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Wednesday 1 May 2013

Burl reviews Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! (1989)

Ha ha, yi-yi-yi-yi, it’s Burl! I’m here to review the third and should’ve-been-final Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! This is the one that features a delightful performance from Sean Connery as Indiana Jones’s father, one of the most perfect pieces of casting (Scots accent notwithstanding) since Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl in Popeye!
The Indiana Jones movies are one of those series in which each entry is just a little bit (or, by the time you get to the Crystal Skull, a lot) worse than their predecessor! But all of them, or the first three anyway, qualify as robustly entertaining, if hocus-pocus filled, slabs of primo Hollywood entertainment! Ha ha, ever since I sat in the theatre and stared wide-eyed at the spiders and snakes and melting faces of the original chapter (while idly wondering how Indy could ride a submarine out into the middle of the ocean), I’ve been an unabashed fan of the series!
This installment is as propulsive and spectacular as any of them, while leaning even more on the hocus and the pocus and the soggy scenes of myth-swallowing! It’s all about the search for the Holy Grail, which you’d think would be slightly dangerous territory given the spectacular Monty Python treatment of the same subject just fifteen years earlier! But the Indy picture negotiates that obstacle simply by being very exciting and frequently funny! For a movie which features Nazis, book-burning and a cameo by Hitl*r, it really is quite amusing!
There are lots of glances back toward the other Indy pictures, like a reference to the Ark of the Covenant and a scene involving not snakes or bugs but rats! There are even references to future Spielberg pictures – for example, he does an early version of that gag from Schindler’s List in which a single bullet is used to kill several people standing in a row!
There’s a whole opening sequence in which River Phoenix, star of Stand By Me and Explorers, plays a young Indy, and demonstrates how he collected his chin scar, his fear of snakes, his taste for the whip and his signature headgear all in the same eventful day! Then the movie gives us a few relatively quiet scenes showing Indy in teaching mode and hanging out with Denholm Elliot – I was fond of these scenes in Lost Ark and felt their absence in Temple of Doom – and after that it’s off to the races!
There’s something very 1989 about this picture, as opposed to the staunch 1982ness of the first one, and for that reason alone Last Crusade stands as a lesser entry! The villains, too, are a little weak, even though one’s a N*zi! But I still can’t help but enjoy it, particularly when we get a wonderful zeppelin scene, or Connery says, apropos of his diary, “I should have shent it to the Marxsh Brothersh!"
For these delights and others, I award Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade two and a half Xshs marking the shpot!

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