Top critical review
Good popcorn flicks
on May 30, 2004
Let's face it, this trilogy only has one first-rate movie (the first). Hard to even add anything, praise-wise, to 'Raiders'.
I'll buck popular opinion and say "Temple" is the second-best film of the three. Yeah, it's loaded with flaws; I don't like Kate Capshaw's performance anymore than the next guy, for starters. But the action set-pieces are choice entertainment. The final half-hour or so is a real thrill. Also, I gotta give Lucas and Spielberg credit for have the chutzpah to be so downright UNfamily-friendly in this movie. The whole thing is just a real corker, a popcorn movie deluxe (albeit, one that is loaded with flaws).
As for "Last Crusade," I once regarded this- as so many people seem to- as the second-best of the trilogy. While I found my appreciation for 'Temple' had grown when revisiting the film on dvd, I found the opposite had occured with 'Crusade'. This thing is such a safe and scrubbed-clean piece of family entertainment, it makes the original "Raiders" look like an R-rated movie! I realize it was the best way for Lucas/Spielberg to take the series from a commercial standpoint. But this movie plays as a pale remake of 'Raiders'. The SOLE saving grace is Sean Connery's performance as Indy's father. It's really the only new element in the movie, and it gives the flick a badly needed burst of energy. Don't even get me started on the climax of the movie- without spoiling anything plot-wise, let me just say that the ending is simply ludricous and emotionally hollow.
As for the Special Features disc, I tossed it into the circular file immediately after opening the set. Just kidding, I didn't go that far, but in all honestly I haven't watched a single feature. I just don't care enough. And I must say, I rather admire Mr. Spielberg for choosing not to ever record a commentary.
So "Raiders" is a classic- if essentially featherweight- piece of well-crafted escapism. 'Temple of Doom' is a good enough actioner to put most of the more recent similar pics to shame (like the Mummy movies, to name but two). And 'Last Crusade' is basically an anemic attempt to recapture the magic of the first (and as a result, falls flat on its overly-familiar face). Spielberg's a very erratic moviemaker.