In 1938, after his father Professor Henry Jones, Sr. goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. finds himself up against Adolf Hitler’s Nazis again to stop them from obtaining its powers. (from IMDb)
To celebrate 40 years of Indiana Jones, Paramount Pictures recently released a 4-movie, remastered 4K collection of the Indiana Jones movies. It’s officially no longer “The Complete Adventures,” because – as I type this – a fifth and reportedly final movie is being filmed right now, with Harrison Ford reprising his role for one last time. Up until this point, I’ve only ever reviewed one of the movies for this site, so I feel like the best way to review this set is to take a look back at each one individually. With that, I offer my thoughts on the series’ second sequel – and one of favorite movies of all-time, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Ah, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I remember seeing this one in the theater on vacation when it came out. As a 9-year-old, I probably wasn’t ready for everything this movie was, but I was definitely having seeds planted. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the kind of adventure/comedy that offers a lot more than what you might see on its surface.
After the 1981 kick-off with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the first disappointing sequel in 1984 with The Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was meant to be the finale for Indiana Jones, with the character even riding off into the sunset at the very end. As the end of a trilogy, it’s pretty perfect. Probably one of the only major flaws Last Crusade has is that it borrows a little bit too much from Raiders, seeming just a smidge too familiar at times. But still, there’s enough of a freshness to it to keep it standing on its own. The series is also completely revitalized by introducing Sean Connery into the fold. Here, Connery plays Indy’s father – Henry Jones, Sr. And, surprisingly, their chemistry turns The Last Crusade into as much of a comedy as an adventure film (Heck, it’s way funnier than most movies that are designed to strictly be comedies). The two have incredible chemistry, and it’s a real blast to see the original James Bond playing the father of a character that was even influenced by the character. One might argue that the presence of his father dilutes the sheer heroism or machismo of the character we first saw in Raiders, but I’d beg to differ. In this story, Indy gets plenty of opportunities to shine on his own, and most of the interactions he has with his father are either humorous or heartwarming.
The quest for the Holy Grail as the the movie’s main prize may be a surprising one for a character and film series like Indiana Jones. At first, Indy approaches it with some disbelief – as though it may not actually be real. But the quest turns out to be an unexpected journey of faith. His father, Henry, devoted most of his life to trying to find the Grail, and this made Indy bitter because he viewed it as something that took his father’s attention away from his family. Henry has great reverence for the Grail and what it stands for. At one point, in frustration, while talking to his father, Indy scoffs at him and calls him a martyr and then uses the Lord’s name in vain (“J-sus Chr-st”). His father slaps Indy across the face, points a finger at him, and states, “That’s for blasphemy.” It’s actually such a strong moment that reveals another layer to the heart of the film and kind of realigns Indy’s focus. The movie’s finale literally has Indiana having to take a “leap of faith,” in which he has to put his life on the line as he decides what he really believes in. Later, his father – who had devoted much of his life to the lore of this artifact – encourages him to “let it go” when he has to choose his life over saving the famed chalice. There’s so much to unpack in this movie and chew on, that it makes it a gift that keeps on giving. It’s funny, entertaining, exciting, spiritually rich, and altogether satisfying.
Honestly, the only thing keeping me from awarding this masterpiece with a 5-star rating is some of the content. Although one could argue that the gruesome violence is toned down just a bit from the movies the came before it in this series, there’s still some bloody violence and another gruesome death for the movie’s central villain. An exploration of an underground tomb reveals a swarm of rats and a bunch of mummified skeletons. It’s not as creepy as in Raiders, but some may find it unsettling. As the action heats up against the Nazi’s, Indy mows down a couple bad guys with a machine gun (although it isn’t really bloody), and later fires one bullet at a Nazi, which goes through two more guys behind him. We see the three men fall over, but also see the bloody exit wounds through the backs of their uniforms for a moment (it’s played for laughs). We see a few desert people lying dead (or dying) with blood on them in one scene, and during a tank chase sequence, the driver takes a bullet to the forehead and we see blood drip down as they slump forward toward the camera. During the Grail Temple finale, we see a beheaded body lying on the ground (positioned in a way to hide the gore, but the head is next to the body), and then we see a freshly decapitated head of a victim roll down the steps and stop at someone’s feet. A main character is then shot and we see blood on their clothes (and later briefly see the wound). Finally, the main villain is shown growing old very, very fast as he and another character scream, and then he turns into a skeleton and crashes against a wall. It’s kind of gross and parallels the face-melting deaths from the first movie. Language is pretty light in this movie, with mostly mild cuss words and the aforementioned blasphemy. But sexual content is a bit more evident this time around, as we see Indy and Elsa passionately kiss and then fall to the floor, implying they sleep together. We later find out that she also slept with Indy’s father, Henry, and there are a few funny references to this that are subtle enough to go over young peoples’ heads.
