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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Throwback Thursday review


Directed by #StevenSpielberg

Film review by Nathanial Eker

By far the most effective film in the "Indy" saga, The Last Crusade remains an emotive, thrilling, and enduring adventure film. It's also the funniest in the series, thanks in no small part to the natural wit and comic timing of Sean Connery as Henry Jones Sr. Indeed, the dynamic between father and son helps Last Crusade stand out as a stellar blockbuster, a rip-roaring nostalgia trip, and the quintessential Indiana Jones experience.

After the events of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is back and on the hunt for both the Holy Grail and his father (Connery). Those pesky Nazis are back too, and it's the eve of WWII. Suddenly it becomes up to Indy and his Dad to stop Walter Donovon (Julian Glover) from obtaining everlasting life and allowing the Third Reich to conquer the world.

Last Crusade perfectly marries its precedessors' greatest traits. It effectively combines Raiders' compelling storyline and homages to classic cinema with Temple of Doom's frantic pace and comedic moments. However, where the latter film relied on offensive cultural stereotypes and gross-out moments, Last Crusade has a staggeringly effective trick up its sleeve: Sean Connery. The casting could not be more appropriate, as the James Bond series is often considered the spiritual father of Spielberg and Lucas' equally iconic adventure saga.

Though there's just twelve years between them, the strained parental relationship between the Jones boys is entirely believable. Fortunately for the audience, the two spend the majority of the film bickering; something that could've become more annoying than endearing in the hands of lesser actors. However, Jones Sr. isn't all comic relief. Connery brings a level of authenticity to the character and at times portrays him as a cold, distant father as well as a bumbling historian. An interesting side effect of this performance is the diminishment of Indiana Jones' more "cool" qualities, as Ford is reduced to playing an eternal stroppy teenager riddled with Daddy issues. However, this only makes the character more three-dimensional and relatable and gives Jones Jr. some well needed depth.

Like Raiders and Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade is a love letter to 80s prosthetics and practical effects. However, the unearthly demise of the villainous Donovan marks a rare appearance of late 80s CGI. Unfortunately, this effect hasn't aged well, and what 80s kids will remember as a nightmare-inducing fatality is pretty laughable by today's standards.

What isn't laughable, however, is the work of John Williams. I may sound like a broken record by now, but Williams really is the heart and soul of the franchise, and the credit is due. Last Crusade not only builds on musical motifs from prior films, it also introduces new classics, such as themes for Indy and Henry and the Holy Grail. The use of Raiders' iconic Ark theme during the film's first third is also a delightful bit of fan service for long-term Indy fanatics.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the pinnacle of the franchise. A single dodgy bit of CGI aside, there's virtually nothing to dislike about this uplifting and heart-warming cap to the trilogy.

Now if only Spielberg had left it at three...



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