Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
The man with the hat is back. And this time, he's bringing his Dad.
Before we got a number four and everyone flipped their collective lids. After we had already gotten two outrageously fun adventures to set up a formula to expect. Right when it was decided that Sean Connery needed to be injected in our favorite "archaeologist" was this movie. The Last Crusade would probably strike as a weird choice to review first - namely since the logical person would expect reviews of the first two - but I've never necessarily been one to really care which movie in a series comes up as an opinion piece, primarily because I've seen them myself before and really just write these up on a whatever-I-watch weekly basis. Crack your whip and get your fedora, it's time for some Indiana!
We start off with a pack of kids out in some mountains. A troop is out to explore, and two end up branching off into a cave to explore some more when one gets distracted by some talking. Upon closer inspection, he finds out there's some mining going on, and a bunch of treasure hunters are seemingly very excited about something they just dug up. As the box is opened, it's revealed to be a very precious cross of plentiful historical value, and our little scout troop is ready to point out that it belongs in a museum. Doing what any sensible young man would do, he sends his friend to get the cops while he sneaks in and steals the cross to get it away from the would-be looters. A chase proceeds, involving the vast majority of the circus train they come across in the middle - with a very narrow escape from our lead character (having been revealed to us as a young version of our main character) thanks to a magic trick. When he finally gets home and the cops arrive, however, it's the treasure hunters that end up not pressing charges as they get what's "rightfully theirs" from the lawman after it being stolen by the hero. Respectfully, the lead treasure hunter gives our young lead a rather familiar hat...
And now we are on a rainy boat with an older hero we are used to. Turns out he's managed to find the cross again, from the same man who paid the treasure hunters before. Some fighting happens, the boat explodes, and our hero is (I guess) picked up at sea at some point. Back at his college, he turns over the cross to his friend who works the museum - and we find out that although he's an awesome adventurer, he has to be probably the worst professor to ever work at a college. Wanting to get away from the din of students rambling outside his office about whatever things - such as ungraded exams and I'd imagine the crazy amounts of absenteeism from his own class - he takes his mail and sneaks out the window. He doesn't get far before he's picked up by some men in a car and taken to a man searching for a certain Holy Grail - something our hero doesn't care too much about until it's mentioned that his dad was already sent and has gone missing. Thus begins our hero's quest to find his dad, and somewhat indirectly at that point the Grail.
As luck would have it, the search for the Grail does lead him to the location of his dad - it just so happens that location is a Nazi base. Things are further complicated during his rescue mission with an unexpected turncoat, ending with the both of them trapped in Nazi hands with his dad's book of research on the Grail being taken to Berlin. Antics, fighting, and escaping happens, and at the end of it the dad brings up a very solid point about things not being as simple as retrieving some relic, as with the Nazis involved it has now become a race against evil. The two head to Berlin to try and retrieve the book of notes, but will they manage to get it and get out of Nazi-land safe? Will they be able to save their friend captured by the Nazis? Will they manage to find the real Grail and save that from the Nazis?
Overall, it's a fun adventure movie. It has some humor in it to help diminish the pressures of some things (like the presence of Nazis and their pursuit of a cup of eternal life that would allow them to blanket the earth in their 'evil' reign), and as usual some of it will be found to be more effective than others. Moments of the plot can seem rather fortunate (or some might call it lazy) in how they go together when presented on the screen however, so it doesn't always hold up to those who attend movies with the hyper-active thinkers and scanners waiting for the tiniest thing that doesn't fit into ultra-realism or their form of empowerment. I mean, yeah, there's a female "lead", and she's certainly an improvement over Temple of Doom's for the most part, but I wouldn't necessarily call her a "well developed character" or anything - easily ignore-able if you are in the movie just to have fun, but if your looking to pick apart tropes you may have a bad time.
Actors do a great job most the time - despite any aforementioned discrepancies with character-writing. The relationship between our hero and his dad, although actually relatively serious at times, is usually presented in a rather upbeat comical manner, which helps things stay away from being too depressing and fits the adventure nature of the film. Nearly every character has at least one attempt to provide some humor to the movie, although some are obviously there with the intent of being comedic (which is generally where some of the humor falls off in the effectiveness department). Still, there are a lot of moments with really great lines - such as the dad's delivery of a Charlemagne quote, or the sidekicks delivery of "The pen is mightier than the sword!"
Effects work is pretty good for when it is. It's nothing in most cases that will blow the modern audience's mind, but it holds up far better thanmost early-day CG and even a lot of claymation instances. Sets help lend themselves to this as well, particularly in the "burning the base" scene (as pictured below). There some pretty obvious moments where they don't hold up nearly as well (one of the snakes from the "early days" starter, as well as an instance during the plane chase), but for the most part they aren't bad at all. That being said, this isn't a movie that's based on heavy realism - so again, if you are thinking hard enough that a boat exploding when squished or a plane exploding on nothing after sliding without wings for a couple hundred feet you are probably in the wrong mindset for this movie. There isn't anything in this one quite as extreme as say, the face melting scene from Ark, but it's pretty well done stuff at any rate.
As times change, you can kind of look back on movies in a different way than you used to. As time goes on, I don't enjoy Last Crusade any less than before, but I do find I end up catching more discrepancies between actual cuts in shots or logic (such as characters acting in response to things without any real reason to react to them). It doesn't end up affecting my viewing enjoyment personally, as I'm still in that same adventure-seeking mindset when I cue up the movie for a viewing, and unless the person viewing is in a critical mindset it shouldn't bother them either. It's a fun movie, well worth at least a viewing in my opinion.