Indiana Jones returns to form in The Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

In order to catch up on the overwhelming backlog of movies I intend to cover here on this blog, this blogger is going to keep it brief with a few disconnected bullet points:

• Re-watching the original trilogy as an adult is an interesting experience; even the first time around as a kid I was right: Raiders of the Lost Ark is excellent, rip-roaring fun, The Temple of Doom is borderline offensive crap, and The Last Crusade is thankfully a return to form. Gone are the annoying kids and mean-spirited xenophobia, and back are the Nazi-punching and Judeo-Christian overtones.

• After a fun pre-credit sequence set in 1912 Utah (featuring the late River Phoenix doing a brilliant Harrison Ford impression), The Last Crusade is set in 1938. The previous installment was set prior to the first, neatly sidestepping any hint of Indy dumping Marion (Karen Allen). Apparently Spielberg and Lucas stopped caring, and this time just went ahead and implied that he did, after all.

• The biggest area of improvement over the lamentable Temple of Doom is in the “Indy Girl” department. After the spunky Marion and the ditzy Willie, we were due for a third stereotype: the femme fatale. Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) is both a worthy love interest and nemesis to Indiana Jones. And Henry Sr. (Sean Connery) totally hit that! Way to go, old man.

• Why did Elsa wait until the most dramatic moment to reveal her true identity, and capture Indy and the diary? The woman has a knack for melodrama.

• Fun fact: Each film in the series starts with the Paramount logo mirrored in a landscape or prop.

• Must read: Indiana Jones and the Fonts on the Maps, an analysis of the anachronistic typographic choices made in the films’ iconic animated maps (via Daring Fireball).

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