Confessions of an INDIANA JONES Virgin: Allison Watches THE LAST CRUSADE for the First Time

by     Posted 1 year, 175 days ago

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Our daily series where Allison Keene watches the Indiana Jones movies for the first time. Read her intro/explanation here, and here’s her reviews of Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom)

Praise be to the sequel gods for The Last Crusade, which did right by the franchise by stabilizing things from the shaky ground of Temple of Doom.  After I had some time to digest that later film I still think it’s the odd man out in the franchise (so far).  It’s a B-movie from front to back, and while that’s not a bad thing on its own, it just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the Indiana movies.  For Last Crusade, Steven Spielberg wisely returned things to their Lost Ark roots: Nazis, Biblical artifacts, and a new PG-13 rating.  After what I had seen under the PG banner in the last two films, I was practically expecting a two hour orgy of sex and death.  Instead, I got a really funny and engaging movie.  Whodda thunk?  Hit the jump for why this was definitely the best of the franchise.

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusadeThe time jumps have never made a lot of sense to me.  Why did we jump back in time in the second installment just to yo-yo forward in the third, especially when there’s no relationship continuity to keep track of?  Short Round never turned up again, neither did Marion (which surprised me).  In fact, the Ravenwoods seem to be forgotten entirely — whatever happened to Abner Ravenwood, supposedly Indy’s mentor, who disappeared while searching for the Ark?  We never hear of him again.

Instead, Sean Connery appears as Indy’s father, who was lost searching for the Grail, essentially taking Abner’s spot.  Connery could have played Abner easily, but it wouldn’t have been allowed the nuances of the father-son relationship.  Plus there would have been The Marion Question. So, ultimately, it was a great move though to include Henry Jones, not only because we got an “Indiana Jones: Origins” vignette starring River Phoenix (R.I.P. sweet prince) to help introduce his (at this point unseen) presence, but because of the way Connery and Harrison Ford played off of each other throughout the rest of the film.  It was fantastic.  It even made me forget, briefly, that they spoke not once but twice about having slept with the same woman.  Yikes.

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusadeThe woman in question, Elsa (Alison Doody), a.k.a. Fraulein Hotness, made me give up any last hopes I had of the franchise producing anything close to a strong female character, but she did have really wonderful hair and dressing gowns, and some really vogue desert goggles.  There are so many issues with logic that have to be completely ignored (like, the sworn Brotherhood did a really poor job of protecting the Grail, didn’t they?) but you know what, damnit, this movie was just fun. Marcus was back, Sallah was back, the Nazis were back (even Hitler!), and all provided some genuinely hilarious moments.  The writing on Last Crusade was miles above the other films, and the cast came together in a way they really hadn’t done before (I am mostly giving props to Connery for this).  Above all, we find out that Indiana named himself after a dog?  Fantastically weird way to end things.

Except it’s not over … unfortunately?  Tomorrow: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

By the way, has anyone ever loved museums as much as Indy?  I mean, he is ready to die for their right to preserve artifacts.

Bottom line: The best of the trilogy, because while Raiders of the Lost Ark had many of the same general elements, Last Crusade really capitalized on them.

indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade-2Last Crusade Roundup:

Favorite Character(s): Marcus, Papa Jones, Sallah, the stamping librarian.

Least Favorite Character(s): The lackeys from the origin stories.

How About No: The rats.  I’m with Henry Jones on this one. 

Historical Moment: Alexander the Great renamed almost all of his conquered cities after himself.  After awhile this got confusing, so he started mixing it up with names like “Alexandretta.” That city was later renamed “Iskenderun” by Arab conquerers, although Iskenderun still means Alexander.

WTF? Moment: Er, a lot.  But unlike Temple of Doom which seemed to only trade on the absurd and augmented it with shallow sentimentality, Last Crusade glossed over it with humor. 

Professor Jones: I still maintain that Indy as a Professor is kind of ridiculous, but once again his classroom scenes with the adoring hordes was pretty funny. I also liked the juxtaposition of his lecture on how X never marks the spot, and then of course later it did. Nice little call-back.