Speaking of Elsa, Alison Doody’s performance of Elsa is underrated. While she is a more complex and non-direct ally to Indy in this film, she’s probably his most interesting flame in the series. She’s beautiful and mysterious, and she keeps you guessing about where her allegiance lies throughout the movie. And I’d be remiss if I don’t highlight John Williams’ absolutely incredible score for this movie. His theme for the Grail, as well as all of the action in Venice, is both gorgeous and memorable. It’s easily Williams’ best Indiana Jones film score and one of my favorite of his career.
Yes, I could gush about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade for quite a while. It’s a fantastic sequel in a very hit-and-miss series of films, and one of my top 3 movies of all-time. The only thing that holds it back from a higher rating is some of it’s edgier content, but it is otherwise a surprisingly deep action/adventure film that is just as inspiring (and funny) as it is thrilling.
– John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/19/21)
4K UHD Special Features Review
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is now available in brilliant 4K UHD. You can get it on its own digitally now, or in a special 5-disc, 4-movie 4K set. According to Paramount Pictures, “all four films are available together in 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision® and HDR-10 for ultra-vivid picture quality and state-of-the-art Dolby Atmos® audio. Each film has been meticulously remastered from 4K scans of the original negatives with extensive visual effects work done to ensure the most pristine and highest quality image. All picture work was approved by director Steven Spielberg. In addition, all four films were remixed at Skywalker Sound under the supervision of legendary sound designer Ben Burtt to create the Dolby Atmos® soundtracks. All original sound elements were used to achieve the fully immersive Dolby Atmos® mixes while staying true to each film’s original creative intent.”
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade looks fantastic in 4K! Some scenes – like when Indy and Henry are on the motorcycle at a crossroads – just burst with clarity and color. I adore this movie and this is a beautiful presentation. If you’re a fan of these movies, this set is a must!
The 4K set also includes a standard Blu-ray disc with seven hours of previously released bonus content as detailed below:
- On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
- From Jungle to Desert
- From Adventure to Legend
- Making the Films
- The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary)
- The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
- The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
- Behind the Scenes
- The Stunts of Indiana Jones
- The Sound of Indiana Jones
- The Music of Indiana Jones
- The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
- Raiders: The Melting Face!
- Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlies (with optional pop-ups)
- Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
- Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
- Indy’s Friends and Enemies
- Iconic Props (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
- The Effects of Indy (Kingdom of theCrystal Skull) (HD)
- Adventures in Post Production (Kingdom of theCrystal Skull) (HD)
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 6/16/21)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Indy is in a bath robe after a shower and Elsa is in her nightgown. Indy forcefully kisses Elsa. She responds by saying “How dare you kiss me!” and returns the kiss forcefully. He responds, “Leave me alone, I don’t like fast women.” They kiss again and she sucks on his ear as she says “And I don’t like arrogant men!” He grins and they fall to the floor kissing. He then pops his head up and says “Ah, Venice.” She then pulls his head back in to keep kissing. The scene ends there, but we later learn they definitely slept together; Indy asks his dad how he knew Elsa was a Nazi. He says “she talks in her sleep.” It takes Indy a moment to realize what that means and his father smiles sheepishly; As Elsa says goodbye to Indy, she whispers into his ear, “I can’t forget how wonderful it was.” Henry is tied up to Indy directly behind him, so thinking she’s talking to him, he responds, “Thank you. It was rather quite wonderful.” Indy slowly turns around in shock and Elsa kisses him again passionately. She sucks on his lower lip before leaving; While talking, Henry says it’s an interesting experience sharing in his adventures. Indy says, “That’s not all we shared. It’s disgraceful. You’re old enough to be her father–her grandfather.” Henry says something about being as normal as the next man. Indy quips, “I was the next man!”
