INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE
The action sequences that Steven Spielberg directs are perfunctorily spectacular. The best is one with Harrison Ford being dragged along by and fighting around the outside of a tank. Also good is a sequence with combatants fighting in a wooden speedboat as it is chewed up by the giant prop of a ship. Spielberg aims for an eye-popping sensationalism, staging massive Nazi rallies, sending exploding speedboats skidding across the water at high-speed, impaling trucks on tank turrets. However, bigger is not necessarily more enervating and, along with some optical work that is uncharacteristically shoddy for Industrial Light and Magic, only serves to expose the merely proficient calculatedness at the heart of the exercise. Despite the insistent emphasis on the spectacular elsewhere, the climactic venture into the temple in Mesopotamia seems flat.
Steven Spielberg is not a comedy director when he tries comedy it comes out as overinflated slapstick. There is an awful slapstick sequence where a Messerschmidt goes skidding down a road tunnel with its wings creamed off and the pilot waving to drivers that recalls the numbing excess of Spielbergs 1941 (1979) disaster. Or where Sean Connery uses his umbrella to stir up a flock of gulls and down another oncoming plane. Even Adolf Hitler is the subject of an elaborately staged slapstick gag, which, one feels, is, along with the buffoonish German characters the film presents, a sad undermining of the real evil that Nazism represented. (The contrast between the Nazis here and the ones in Steven Spielbergs Schindlers List (1993) is at mind-bogglingly opposite poles of the spectrum). Alison Doodys heroine is also bland, lacking in the feistiness of a Karen Allen. Even Kate Capshaws screaming blonde in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom had more life than Doody does here.
All is not quite lost. Harrison Ford is back with infectiously lopsided smirk in place and is amusingly paired with Sean Connery in a rare comedy role as his bumbling father. (Although considering the actual age difference between the two actors, Sean Connerys character would have had to have fathered Indiana when he was twelve years old). The crusty sparring between the two is this entrys most inspired touch. The film is at its best when trying to give a resonance to the series mythology such as the extended opening teaser with River Phoenix as the young Indiana that shows how he found the fedora and the bullwhip.
Over the next two decades, there were numerous plans for an Indiana Jones 4, which went through numerous script rewrites and rejections before emerging as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). Following Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, George Lucas spun the character out into a tv series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992-3). In the tv series, Indiana Jones was played by three people Sean Patrick Flanery in his teens, Corey Carrier in his pre-teens and by George Hall as a cranky old man framing each story in the present day. In each episode, Indiana would implausibly encounter some 20th Century historical figure. The tv series focus also differed markedly from the film series where the emphasis was no longer on adventure but on presenting a pseudo-educational historical forum.
Steven Spielbergs other genre films are: Duel (1971), Jaws (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Twilight Zone The Movie (1983), Always (1989), Hook (1991), Jurassic Park (1993), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), A.I. (2001), Minority Report (2002), War of the Worlds (2005), The Adventures of Tintin (2011) and The BFG (2016).