Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Jeffrey Boam, George Lucas, and Menno Meyjes
Let’s face it, Indiana Jones is at his best when he is fighting Nazis and I thought this movie really brought the franchise full circle and made it what it was. I think when your first sequel runs amuck you go back to square one and do things right the next time around. That’s exactly what this movie did when it went back to fighting Nazis and brought back a couple of characters from the first film. Opening the movie with somewhat of an origin story was an excellent touch that went on to spawn a television series that I remember watching in my youth. This was an altogether better film than Temple of Doom, and I will even go as far as to say that it rivals Raiders of the Lost Ark in the franchise. Raiders is hard to top, but this comes as close as it gets and did plenty to create the marketability of the franchise.
I really think it is awesome that the franchise went back to the Nazis in the third film, being set in 1938. It really disappoints me how the fourth film played out. I have always thought that the greatest story line for a continuation of the franchise would go back to the Nazis again. Sometime during WWII specifically. I mean, what was Indy doing during “The Great War”? As a big time American enemy of the Nazis there should be little doubt there was a story line there. Unfortunately we got something at a later date that ultimately settled around aliens. Two thumbs way down on that. I can’t remember where I heard it but I remember being told George Lucas was to thank for the direction of the fourth film. Another reason I despise the man that so many people love.
I think they really got back to the Indiana Jones roots in this movie, literally in fact. River Phoenix was great as the young Indiana Jones. This movie specifically is what I know the actor from and growing up knew his brother Joaquin much better. I am a big fan of Joaquin Phoenix actually, despite his problems. I expect nearly every day to find out he followed the same path as his brother and died from some kind of overdose but am always grateful when it doesn’t happen. River Phoenix of course died of an accidental drug overdose at the age of twenty three with all the promise of a successful and fantastic acting career ahead of him. His brother Joaquin shares his talents as well as his tendencies towards drugs unfortunately. His troubles are well known but I am a fan nonetheless, I think he is a great actor. River could have been a great actor as well, and this movie as well as any he was in proves as much. I thought he owned the role of the young Indiana Jones and I like how they explained the scar on his chin, a scar Harrison Ford got on his own that has been with him forever.
Harrison Ford again is great in the title role, he is the man that so many of us grew up with and idolized. People will argue that Han Solo was a better role but I don’t think it got any better than Indiana Jones for Harrison Ford. It was the role of a lifetime and he was very good at it. I really like that they brought back Denholm Elliott and John Rys-Davies for this movie. It made their characters more important to the franchise and I liked that. Alison Doody served well enough in the female lead despite her name. She was beautiful and played her part well but it never took her anywhere. I really liked Sean Connery in the part as Indy’s father, although it doesn’t make much sense for our ultra-American hero to have a father with an English accent. Connery was one of the actors that proved age couldn’t slow down someone who was good at what he does and this movie played a big part in that. Harrison Ford plays a really strong character in Indiana Jones and it took a strong actor to play the part of the man that humbled him. I think Connery did that in the deft fashion of a seasoned actor who knew his trade. He brought a lot to the movie while not stealing the scene and I think it set the stage for all his roles to come over the following ten years.
For what Julian Glover lacks in the role of the lead villain Michael Byrne makes up for in spades. General Vogel was evil and intimidating while Walter Donavon was just a weasel. It was a bit of a twist when Dr. Schneider turned out to be bad but Indy should have been smarter than to fall for a beautiful blonde with a German accent. I do think it is weird that the movie implies that she had a relationship with both father and son but I suppose that was her job.
Indiana Jones jousts with a Nazi in this movie on motorcycles while he is armed with a flag against a machine gun and Indy wins, need I say more? This movie did as much as Raiders of the Lost Ark for the Indiana Jones franchise and it is more than worth your time. I grew up with this as the completion of the series and it turns out that things would have been better off that way. I was really disappointed with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull despite how much money it made. There were parts that appealed to me as a fan but overall it was a disappointment and I wish the franchise had simply been left with this. It is an awesome movie and proved to be incapable of being outdone twenty years later.
NEXT MOVIE: Inglousious Basterds (2009)