Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) (PG-13)

Archaeology is back and better than ever when Indiana Jones returns to the screen in another outlandish, action-packed, and quirky adventure movie.
From the start of "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", you can tell that director Steven Spielberg is trying to regain something that he lost. "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" may have been fun, but it just wasn't that great of a movie. It became too cartoonish and too silly to do anyone any I'm not going to mention that annoying woman.
So right off the bat, Spielberg is making references to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in order to bring life back into the series...and it worked.
The movie starts like the first one, except in 1912. Young Indiana (played by River Phoenix, the James Dean of his age) happens upon some men uncovering and stealing a relic that he believes should belong in a museum. So he takes it away from them...simple as that.
After a wild chase and some snakes later, he is cornered by the sheriff and is forced to return the relic, a golden cross of substantial value. This only strengthens his resolve to become an action hero—um, I mean, an archaeologist!
So now it's 1938 off the Portuguese coast and Indiana (Harrison Ford returning to his money making role) has tracked down the man who has the cross. He is going to take it back.
After that little run-in, it's back to the classroom where Spielberg essentially replicates the opening scenes from "Raiders of the Lost Ark"—some could find this annoying, I found it amusing. Dr. Indiana Jones is the well-liked professor who gets summoned by a man named Walter Donovan (Julian Glover) who tells him of the Holy Grail.
This is not Monty Python—Dr. Jones is told that he is needed to find the grail, which will bring eternal life. He refuses at first, but then learns that his father was on the project and has disappeared..great.
Now he has to track down his father (the delightful Sean Connery) and get to the Holy Grail before the Nazis do...yes, there are more Nazis in this one.
Like any good series, the third movie in the "Indiana Jones" series finds ways to make fun of itself. It's not serious, but it does add a layer of thin believability to the story. That is, for a plot that consists of the Holy Grail and Hitler. If you look at "The Temple of Doom" and the this film, you find yourself engaging a lot more.
"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is a movie about obsession, fathers, and religion. Like the first movie, "The Last Crusade" deals with a Christian relic of immense power. First it was the Ark of the Covenant and now it's the Holy Grail (the cup that Jesus drank from at the Last Supper).
On the way to saving his father, Indiana meets Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody), who is a thousand times better than the last token women.
Admit it, this series is cruel to women—they don't have enough parts and rarely play a realistic character.
I think that Elsa is the best of the movies: she's intelligent, witty, courageous (though not a superhero), and observant.
Indiana was obsessed with the golden cross, now his obsession is focused on getting his father back. But dad is more interested in getting the Holy Grail.
In the end, this isn't a philosophical movie...if you're tracking the obsessiveness (as I was), you'll be disappointed. Basically, if you're Indiana Jones, it's great to be you—if you're anyone else: too bad.
Like I said, don't over think it.
The stunt work, as in the first two, is great. The effects are fun and the action is exciting.
Breaking its own stereotypes, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" is the best of the series.
I'm not sure I will watch "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" because I'd like to remember the series going out on a high note.

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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