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “J-sus Chr-st” (for which Henry slaps Indy); 1 Incomplete “son of a–“; 2 “h*ll,” 3 “d*mn,” 1 “Dear G-d,” 1 “My G-d,” 1 “Oh G-d,” “By G-d”
Alcohol/Drugs: Donovan pours champagne for himself and Indy who sips it; Indy has liquor in Brody’s hotel room.
Blood/Gore: Young Indy has some blood on his chin after accidentally hitting himself there with a whip; Adult Indy has some blood on his lip after being punched; Elsa descends into the hole in the floor onto bones and skulls in a catacomb; We see more skeletons in the catacombs; We see a knight’s skeleton in a tomb; Kazim has blood on his mouth; Indy grabs a machine gun from a soldier and guns down several Nazi’s. There’s some red mist from the last guy we see get shot; We see some blood on a dead guy’s face with eyes rolled back. We then see Kazim lying on the ground with bloody clothes and blood on his face as he dies; While standing on top of a tank, three Nazi’s line up in front of him. He fires his pistol and it goes through all three and we see bloody exit wounds out their backs (played for laughs); Henry struggles with Nazi over a gun; A bullet ricochets inside the tank and hits the driver in the head. Some blood trickles down his forehead and he slumps forward; The main Nazi villain has a bloody mouth and we see blood on the tank surface; We see Indy slamming the main Nazi villain face’s into the top of the tank repeatedly. The man’s face is very bloody; We see some blood on Indy’s head after the tank fight; A man slowly walks down a tunnel. He looks down and we see a body laying there with the decapitated head lying next to the body (there’s no gore because of the way it’s positioned); We hear a slicing sound and the man’s head is seen rolling down the tunnel and down the steps where it rolls and lands next to Marcus; A man shoots another man. Others rush to their aid and we see some blood and they open his shirt and apply a rag to the wound; A man drinks from a chalice and turns very old very, very quickly. We see his hair grow long and his skin decompose fast as Elsa screams at the sight. Indy then shoves the skeleton away from Elsa and it crashes into dust against the wall.
Violence: After a pursuit takes them all to a circus train, young Indy kicks some guys crawling after him in a reptile train car. The platform he’s on falls and he comes face-to-face with a python. He gets away from it and then falls into a pit of snakes; Indy kicks another guy; The robbers trip young Indy with a rod and one of them holds him down with a knife on the roof. A rhino’s horn goes thru the roof several times and one time right between his legs; Young Indy falls into a car with a lion. He grabs a whip to try to intimidate it and accidentally hits his own chin; The robbers pull young Indy up out of a train car just as the lion lunges at him. A snake crawls out of his sleeve and the guys panic, and he gets away; The young Indy flashback transitions to 1938 with grown Indy being held by some guys on a ship and punching him in the face; Indy kicks the guys away and they punch him. He grabs a metal rod and hits some of them with it. At one point, he punches two guys at once. He dives for an artifact sliding across the deck of the ship and then jumps into the water. A wave washes over the ship and knocks a container onto the ship’s deck. It explodes and the ship quickly sinks. We see a man’s hat float by with a hole in it; In Venice, Indy uses a stanchion to break the library floor; Elsa descends into the hole in the floor onto bones and skulls in a catacomb; Marcus is hit from behind and knocked out off screen and then we see him dragged away; We see more skeletons in the catacombs; Indy breaks through a wall and stumbles into a pool of petroleum. He then grabs a bone and cloth to make a torch; They stumble upon a swarm of rats crawling all over each other and bones. Elsa yells as she maneuvers around them; We see a knight’s skeleton in a tomb; A man lights a match and drops it to ignite the petroleum. A fireball rushes through the catacombs towards Indy and Elsa. Indy flips the tomb to use as an air pocket. Rats climb through holes to get inside as Elsa screams; The men chase Indy and Elsa through the streets to boats. A man jumps on their boat. Indy lunges after him and they struggle over the gun. It keeps going off and shoots past Elsa’s windshield, blasting holes in it. Indy punches the guy and punches him off boat; A boat pushes two ships closer together, causing a speed boat to blow up between them in flames; Indy’s boat is shot up and smokes. Indy jumps onto the other boat and fights a couple of guys. He interrogates a man as the propeller of a larger ship slices up their boat (Kazim has blood on his mouth); Indy backhands a castle butler and he