, Henry is cerebral, doing his research in books and through intellectual studies. He does share Indy’s obsession with artifacts, while remaining aloof to the dangers and adrenaline rushes of high adventure in the process. It’s hysterical to see Henry accidentally shooting the tail of their own plane (“I’m afraid they got us, son”), taking down a Nazi fighter with an umbrella, or joking with Marcus. Indy’s full ensemble here makes him far more human and likable, instead of a loner anti-hero, and it is sublime.

So since you’re a goose-stepping moron who’d rather watch movies than read books, you can’t forgive yourself to never see this edition of the Jones saga.

"On my last vacation, I got tied up with James Bond!"

Intermission!

  • To help achieve the sound of thousands of rats, sound designer Ben Burtt actually used the higher registers of thousands of chickens.
  • The music playing in the scene where Indy meets Adolf Hitler is adapted from the “K�niggr�tzer Marsch” by Johann Gottfried Piefke
  • Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Pat Roach (Gestapo) are the only actors to appear in all three films in the trilogy. Roach played Giant Sherpa/First Mechanic in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Chief Guard in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • Begins with a shot of a rock in Utah which is reminiscent of the Paramount Pictures logo.
  • When Indy is at Walter Donovan’s, his wife enters the room begging Donovan to join the party, in the background a Star Wars theme can be heard in the background being played on a piano.
  • Shows the origin of Jones’ fear of snakes in Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Although Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford, he plays his father.
  • This the only film in the trilogy where Indiana Jones wears a tie along with his usual attire (fedora, coat, unbuttoned shirt, and whip).
  • Steven Spielberg is on record as saying he made the film for two reasons: 1) to fulfill a three-picture obligation he had with George Lucas, and, 2) to atone for the criticism that he received for the previous installment, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
  • The temple right at the end of the movie exists, but not in Alexandretta. It is in Petra, in Jordan. However, there is no inside to it – the doorway that can be seen on screen is huge, eight or nine people shoulder to shoulder can easily walk thru it. It leads to a huge empty square room carved from the top down over two stories high.
  • Sean Connery and Harrison Ford wore no trousers during the shooting of the entire Zeppelin sequence (mainly because it was filmed in a very hot studio and Connery didn’t want to sweat too much).
  • When it came to filming the rat scene, the producers inquired of their insurer, Fireman’s Fund, whether they were insured if the animals were for some reason indisposed, due to illness, an accident, or simply because they refused to perform. This was a delicate issue, as one lost day of filming can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet the experts at Fireman’s Fund were able to reach a compromise which pleased both sides. They asked the director what would be the least number of rats needed for a dramatic shot. If different camera angles were used, 1,000 rats would probably be sufficient, came the answer. Thus Fireman’s Fund underwrote the world’s first insurance policy with a 1,000-rat deductible.

Groovy Quotes

Henry Jones: You call this archaeology?

Indiana Jones: I told you… don’t call me Junior!

[Encountering a painting of the Ark of the Covenant]
Elsa: What’s this?
Indiana Jones: Ark of the Covenant.
Elsa: Are you sure?
Indiana Jones: Pretty sure.

Indiana Jones: Sallah, I said no camels. That’s five camels. Can’t you count?

Walter Donovan: Germany has declared war on the Jones boys.

Henry Jones: The quest for the grail is not archeology, it’s a race against evil. If it is captured by the Nazis the armies of darkness will march all over the face of the earth. Do you understand me?

Fedora: You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.

Henry Jones: I didn’t know you could fly a plane.
Indiana Jones: Fly, yes. Land, no.

Colonel Vogel: What does the diary tell you that it doesn’t tell us?
Henry Jones: It tells me that goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them.

Indiana Jones: It’s disgraceful, you’re old enough to be her… her grandfather.
Henry Jones: Well, I’m as human as the next man.
Indiana Jones: Dad, I *was* the next man.
Henry Jones: Oh… ships that pass in the night.

Henry Jones: Sorry about the head but I thought that you were one of them.
Indiana Jones: Dad, they come in through the doors.
Henry Jones: Ha, good point.

Indiana Jones: Nazis. I hate these guys.

Henry Jones: My son, we’re pilgrims in an unholy land.

Indiana Jones: Come on, dad. Help me get us out of here. We have to get to Marcus before the Nazis do.
Henry Jones: But you said he had a two day head start. That he would blend in, disappear.
Indiana Jones: Are you kidding? I made all that up. You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum.

Henry Jones: Junior, I have to tell you something.
Indiana Jones: Don’t get sentimental now dad, save it until we get out of here.
Henry Jones: The floor’s on fire… see… AND the chair.

Grail Knight: He chose poorly.

Butler: If you’re a Scottish Lord, then I am Mickey Mouse.

If you liked this movie, try these:

Advertisements

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Elsewhere in SypWorld… « Bio Break

  2. Pingback: Steven Speilberg « Tuesday With Freddy

  3. Pingback: Raiders of the Lost Ark « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s