What worked best: We didn’t really need the origin story, but I’m glad we got it because it was cute and tied in nicely with the rest of the movie.  Plus the animatronics with some of the animals (like the rhino) were great.

Best Death: The death by tank crushing was standard, the beheading was well-rendered, but nothing can touch the turning into a corpse from the bad Grail.  It upped the ante from Lost Ark’s finale of a melting Nazi, and that was hard to do.  Here it is in GIF form.

Best Quotes: “No water, fish make love in it” – Marcus. “I should have mailed my diary to the Marx Brothers” – Henry.  “You were named after a dog??” – Sallah

Check back tomorrow for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

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  • million

    Still don’t get that Abner Ravenwood is dead,huh? Marion stated that pretty clearly in Raiders.

    • Harry Palm

      No kidding. I wanted to shove my head into the internet and scream at her “ABNER IS DEAD, DUMBASS! HE’S DEAD! DEAD DEAD DEAD!!!”. It’s so clearly stated in the the first movie that I don’t even understand how she could have missed it. Did she go to the bathroom and not pause the movie? I mean, Indy asks Marion where Abner is and she says “Abner’s dead.” It doesn’t get much clearer than that!

      • indy42

        Came to the comments just to say something about this.

        A good paragraph or two are entirely based around the fact that Allison doesn’t get that Abner is six feet under… It’s a little worrying, actually. He’s friggin dead!

    • Jim

      We can safely say Allison did not read the comments on her Raiders of the Lost Ark review. At least a handful of people corrected her on Abner.

      • Redjester

        Can we also safely say that Allison must have been playing her Nintendo Wii while talking on her cell while watching the film on split screen with reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the bigger split screen?

        Nothing else explains the gross character generalizations/ exaggerations and dead-wrong plot points in her reviews.

    • Brandon

      “Where’s Abner?” – Indy
      “Abner’s dead” – Marion

      Pretty clear.

  • Indy, Star Wars Fan

    I am genuinely curious to find out if a new comer’s perspective like Allison’s will come to the obvious conclusion that eluded countless fans of the original Indiana Jones trilogy: that KOTCS is more than perfectly in tone with the rest of the films and honors that legacy with another fantastic, fun, camp, thrilling, B movie adventure.

    Hate for this film is simply spill-over from butt hurt prequel haters who need to skewer Lucas again for repeating ‘faults’ that were already present in the film in question’s previous installments. Whether it is the inflatable raft sky diving from TOD or any musical number from ROTJ, you’ll always see ‘fans’ rush to defend those episodes in the name of sentimentality and attack nuked fridges and Anakin in love for being new. Use your critical thinking skills. All the films have moments of ridiculousness and dodgy film making. Don’t pick and choose which ones you see and don’t see.

    • GrimReaper07

      Agreed. It’s all pretty ridiculous and silly and nearly as good as 1 and 3, but its still sort of ok. I had a good time overall, something I can’t say for Temple of Doom.

    • Harry Palm

      Indiana Jones survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator despite the fact that he’s blown miles away and crashes into the earth. A group of monkeys with pompadours somehow knows which guys are bad guys and which guys are good guys. John Hurt’s character does nothing in the entire movie. Marion does nothing in the movie. Shia LaBouf plays a greaser. The CGI is terrible. CGI gophers were stupid. The plot was stupid. Indiana Jones goes to a Mayan temple in Peru despite the fact that the Mayans lived in Mexico and Belize and it was the Incans that lived in Peru. You would think a noted archaeologist would know that.

      People hate ‘Crystal Skull’ because it was an insultingly stupid movie that was made purely to make money. Not a single person involved with the movie gave the slightest crap about it and the only one that even wanted to make the damn thing was George Lucas because he knew the movie would make a billion dollars no matter how bad it was. They cranked out a piece of crap and collected their checks. No human being with an IQ in the triple digits could watch that vile abomination and not be disgusted by it. I HATE the movie, I HATE the people that made it, and I HATE anyone inbred, moronic halfwit that likes it.

