Hello and thank you for stopping by. To both new faces and frequents, allow me to introduce myself as your conductor for this evening. Since we are approaching blockbuster season (or lack thereof!), it was about time I revisited Indiana Jones in all of his whip-cracking glory. Leading a life foiling the dastardly plots of Nazis and hunting down various relics, the series taught students to never underestimate their archaeology professor, Harrison Ford or not. Although the others are mostly flawed films, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade are, in my opinion, two of the best action-adventures that Hollywood has ever produced. But which is better? Let’s get this show on the road and face a danger almost as risky as the Third Reich; determining my favorite Indiana Jones!
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Review
Daring adventurer Indiana Jones is recruited by the U.S government to help unearth the renowned Ark of the Covenant, a casket said to contain the biblical Ten Commandments. On a globetrotting search from Cairo to Nepal, Indy and his former sweetheart Marion find themselves hunted down by the nefarious Rene Belloq and his German brigade. Will they stop the Nazis from obtaining the Ark’s insurmountable powers?
Ah yes, the one that started the whole thing. Let us pause for a moment of respect… anyways, this movie is amazing! Sure, it may not go down in history as an intellectual masterpiece, nor is that what the film is trying to accomplish. It is what I have dubbed a “popcorn movie” (noun. a motion picture intended to be easy-to-digest entertainment, often times being a Summer blockbuster or having a charismatic hero in the main role).
Keep in mind that I don’t necessarily feel that these popcorn movies are below others just because they are simply to give crowds a good time. Even when done wrong, it’s still respectable. But on the certain occasions when the formula is done remarkably well, you come out with Raiders of the Lost Ark. There are a couple of issues scattered throughout; nothing is perfect, after all. But when your flick is this polished, funny, and has Nazis heads exploding like balloons, then how can I possibly be too critical. Now if the movie was called Indiana Smith like the concept instead, we’ll have an entirely different story on our hands.
An entertaining and fun film that, like Gene Siskel once said, might even inspire younger generations to borrow a camera and make movies themselves. I know I was surely one of them! Ignore all the Fellini and the Godard, the Hitchcock or Tati. Sometimes a popcorn flick done with excellency is enough to satisfy me.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989) Review
An archaeologist has recently gone missing on his pursuit of the Holy Grail, a goblet said to grant eternal life. Upon discovering that it was his own father, Indiana Jones continues in his expedition, teaming up with Marcus Brody, Sallah, Elsa Schneider, and of course, Professor Henry Jones Sr. It is a race against the clock once more for Indiana and his allies to thwart the unscrupulous aspirations of the Nazis. Will they be pure at heart, and what will happen to those who aren’t?
Let’s be real here, this gives Raiders a run for its money. Following the darkly violent Temple of Doom, this installment comes full circle and readopts the more light-hearted tone. Arguably the freshest element added here is the estranged relationship between father and son. This outing earnestly is the first of the trilogy (let’s just ignore the fourth one…) where Indy feels like he grew as a character from the beginning to the end. What can this be attributed to? You guessed right, that would be the bond with his dad. In addition, the adventure has more of a personal aspect to it. Dare I say that this may be my favorite feature to watch on Father’s Day. Hey, the holiday is on June 20 this year, just saying.
Furthermore, the action sequences are as stellar as they have ever been; the tank and rotating wall scenes were highlights. Marcus Brody, Indiana’s likeable and buffoonish academic mentor, is among the great ensemble of characters too. Similar to Raiders though, the villains aren’t exactly the most compelling, but c’mon… they’re just Nazis on the highway to get their flesh melted off their bones. Not much of a spoiler, really. A nice touch of Indiana Jones’ humanity is also displayed near the end when he offers to save a secondary antagonist, but the demise of the latter can only be blamed on their own greed. Chef’s kiss, right there.
Nearly everything in this film is pitch-perfect, from the acting to the fights and even the unexpected emotional weight. You want a quintessential “popcorn movie”? My recommendation would definitely be either of these two Indiana Jones entries, no doubt about it. There was never a dull moment, from the second it began until the perfect final shot of Indy and his pals riding off into the sunset.
So yeah, two remarkably superb films yet again. I sat on whether Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade was the winner overall, but I killed two birds with one stone and just made both of them the best. What can I say, I guess I’m a man of culture. Thank you bunches for tuning in and I wish you a good Memorial Day. Later!
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