This week Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is out. I don’t want to call it the ‘last nail in the coffin’ of Dr Jones, but it’s not looking good. I’m going to see it on Wednesday, so I thought it was a good time to sit down and watch the other movies again. You really never need an excuse to sit down and watch the Indiana Jones trilogy. I have watched all three and here is a brief overview of each of them.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Back in the day, when Hollywood would take chances on new IPs, we were introduced to the man in the hat, Indiana Jones. The story of how he came about is that George Lucas was having a break from all the hype about a little movie he made called Star Wars. He was with his good friend, Steve Spielberg, and they came up with a new action hero.
He was an archaeologist, but not the ‘sitting around in a hole dusting bones’ type. He was an adventurer, an action man. The story they came up with was of Dr. Jones fighting the Nazis as they looked for the Ark of Covenant, the same one from the bible.
Nice and simple, but man, what a movie. This was at the height of Spielberg’s filmmaking. He had a magic that is rarely seen. It is a combination of amazing direction, a compelling story, a musical score made by a legend, and it just adds up to an all-round great movie.
No, not just a great movie. Easily one of the best movies ever made. It is as close to perfect as you can get. Harrison Ford is perfect. The music is perfect. The direction is perfect. You cannot fault this movie.
Temple of Doom
Now, I will be honest, this is my least favorite of the trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an amazing movie, but it’s just personally my least favorite. This story is set before Raiders, in true George Lucas fashion, and has Indiana pitted against a cult in India.
On the one hand, you have Short Round, played by Ke Huy Quan. Indy’s little sidekick was great fun and a cool addition. On the other hand, you have Willie, played by Kate Capshaw. One is great to watch, the other is the very definition of ‘damsel in distress’. Willie is whiny, screams most of the time, and is pretty much there for eye candy, nothing else. I’m going to be honest, as eye candy she’s not all that.
Fortunately, though, the rest of the movie is great. More action and adventure, a little bit of voodoo, and magic stones. Again, apart from Willie, it’s a pretty faultless movie.
The Last Crusade
I like this one as much as the first. This time we have Indiana looking for the Holy Grail, the Cup of Christ. The Nazis are back, looking for the same thing. What does change though is one of the most perfect bits of casting you can imagine. Indiana’s dad is played by Sean Connery.
The chemistry between Ford and Connery is just the best. A father and son who haven’t really been all that close, but they are drawn together in the search for Grail. I still really like this movie, it’s fun, it has adventure and it ends perfectly. It literally has the heroes riding off into the sunset.
Perfection! There is no other word to describe these movies. As I said, they were all made at the height of Spielberg’s magical era. When you watch them again, you see how his direction is so beautiful, not overly complex, and just a joy to watch. With what is mostly perfect casting, alongside John Williams’s score, the photography, the editing… perfection.
The way Spielberg lets the story play out, with amazing action, with gentle bits of humor is great. When you see movies by James Gunn or Taiki Waititi, you can see exactly where they have started going over the top with the humor, to the point of taking you completely out of the movie. In this trilogy, you can see it done right. If you’re going to be overly picky about the series, sure, some of the special effects don’t hold up today. This is a bit of a downer in places, but that doesn’t take away the amazing set pieces and the stunt performers, who are just amazing in these movies.
I love the little things too. I talked about the casting and Spielberg would use people from leftfield now and again. Ronald Lacey, who played the badass Nazi, Toht, was best known in the UK for his comedy role in a series called Porridge. In Porridge he played a little character called Harris, a weasel. To see him as a ruthless Nazi was odd, but also great casting. The same could be said for William Hootkins, Alexei Sayle, and Dan Aykroyd. They were all known as funny men, but played fairly serious roles here. Kubrick used to do the same thing, with Peter Sellers and Leonard Rossiter as examples.
Having a partnership like Spielberg and John Williams is again, perfection. Back in the day, Williams wrote scores where all you had to hear was one note, and you knew the movie. He has written some of the most amazing theme tunes of all time. You don’t get that these days. Can you hum the theme of Avengers? Man of Steel? In fact, any of the superheroes? The only one I can remember is Wonder Woman, but that’s because it’s ludicrously overused in the movie.
The Indiana Jones Trilogy is one of the best movie series of all time and I will fight anyone who thinks differently. I mean, I probably won’t win, but I will fight you! This, though, brings us to after the trilogy. I will be watching, and reviewing, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
I know, I know, but I am hoping, by watching Crystal Skull, it might prepare me for Indiana’s last adventure this week. We all know Indiana Jones finished at Petra and nothing else exists, but here we are. For those of you who have never seen Crystal Skull, and don’t plan on watching Dial of Destiny, I salute you.
The Indiana Jones Trilogy has a perfect score.
Check back every day for movie news and reviews at the Last Movie Outpost