One of the greatest action adventurers ever! Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr. a character created by Starwars director George Lucas as a homage to the action heroes of 1930s film serials. Indy first appeared in the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and was amazingly played by Harrison Ford. Since then he’s portayed him in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) all of which directed by Steven Spielberg.

There’s something cool and fascinating about character, the bullwhip, the Fedora and leather jacket. His sense of humour, deep knowledge of ancient civilisations and languages. But his flaws are interesting too, his fear of snakes, commitment and so on.

Indiana Jones remains one of cinema’s most revered movie characters and made Harrison a worldwide star. You could say the character has become bigger than the films themselves. Although the above is nothing new to fans, I hope it’ll draw those in who haven’t seen these films. Below are my thoughts on Indiana’s feature film adventures to date.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Archaeologist and adventurer, Indiana Jones must find the Ark of the Convent before Hitler’s Army can use its powers to destroy their enemies.

George Lucas’ story is extraordinary (now) set between Temple and Last Crusade, Raiders is a fantastic piece of cinema, a perfect mix of action, adventure and humour, wonderfully directed by Steven Spielberg. It’s perfectly written by Lawrence Kasdan.

Shot on many locations and painstakingly created sets it has a grittiness and ground feel that adds to the believability. The cast are also excellent and John Williams infamous theme is used a just the right times and the score is very stirring. Harrison Ford is ideal as whip cracking, hat donned, fist fighting, Indiana Jones who is aided on his adventure by feisty ex-girl friend Marion Ravenwood play by Karen Allen. The cast include John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina and Paul Freeman gives a memorable performance as Dr. René Belloq.

It has an abundance of great characters and scenes, notably the opening where Indie must flee with an idol, the truck chase, a fight around a moving plane and navigating his way through a room full of snakes.

It’s a true adventure film that has been often imitated but never surpassed. A must see.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

After a diamond exchange goes awry and a plane crash-lands in India, Indiana Jones decides to help a fraught village to find it’s stolen children and mystical stones.

With dated effects and a problematic shoot, Harrison injured his back much of the action was undertaken by veteran stuntman Vic Armstrong, it’s still an adequate Indy adventure.

Clearly mostly filmed on sound stages it lacks the gritiness of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Characters like Sallah, Ravenwood and Brody are sorely missed and the viewer is quickly forced to fall in love with the new leads, Kate Capshaw and Jonathan Ke Quan. Quan is good fun but the film looses it’s edge due to the Goonies actors round house kicks and wise cracks. That said, some of the dialogue shindigs between him and Indy are quite well executed. Capshaw is fine when she’s not screaming but is very theatrical.

Harrison Ford is again excellent as Indiana Jones and although set before Raiders appears less intelligent when donning the hat and whip, an almost reverse Superman Clark Kent character issues due to Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz screenplay.

George Lucas story is decent and incorrectly slated for being dark, but Raiders was and equally dark, brawls, shootouts, ghosts, Nazis’ and a poisoned monkey to same a few. If anything there’s too much comedy in Temple. However, when Indy is serious, in conversation to the villagers, playing politics, cultural differences and fighting Mola Ram (Amrish Puri) guards it’s good sincere fun.

Unfortunalty, the script is so unbalanced it doesn’t surpass or equal its predecessor, falling short of a classic adventure. That said, the costumes and stunt are great. With John Williams legendary score, an amazing musical number to open the film and some fantastic set pieces Temple of Doom is enjoyable enough.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Dumping the set-like feel of Temple of Doom and going for location shoot of Raiders Steven Spielberg’s vision looks fantastic. There’s no denying that some of the effects have dated and Jeffrey Boam’s script a little heavy on the comedy, but George Lucas and Menno Meyjes story is exciting and intricate. In this quest Indiana Jones must rescue his kidnapped father and stop the Nazis that are in search of the Holy Grail.

Although a little forced the cute flash back opening has exciting gusto as you see the influences on young Indy (played by River Phoenix) that turned him into Indiana the man.

The casting is note worthy, Alison Doody as Dr. Elsa Schneider is wonderful, playing the perfect Austrian (even though she’s Irish). Harrison Ford is once again flawless in the title role, a part that he was made for. Sean Connery is exceptional as Indy’s father and familiar faces return including John Rhys-Davies’ Sallah and Denholm Elliott’s Marcus Brody. My only complaint is that Brody’s character is far more comical than he comes across in the first adventure.

With John Williams familiar fantastic score, coupled with globe trotting adventure and action set pieces galore, Last Crusade is an exciting must see classic.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

As a fan it’s a mixed bag, to anyone one else a fantastic piece of entertainment.

The downside of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is that it has the set type feel of the second film, as oppose to the location feel of the first and third Indy adventure. John Hurt is wasted as the gibbering wreck Professor Oxley and Ray Winstone although humorous is given a clichéd stereotype side kick role. Karen Allen again plays Marion Ravenwood but doesn’t get enough to do. Also there’s not enough meaty dialogue too fill in-between the action sequences that are bogged down with CGI.

The good stuff – Despite Cate Blanchett’s ever changing Russian accent as Irina Spalko she gives a great physical performance. Even though Mr Ford has aged, the story accommodates the 19 year gap since the last film. Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams is surprisingly great and has the charisma to carry the series into new adventures. John Williams score is flawless as usual and Fords performance as an aged adventurer continues to capture the imagination.

Overall, even with over cooked ending, written by George Lucas (story), is balanced by the great performance of Harrison Ford, as Indiana Jones, under Steven Spielbergs direction. Get the hat and whip ready – hopefully there’ll be another adventure soon!
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