hits the wall and slides down it; Indy swings through a window and his dad breaks a vase over his head; Indy grabs a machine gun from a soldier and guns down several Nazi’s. There’s some red mist from the last guy we see get shot; A soldier threatens Elsa with a gun. Indy surrenders his gun by sliding it across a table top, breaking glass in the process; Sallah punches a man in the face through a newspaper; A soldier punches Indy in the face and his head knocks into his dad’s head; Henry accidentally sets fire to the floor and the room flames up; The Nazi’s from the radio room shoot at them as they go through the fireplace. A man attacks Indy. He punches him out of the room; Indy takes a pole and jousts a cyclist off his motorbike. Two other bikes crash. Another bike does a wheelie and slams its wheel into their motorcycle cab. Indy shoves part of the pole into the spoke and it flips the bike in the air and crashes; Henry slaps Indy in the face for using blasphemy; We see a book burning in Berlin; Indy grabs Elsa by the throat and threatens to squeeze; Indy punches a Nazi and throws him out of the zeppelin onto luggage below; Indy and Henry take a small biplane and other planes shoot at theirs. Henry accidentally shoots their own tail with the rear gun; As they drive through a tunnel, a plane enters the tunnel and it blows off its wings at the entrance. We then see it briefly pass their car in flames and explode. A bomb is dropped and blows a hole in the road and they crash their car in it; Henry uses his umbrella to scare a flock of seagulls into the sky and into a plane’s cockpit. The plane then crashes into a mountainside; A tank blows up a car on a hill; Shooting breaks out. The Nazi’s throw bombs and mow down a bunch of men with guns. We see some blood on a dead guy’s face with eyes rolled back. We then see Kazim lying on the ground with bloody clothes and blood on his face as he dies; A Nazi slaps Henry in the face with a glove repeatedly; They shoot tank shells at Indy on a horse. They ram a tank into a car. It gets caught in the tank gun. They then fire the tank off and run over it; Indy jams a rock into the tank’s side gun. The gun blows up, knocking back the gunner; A man smacks Henry across the face; Indy shoots at Nazi’s on top of the tank; Indy jumps onto the tank. A Nazi pounces on him. Three line up in front of him. He fires his pistol and it goes through all three and we see bloody exit wounds out their backs (played for laughs); A Nazi wraps a chain around Indy’s throat and they keep fighting. He holds Indy’s face against the tank tread; Henry squirts the ink from a pen into a man’s face and knocks him out. Henry then uses a tank gun to blow up a car of Nazi’s riding alongside their tank; We see Indy hanging off the side gun on the tank and get pinned ads along the rock wall as it rides; Henry struggles with Nazi over a gun; A bullet ricochets inside the tank and hits the driver in the head. Some blood trickles down his forehead and he slumps forward; The main Nazi villain has a bloody mouth and we see blood on the tank surface; Marcus gets hit in the face by accident and falls off the top of the tank; Henry falls onto the tank tread but Indy catches him with his whip so he doesn’t get run over; We see Indy slamming the main Nazi villain face’s into the top of the tank repeatedly. The tank goes over side and crashes as he screams. Everyone thinks for a short time that Indy went over the side too and died (He didn’t); A man slowly walks down a tunnel. He looks down and we see a body laying there with the decapitated head lying next to the body (there’s no gore because of the way it’s positioned); We hear a slicing sound and the man’s head is seen rolling down the tunnel and down the steps where it rolls and lands next to Marcus; A man shoots another man. Others rush to their aid and we see some blood and they open his shirt and apply a rag to the wound; Indy dodges blades rolling out of the floor; Indy falls through the floor and pulls himself up; Indy must take a “leap of faith” over a chasm. When he steps out into a space where he should surely die, he finds that the ground beneath his feet was hidden by his surroundings; A knight raises his sword to attack Indy but falls over; A man drinks from a chalice and turns very old very, very quickly. We see his hair grow long and his skin decompose fast as Elsa screams at the sight. Indy then shoves the skeleton away from Elsa and it crashes into dust against the wall; We see some water in a chalice poured onto a bloody bullet wound. It smokes and heals up, washing the wound away; The temple collapses. Some characters fall through cracks in the floor to their deaths. Indy tries to save one person but their hand slips and they fall. Indy nearly falls, too, but his dad saves him.