      • Eric

        Oh man, now that is one well-written comment about Crystal Skull. Can’t believe we waited 19 years for….THAT

      • Northern Star

        Wow! The single greatest review of KOTCS known to both man and beast… give that guy a staff job someone, talk about cutting through the crap!

        Not even Senor Spielbergo wanted to make a fourth Indy film (and has since publicly apologized for that film) but he just couldn’t say no to George Luca$, and even when both Spielberg and Harrison Ford loved Frank Darabont’s ‘…City of the Gods’ screenplay, Luca$ vetoed it and insisted on the train-wreck revisions that ultimately derailed it.

        ‘Raiders…’ remains the only Indy film that really matters but I’m certainly not averse to watching the two thoroughly decent (if not necessarily equal) sequels, if only it had ended there though…

      • Northern Star

        Actually, as an amendum to my above post, I should correct myself and point out that Spielberg DID want to do one more Indy film, but only if he, Harrison Ford, and Luca$ all agreed on a suitable script… of which I point anyone and everyone to Frank Darabont’s 140-page ‘… City of the Gods’ screenplay (dated November 2003) and decide for yourselves whether it would have been a worthwhile endeavor overall or whether they should have left it with ‘…Last Crusade’ in 1989. Bear in mind had Luca$ approved it, Darabont would have likely refined and revised it prior to production, so any flaws or faults might well have been ironed out before cameras started rolling.

        My opinion is Darabont’s script was an excellent one, although it still needed a final spit-and-polish, but overall had this script made it to screen, it would have been both a fantastic return and a rousing closer to the Indiana Jones saga, alas, it never happened that way…

    • indy42

      Agreed.

      I think the problem with KOTCS is that (and I say this as a huge Indiana Jones fan, as you could probably guess from my username) people forgot, between Last Crusade and KOTCS, that it’s all a homage to republic adventure serials. They’re supposed to be over-the-top, ridiculous fun. It seems like people elevated the original trilogy to the level of epic drama, and were put off by the “silliness” of KOTCS.

      Is KOTCS a great movie? No, of course not. It can’t hold a candle to Raiders or Last Crusade, but it’s still a good, solid one, slightly better than Temple, I’d say.

      • Hop

        I like KOTCS. I like it. I really do. It’s enjoyable, fun, silly, and a homage to B-movies. It’s not a bad movie, no!

    • Lance

      I think what separates KOTCS most from the other movies is that they’re drawing mostly from films of the 1950s now, not the serials of the ’30s and ’40s like the previous entries.

      The dialogue is a lot clunkier in KOTCS, and there are some boring sequences that go on far too long. And I haven’t even brought up the Tarzan scene (the fridge doesn’t bother me so much).

    • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/‎ tarek

      Not at all.

      I would have loved to love this Crystal thing, but alas it felt apart. Why ?

      -Because of the “Nuke the fridge”. This is not a cartoon boys.

      -Because Harrison Ford was trying miserably to make stunts that showed us how old and peaky he was. It destroyed the myth for me. This movie came too late.

      -The E.T plot was horrible. Till now I don’t get it. This is not X-Files.

      Even the music wasn’t epic like the last 3 indy scores.

    • Guy Smiley

      It’s still a disappointing film, IMO, and it’s my least favorite of the four, but it’s not entirely without its merits. There’s some fun moments, and while Marion’s return isn’t all that I wanted it to be it was still great to have her back.

      The character of Mac, however, is my biggest problem with the film. He’s obnoxious, completely unlikable, and it’s hard to believe that Indy could possibly be friends with that snake (pun intended) of a man. Hell, it’s hard to believe that, while they served together, someone from his own platoon didn’t shoot him in the back. There really wasn’t a place for Sallah in this movie, but I missed not having him there. Mac was just a mistake.

      Shia swinging with the monkeys was a bit much, and Cate Blanchett’s villain seemed underserved by the script… What was with her supposed powers that basically went unused? She was just never much of a threat. The big climax of the film was a sort of WTF? moment too, but I guess it wasn’t the only WTF moment of the series.

