The Retroactive Review: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
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1912. Utah. A band of grave robbers has just discovered the Cross of Coronado, a priceless Spanish artifact. The leader of this gang of treasure hunters wears a dusty leather jacket and a dusty fedora.

Meanwhile, a Boy Scout troop is exploring the surrounding area. One rather audacious boy gets separated from his group and finds his way into the cave where the grave robbers are excavating. It’s here we realize this Boy Scout is none other than Henry Jones Jr., known as “Indiana” to his fellow scouts.

Indiana, who acquired his passion for antiquities from his archaeologist father, steals the cross out of belief that it belongs in a museum. The robbers soon catch on to Indy’s theft and give chase. We are taken on an exciting car-jumping sequence atop a circus train.

In the film’s short but exciting prologue, we see Indiana Jones become the character we’ve grown to know and love. He uses a whip, discovers his fear of snakes, and stumbles upon his first real adventure.

Though young Indy rescues the cross, he is fingered as the thief and forced to return it. Though he lost the priceless artifact, Indiana does not go home empty-handed. The leader of those hired treasure hunters offers some encouraging words, along with his dusty fedora. It’s the passing of the torch. As he departs, the robber says, “You lost today, kid. But that doesn’t mean you have to like it.”

This is what “The Last Crusade” is all about. We get to go on another adventure with Dr. Henry Jones jr., while at the same time learning more about our favorite archaeologist’s past.

The main story at play in “The Last Crusade” involves the Holy Grail – the cup that holds the blood of Christ. Indiana’s father, Henry Jones sr. (Sean Connery) has been obsessed with the Holy Grail for years, and after vanishing while searching for a clue to the cup’s location, Indy must go on an expedition to find him.

Indy meets up with the wealthy Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), who begins his search by revealing an incomplete stone tablet. Along with his father’s diary, Indy uses the stone tablet to find clues that might lead to his father’s whereabouts.

The rest is your typical Indiana Jones adventure. Sallah and Marcus Brody show up, and Indiana must do battle with those disposable bad guys, the Nazis. There’s a new love interest, the beautiful and mysterious Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) who had been working with Indiana’s father before his disappearance.

The deadpan humor between Indiana and his father is what really makes the film. While not as action-packed as its predecessors, “The Last Crusade” makes it for it in humor and heart. It recycles many of the elements that made “Raiders of the Lost Ark” so memorable, but doesn’t do enough different to make it stand out in the way that “Temple of Doom” so drastically contrasts Indy’s other adventures.

“Indiana Jones the Last Crusade” is another one of those epic road pictures. Indy follows a trail from America to the watery, rat-infested catacombs beneath Venice, and then to the deserts of the Holy Land. There are sensational action sequences, one involving a gigantic Nazi armored tank that will take your breath away.

4.5 stars (out of 5)

Written by: Adam
Posted on: Monday, June 9, 2008

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