Have you ever asked a parent with multiple children which one is their favorite? Chances are they will say that they don’t have a favorite, they love them all equally, blah, blah, blah. I used to believe that, and then I became a parent and found out they had all been lying this whole time. I always had my suspicions (I’m looking at you mom and Josh), but becoming a father of 5 kids confirmed it: Parents do have favorites. Some people might say that picking the best Indiana Jones movie is like picking your favorite child: it can’t be done. I beg to differ. Not only can it be done, but I am going to do it, right now.
A couple of things to note here. I realize that there are only 4 movies to rank here, so it won’t be a long list. Some might say not really worth the time to do. I disagree. This is a serious issue, and there needs to be a discussion. I am not afraid to tackle the tough issues here. Also, any list is completely objective. I fully expect people to disagree. I invite you to leave a comment and let me know what you think and why. Most important, it’s all for fun, really. I just enjoy talking about things like this. Indie was a hero of mine. He made things cool that shouldn’t be cool. Things like fedoras and History. He was awesome, so i am excited to talk about his awesomeness.
This is a countdown, so we will start with the last and work our way up to the best. Let’s be honest, 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the red-headed step-child of the bunch. For some reason, it’s just not as good. It doesn’t feel as much like the other movies. It’s not the communists instead of Nazis, it’s not the weird alien things at the end, it’s not even Shia LeBeouf. All of those might be reasons why you think this is not as good, but you’d be wrong. I liked that the story involved Commies instead of Nazis. It takes place in the 1950’s and the major evil power of the time would have been communists, since the Nazis were all gone. I thought that transition made sense. The aliens were definitely outside the realm of what Indie had tackled before, but not that much outside. Supernatural stuff seems to be his specialty, so I didn’t have any major issues with that. Shia is a weirdo. I think we all know that now, so it would be easy to say that he ruins this movie. In 2008, though, we didn’t know how weird he was, so I didn’t mind him being in the movie. I like the Indiana Jones franchise, and Harrison Ford isn’t getting any younger, so having a “son” pop up to take over for him wouldn’t be horrible. I don’t want that to be Shia now, but in 2008 it didn’t bother me. No, the reason why this movie, in my opinion, will always be inferior comes down to three letters: C G I. The other three films were all on location, so the deserts looked like deserts and the jungles looked like jungles. There is a certain authenticity that is lost when everything is green screen and computer generated. I get that this is the direction that a lot of films are going in Hollywood, and for some it works. For others, not so much. I think the way the film looked is what really ruined it for me.
I know, for many fans, this is in the wrong spot. For many, growing up, this was a beloved classic, and putting it in the third spot just seems wrong. Let’s face it, for many of you, this is like putting it in last place, since you may or may not count Kingdom. To those of you, I say sorry. I apologize now for what I write next. I didn’t get to watch Temple of Doom growing up. My parents thought it was dark and scary and they just didn’t want me watching it. In other words, I did not grow up with this one. In fact, I was a grown man when I first saw this film, and it was hard for me to appreciate it as much as the other two entries in the trilogy. If you take a step back and look at this film subjectively, I think maybe you will see that it is what it is: a weird 1980’s sequel that really doesn’t feel as timeless as the others in this series. I don’t have the same emotional attachment to this one as the next two, and I recognize that, so that may be why I feel the way I do, but you have to admit that this one is strange. It takes place in Asia (not Africa or the middle east) and he is fighting against some weird evil cult (not Nazis). It just feels different. Plus, the monkey brains have always grossed me out. I know many people who read this are not going to like this ranking. Again, I’m sorry.
The Last Crusade is not just one of my favorite Indiana Jones Movies, it is one of my favorite movies. period. I love it. This is one that I did grow up with and remember well. This is the first one I remember seeing in the theater, and it was just amazing. One of my favorite things is that it starts out in Utah. To think, Indiana Jones spent part of his adolescence in Utah, it just made our state cooler. I loved the whole quest to find the grail and the fact that he needs to find the right one to save his dad. Also, maybe we don’t need a someone to take over for Indie. He did drink from the cup, so he should be immortal. Interesting thought there. This movie combined the great action with some pretty funny dialogue, especially between Professor Jones and “Junior.” Harrison Ford and Sean Connery were great together. This was just a great ending to a trilogy, including a classic riding off into a sunset closing scene. Just a lot of fun, and it never gets old.
There is so much about Raiders of the Lost Ark that is Indiana Jones. This establishes the whip, the fedora, the fear of snakes, the spy/archaeologist occupation, the Nazi/Indie rivalry, etc. This is even where we get the classic giant boulder scene that is just quintessential Indie. The one thing that is not Indiana Jones on the is film is the title. It is not Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Nope. Just Raiders of the lost Ark. People get that wrong, we need to educate them. Just like Star Wars was not Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope until the prequels came around. This film brought something totally new and cemented Harrison Ford as the coolest guy of the 80’s. There is a lot to love about this film. I enjoy watching it every time, and every time I think I notice something new that I like. I think it feels timeless, and hopefully it always will. It is a classic I will show to my kids to remind them that there were cool movies before CGI that were under 2 hours long (1 hour 55 minutes). It is what an action movie should be. It made me want to grow up to be Indiana Jones. Sometimes, when my wife isn’t looking, I still try to work on my whipping skills. Maybe someday.