      In spite of all those gripes, I find Crystal Skull cheesy, fairly stupid fun. Watchable, but only just, thanks to some fun scenes and Ford’s and Allen’s charisma. Even Shia had his moments. But compare it with Raiders and it’s easy to see why so many people dislike it. Lucas really needed to stay out of the story process. There was a good movie in there, somewhere, but it didn’t quite make it out.

  • Edstone1

    I liked Temple of Doom…:(

    • chandler Bing

      To each his own bro.

  • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

    …and exactly.

    She admits this film is essentially as unnecessary as the previous and adds nothing to the character, but somehow this film is a better film the first. Just as I predicted yesterday.

    “After what I had seen under the PG banner in the last two films, I was practically expecting a two hour orgy of sex and death.” What? You’re a film minor. You should know more about the history of the PG-13 rating and how it relates to this specific series.

  • Grayden

    I guess I’m still trying to figure out if these are supposed to be reviews, short critiques, or just responses.

    If they’re anything but the first option I’ll give her a pass. If they are indeed reviews…I think I’d rather Goldberg review them.

    • http://thenonessentials.blogspot.com/ Sean Chandler

      You want Goldberg reviews?

      • Grayden

        If these are being presented to us as actual reviews, yeah. Goldberg may be an opinionated dick at times, but he does know film and he does know how to go about framing his reviews. Allison could be showing an inexperienced hand here, and if you were just reading them as a response to the films by a fledgling film fan, that’s one thing. But reading them as reviews by a film minor who has been writing reviews for television shows on this site for the past year or so, you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed.

      • chandler Bing

        Nailed it.

    • Guy Smiley

      Now now, Grayden… Let’s not get hasty here.

  • Aaron Rodriguez

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that in ROTLA Marion stated that Abner was dead. And while I understand the lack of love for TOD, G. Lucas stated it out right. This is the return of Serials to Hollywood. These are chunks of story taken from his life and aren’t known for how the they’re connected. If you want connection, I would refer you to the Young Indiana Jones series.

  • Lizard King

    I really enjoy your reviews, and hearing what a movie fan who never saw these thinks. I don’t know why everyone is so mean about it. They’re just action movies in the end. Great ones, but still, no reason people should be mean about you not having seen them. Plenty of great movies I haven’t seen.

  • Alexander Gates

    I enjoy reading these article series simply as the opinions of a first-time watcher, it’s great to hear about what was enjoyed without all the negativity. I hope you enjoy Kingdom as much as the rest- it’s just as silly, poorly made, and wonderfully magical as the first three! I love them all equally.

  • Guy Smiley

    “I was practically expecting a two hour orgy of sex and death. ”

    Allison, I defended you a bit in the Temple comments, but I hope this comment wasn’t meant to be serious.

    “this was definitely the best of the franchise.”

    While Last Crusade is a fine film, it’s certainly not the wonder that Raiders was. “Crusade” is played for laughs a bit too much, and I didn’t like how they turned Marcus Brody into such a buffoon this time around, but it’s still good. It’s just not the stone cold classic that Raiders is.

    “Why did we jump back in time in the second installment just to yo-yo forward in the third, especially when there’s no relationship continuity to keep track of?”

    Dunno… Fair question, and it is a little strange, I guess, but it’s not a big deal.

    “Short Round never turned up again, neither did Marion (which surprised me).”

    Admittedly, I always had questions about Short Round too. And the way Marion and Indy walk off together at the end of Raiders had me disappointed when she didn’t return.

    I feel like Indy and Marion were shortchanged in the films, and while Crystal Skull could’ve fixed a lot of that it just ended up being sort of disappointing all the same. Mostly because the movie itself is a such colossal disappointment.

    • chandler Bing

      I was GLAD short round did not turn up.

      • Guy Smiley

        I’m not saying he had to show up again… I just wondered what his story was. What happened to his parents/family, why was he chasing off with Indy, and for Indy being his “best friend” it’s just odd that we never find out why he’s not there in Raiders.

        OK, so he’s a kid and calling Indy his “best friend” and all maybe doesn’t mean much. Still, I just wonder what his deal was.

