Rewatched the Indiana Jones trilogy over the last few weeks (the 4th doesn't exist). I think the order is quite definite:
1 > 3 > 2.
Temple of Doom is clearly is the most flawed. I respect their effort to avoid repeating themselves but a lot of their decisions don't work. The female lead is extremely annoying, an awful exaggerated version of the 'damsel in distress' and the relationship with Indy doesn't ever work. The darker tone and violence (child torture?!) also feels jarring against the fun nature of Indiana Jones films. Lucas clearly thought "hey, it worked for me in the Empire Strikes Back!" but it's a poor choice for Indy. The narrative is weak and it really lacks the adventure spirit at times that the others have in abdunace. And that's after it starts so well, with the introduction leading into a well worked non stop action sequence that has Indy moving from one country to another...from car to plane to inflatable dingy...but after that, the film is largely set in one place (and mostly underground) and it suffers from that point on. By the time the excellent minecart chase arrives it's too late in the day really. I do like Short Round though-he has great chemistry with Harrison Ford that at least adds some funny moments that lighten the mood but even then, the Asian stereotype can feel uncomfortable at times. You can pretty easily argue the film is racist and sexist really. A lot of mistakes.
Fortunately, The Last Crusade is a great return to form. It's the funniest and lightest of the films-a clear response to the over the top darkness of the second. The introduction, with a teenage Indy in the Boy Scouts, is a nice addition to the mythology, showing how he developed into the person he is and from there the narrative is much stronger than Temple of Doom, working around three acts well. And the film shifts a gear when Sean Connery arrives. The relationship between Indy and his Dad is a lot of fun, and leads to some of the best moments in the franchise ("how do you know?" "she talks in her sleep...") and it's new ground for Indy-the female lead keeps things going for the first half but she's a largely boring character and the female companion route is ground already well trodden. The Indiana Jones films always have a central plot device that the film is about-but this isn't really about the Holy Grail, it's about the relationship between Indy and his Dad, and Sean Connery was superb casting-he and Harrison Ford bounce off each other from start to finish.
However, it's not quite as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark which is the definitive Indy film. Tone wise it sits in the middle between Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade and is all the better for it. It has the fun, light hearted moments and it has the tense moments that give it a great sense of adventure. Plus by not overdoing the violence (like Temple of Doom does) it helps give the ending more impact. And it's all wrapped up in a tight, well paced package that never lets up. It captures what Indy is about perfectly, and is the reason he's one of cinema's greatest and most iconic characters. It's one of the best action films ever made for my money. I already want to go watch it again to be honest...
Raiders of the Lost Ark 10
Temple of Doom 5
The Last Crusade 9
Last edited by Tomous
on Mon Mar 13, 2017 1:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.