The film opens with a young Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) on a Boy Scout trip, where we learn the origin of many Indy-related things. We learn how he came to wield a bullwhip, how he got the scar on his chin, what instigated his fear of snakes, and what inspired his awesome leather jacket/fedora combination. It's a fun action sequence, but it doesn't really factor much into the plot.
The movie begins in proper with Professor Indiana Jones (Harrision Ford) being approached a wealthy antiquity collector, Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), to assume leadership over the project he has funded to seek the Holy Grail; the last leader has recently gone missing. Indiana refuses at first, suggesting that Donovan should hire his estranged father, Henry Jones (Sean Connery), because he is one of the most prominent Grail scholars in the world; Donovan replies that he already had --- Henry was the man who went missing. This convinces Indy to follow his father's footsteps, because the only reason anyone would want to capture or hurt Henry was to learn about the Grail; the logic is if you find one, you'll find the other along the way. So, off goes Indiana Jones, on history's greatest scavenger hunt to find Christianity's holiest sacred object. Along the way, he falls for a girl, fights some Nazis, and reunites with his father.
|Charlie Chaplin's dramatic turn|
|That sure looks like a 1912 haircut, Indy.|
|Wrong Holy Grail bridge scene, sorry.|
Speaking of the action scenes, there's a lot of them. The good news is that they're all good. In fact, this film might have the only decent boat chase ever; that's kind of like having the least smelly poop, I know, but it's still an accomplishment. I think these scenes were fit into the film because Spielberg had a checklist of things he wanted Indy to fight ("We've got a tank...a blimp...a boat...how about a Nazi castle?"), but everything flows together pretty well. The great thing about Indiana Jones is that he takes a beating when he's fighting on screen, so nothing ever looks too easy. That's just part of his charm.
Last Crusade is certainly charming, but it is not without its problems. I think it's kind of silly that a famously generous philanthropist (Donovan donates a lot to the museum) is the film's antagonist. Darn those generous evil men who don't value human life! I wish the protectors of the Grail were a little more effective than my beloved Chicago Cubs --- neither has had a big win in 2000-ish years. I'm pretty sure that they didn't shoot a single Nazi in this whole movie. And remember when they lit the catacombs on fire? Indy manages to escape and climb out of a manhole in the street, only to find the Grail guys sprinting out of the library to catch him; shouldn't they have been assuming that Indy was a crispy critter right about then? What made them check out in the street? More to the point, why were they sprinting? You would think two thousand years would have been enough time to practice how to kill people, but I guess you never know until the time comes. I'm also a little confused by the catacomb fire scene on Indy's side of things; if the liquid he is swimming in it petroleum, shouldn't it hurt really, really bad when he opens his eyes under
There's a lot more strangeness going on with the characters. For starters, I am going to have to submit Harrison Ford's (I presume intentionally) awful Scottish accent as one of the cartooniest foreign accents ever to grace a blockbuster picture. What kind of a plan centers on something that stupid? A bad plan, I agree. Too bad it worked. That's nothing compared to the evolution of Marcus Brody. In the original film and the first part of this one, Marcus is a respectable, intelligent academic. From the moment the Grail protectors knock him on the head, though, he becomes a bumbling idiot. "But they're just making him a fish out of water in those later scenes. He's book smart, not street smart." Quiet, you. I stand by "bumbling idiot."
Side note: Indiana Jones is the worst college professor ever. He skips office hours, refuses to grade papers, goes missing for weeks at a time, and your girlfriend has a crush on him.
One of my biggest complaints about Last Crusade is also one of the aspects that makes it so unique --- the humor. I'm pretty certain that Spielberg made a conscious effort to make a more light-hearted movie than Temple of Doom (which helped lead to the creation of the PG-13 rating), and to do so, he added comic relief. Most of that came from the interactions between Henry and Indiana Jones. Comic relief is fine by me, but I wish that Indy wasn't the butt of the jokes; if someone was exasperated or comically injured thanks to Henry, it was usually Indy. It doesn't help that Marcus becomes an idiot halfway through the film, but the majority of the jokes come from Henry. And yet, I like the dynamic between father and son, and I thought both actors did a good job. It's kind of annoying when the one aspect of a film that makes you roll your eyes is also the (pretty effective) heart of the story, too.
That's the kind of movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is; even its worst parts contribute to the film's strengths. Plus, it's got a ton of wicked awesome scenes in it.My personal favorites are the "No tickets" bit on the blimp, and "He chose...poorly."
|...and featuring Christopher Lloyd!|