  • Guy Smiley

    “… give up any last hopes I had of the franchise producing anything close to a strong female character,”

    So Marion’s not a strong character?

    Admittedly, it would’ve been nice to have found a way to have her back in Last Crusade, or at least a mention of what happened to her.

    Her return in Crystal Skull, while welcome, seemed more like fan service at that point. Karen Allen mugged her way through that film, and Marion just wasn’t the same. Oh well.

  • Marc

    These “reviews” are painful to read. Lets hope she’s not a 007 virgin as well.

  • MorganFleurDeLys

    The Last Crusade is not the best in the series….

  • Redjester

    Is Allison the same reviewer who hadn’t ever seen Star Wars? If so, she must have some mighty fine connections to have gotten this job. Being a movie buff and not having seen Indiana Jones and Star Wars is equivalent to being a music buff and never having listened to the Beatles or the Stones.

    Some people really do hit the occupation jackpot (without having to do any of the work to get it) it seems.

  • Hop

    The sheer stupidity of these articles make me sick.

  • GuyX

    How err why umm BLAH! I can’t even think straight after reading this garbage. HOW DO YOU WORK FOR A WEBSITE DEDICATED TO FILM GEEKS??? Are you related to someone and nepotism got you this job? Really kid I’m not trying to be mean(ok maybe a little bit) but you have so much naïveté regarding the visual medium(film AND TV) I can’t fathom how you got this job. You got thru life without seeing a single Star Wars or Indy film yet managed to get a job at a website devoted to film/TV geeks. Opinions are one thing, if you don’t like certain movies that’s fine but to have never seen them AT ALL is either BS or something else is going on here.

  • Alan Burnett

    “Instead, Sean Connery appears as Indy’s father, who was lost searching for the Grail, essentially taking Abner’s spot. Connery could have played Abner easily, but it wouldn’t have been allowed the nuances of the father-son relationship.”

    OK, she missed the point that Abner died before the events of the first film. I can understand that, even if I recognized that when I first saw it (as a four year-old). And she didn’t bother to read the comments section: again, I don’t care. However, what I don’t understand is her OBSESSION with Abner. Abner, Abner, Abner … who gives a shit? Her capacity to imprint so many emotions and thoughts on Abner is baffling, especially when she sees Connery as Abner-esque. He was an off-screen character in the first film: his primary function in the dialogue was to give background to the Indy and explain some of the issues in the Indy-Marion relationship. Did ANYONE see the first film and say, “Oh no. I wonder what happened to Abner. How did Abner die? I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ABNER, NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I have not read such a discussion about an off-screen character since Godot. And Henry doesn’t replace Abner: he replaces Marcus. I can’t wait to read her review for the fourth film in which she declares that the most exciting moment was when Indy and Mutt hit the statue and – for a second – she believed that the statue was of Abner, and then became DEVASTATED that it was ONLY of Marcus, an onscreen character. Who cares about that guy? I NEED MORE ABNERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

    • Alan Burnett

      “It even made me forget, briefly, that they spoke not once but twice about having slept with the same woman. Yikes.”
      Not “yikes”. HILARIOUS! The idea that a bald, ageing Connery still had moves is AWESOME.

    • http://tarek-to-verso.over-blog.com/‎ tarek

      Abner is the nickname of her boyfriend.

  • cruzzercruz

    As much as I wanted to like Crystal Skull, despite its lazy plot, boring new characters, over the hill hero, and awful CG, I just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that it threw in the aliens. Indy 1 and 3 proved the existence of some godlike entity, if not an actual God, Indy 2 proved that mysticism and black magic are real, and Indy 4 proves that… aliens are real, too? In Indy’s world, everything is real. Spaghetti monster might as well be real.

    Obviously, the weak links here at 2 and 4, that’s not rocket science, but the aliens just felt insulting in comparison.

  • doctor_robot

    i can’t believe i’m reading people saying that they think the crystal skull was better than temple of doom… i know that temple was the weak link of the original 3, but are you insane??

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