Alan Jones Gives Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade A Right Whipping!
We all love Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It was a much loved addition to the Indiana Jones franchise back in 1989 and has aged well over the decades. But not all, it seems enjoyed the movie. Critic of the time, Alan Jones had something of a no holds barred reputation when it came to reviewing TV shows and movies and the third Indy movie was equally not spared.
The short review from Starburst volume 11, number 11 July 1989 was ruthless and ultimately Alan gave the movie a straight down the middle five out of ten stating that he liked the movie but not as much as the others. He called The Last Crusade "an inferior clone of the original" and said "The Last Crusade now travels such a well-worn path. The over extended desert tank battle is one example of how exhilarating familiarity slides into contempt by Spielberg never knowing when to stop milking the formula despite inventing it."
Alan Jones was a popular critic and wrote for Starburst for 25 years and went on to write for the Radio Times, Premier magazine and Total Film to name a few. He's a regular on London FrightFest and you can follow him on Twitter here.
We've included the full review below. What do you think? Do you agree with his assessment of The Last Crusade? Let me know in the comments below but please keep it civil. For the record I love The Last Crusade but also love it when movie critics give their honest opinion on what they've just watched and not feel they need to go with the general consensus. Probably why Alan is still popular to this day.
The Indy saga is sagging. Not a patch on Raiders and, only marginally better than Temple of Doom, The Last Crusade is nothing more than an inferior clone of the original. With Nazis in hot pursuit again, substitute the Holy Grail for the Lost Ark, rats for snakes, an out-of-control tank for a plane, ordinary orthodox pomposity for Cecil B De Mille religious fantasy overtones and The Last Crusade shapes up as a period James Bond sequel with a trilby and whip replacing tuxedos and gadgets.
Sean Connery’s presence as Harrison Ford’s father adds more inevitable Bond comparisons. Yet the character interplay between the two actors is the most successful ingredient of Spielberg’s lazily directed adventure. They bounce wonderfully well off each other and bring a winning brand of humour to an awkward screenplay containing too many lapses in taut storytelling technique. The opening circus train sequence sets a pace sadly unequalled by anything that follows although River Phoenix as young Indy does augur well for more projected sequels.
What surprises most about The Last Crusade is the low-key energy level behind the action set pieces. Raiders kept you on the edge of your seat with thrill-a-minute excitement. That reaction is not duplicated here because The Last Crusade now travels such a well-worn path. The over extended desert tank battle is one example of how exhilarating familiarity slides into contempt by Spielberg never knowing when to stop milking the formula despite inventing it. Benign observation has taken the place of Spielberg’s usually awesome ability to fling you head first into die-hard antics with explosive passion. But now Spielberg has nothing left to prove. He has all he could wish for and his movies reflect this comfortable contentment.
Showing all the signs of a rush job - sloppy editing, sub-par process work, Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies reprising their Raiders roles, but doing nothing except stand around - The Last Crusade is haggard H Rider Haggard at best. The similar climax Hammer’s She carried more spine-tingling potency than this rather flat and unconvincing ending. Spielberg wanted The Last Crusade more action based, whereas producer George Lucas felt more special effects were needed. Lucas was right in retrospect. And the movie misses by miles what could have easily been achieved with a few more moments of ILM background atmosphere. I’m giving the impression I didn’t like The Last Crusade. I did. But nowhere near enough.
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