REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE

CAST
Harrison Ford (Star Wars)
Sean Connery (Highlander)
Alison Doody (A View To A Kill)
Denholm Elliott (Trading Places)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Julian Glover (Game of Thrones)
River Phoenix (Stand By Me)
Michael Byrne (Bravehart)
Alex Hyde-White (Pretty Woman)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
In 1912, 13-year-old Indiana Jones is horseback riding with his Boy Scout troop in Moab, Utah. While scouting caves, Indy discovers a group of grave robbers who have found a golden crucifix belonging to Coronado and steals it from them, hoping to donate it to a museum. The men give chase through a passing circus train, leaving Indy with a bloody cut across his chin from a bullwhip and a new phobia of snakes. Indy escapes, but the local sheriff makes him return the crucifix. Impressed with Indy’s bravery, the leader of the robbers gives Indy his fedora.
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In 1938, two years after Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indy recovers the crucifix off the coast of Portugal and donates it to Marcus Brody’s museum. Later, Indy is introduced to Walter Donovan, who informs him that Indy’s father, Henry Jones, Sr., has vanished while searching for the Holy Grail, using an incomplete inscription as his guide. Indy then receives Henry’s Grail diary via mail from Venice. Realizing that he would not have sent the diary unless he was in trouble, Indy and Marcus travel to Venice, where they meet Henry’s Austrian colleague, Dr. Elsa Schneider. Beneath the library where Henry was last seen, Indy and Elsa discover the tomb of a First Crusade knight, which also contains a complete version of the inscription that Henry had used, this one revealing the location of the Grail. They flee, however, when the catacombs are set aflame by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society that protects the Grail from evildoers. After a speedboat chase, Indy and Elsa capture one of the Brotherhood, Kazim, and Indy tells him that his goal is only to find his father and that he has no interest in finding the Grail. Kazim tells him that Henry is being held in Castle Brunwald on the Austrian-German border. Marcus later reveals a map drawn by Henry of the route to the Grail, which begins in Alexandretta.
At Castle Brunwald, Indy rescues Henry, but learns that Elsa and Donovan are actually working with the Nazis, and are using him to find the Grail for them. Meanwhile, Marcus is captured in Hatay, Turkey, while waiting with Sallah for the Joneses. The Joneses escape from Castle Brunwald and recover the diary from Elsa at a Nazi rally in Berlin, barely escaping from an accidental face to face encounter with Adolf Hitler, who casually autographs Henry’s diary. They board a Zeppelin to leave Germany, but the Zeppelin soon turns around and the Joneses escape in a parasite biplane. They crash while engaging in a dogfight with the Luftwaffe due to Henry’s accidentally shooting the plane’s tail off, but Henry redeems himself on the ground by alarming a flock of birds to take flight in front of the Luftwaffe fighter causing the pilot to crash.
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The two meet up with Sallah in Hatay, where they learn of Marcus’s abduction. The Nazis are already moving toward the Grail’s location, using the map possessed by Marcus. In exchange for a Rolls-Royce Phantom II, the Sultan of Hatay has given the Nazis full access to his equipment for the expedition, including a large tank. Indy, Henry, and Sallah find the Nazi expedition, which is ambushed by the Brotherhood. During the battle, Henry is captured by SS Colonel Ernst Vogel while attempting to rescue Marcus from the tank; Kazim and his comrades are killed. The younger Jones pursues the tank on horseback and, with the aid of Sallah, saves Henry and Marcus. He is then caught up in a fight with Vogel, and barely escapes before the tank goes over a cliff, crushing Vogel to death.
 
Indy, Henry, Marcus, and Sallah catch up with the surviving Nazis, led by Donovan and Elsa, who have found the temple where the Grail is kept but are unable to pass through the three protective booby traps. Donovan shoots Henry, mortally wounding him, in order to force Indy to risk his life in the traps to find the Grail and use its healing power to save Henry. Using the information in the diary and followed by Donovan and Elsa, Indy safely overcomes the traps (circular blades, a word puzzle, and an invisible bridge across a bottomless pit), and reaches the Grail’s chamber, which is guarded by a knight. He has been kept alive for seven hundred years by the power of the Grail, which is hidden among dozens of fake Grails. The knight explains that they must choose which Grail they think is the real one but warns them to choose wisely because even though the real Grail brings life, all of the fake Grails take life away.
Elsa betrays Donovan by deliberately giving him a golden chalice, which causes him to decay into dust upon drinking from it. Indy then uses his expert knowledge to find the true Grail, a plain cup of a carpenter, which the knight warns cannot be taken beyond the great seal at the temple’s entrance. Indy fills the Grail with holy water and takes it to Henry, which they give to him to drink along with pouring the rest on his gunshot wound, instantly healing him. Elsa then takes the Grail past the great seal, ignoring and forgetting the knight’s warning. The temple begins to rapidly collapse and, even as Indy attempts to save her, Elsa falls to her death into an abyss because she is unable to let go of her obsession with the Grail. Indy nearly suffers the same fate, but is saved by Henry, who convinces him to let it go. While the knight watches them, the Joneses, Marcus, and Sallah then narrowly escape the collapsing temple. Afterwards, Henry reveals the origins of Indy’s nickname to the group as the name of the family’s former dog before they all ride off into the sunset.
 
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, with its crisp script, thrilling music by John Williams, fine directing by Spielberg and a convincing chemistry between Ford and Connery, is one of the best action films made in the 1980s, and its release on DVD proves that it, like the other films in the series, has aged well.

REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Karen Allen (The Perfect Storm)
Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Ronald Lacey (Red Sonja)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Denholm Elliott (Trading Places)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Wolf Kahler (Barry Lyndon)
Anthony Higgins (Young Sherlock Holmes)
William Hootkins (Batman)
Pat Roach (Kull The Conqueror)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
George Harris (Layer Cake)
Bob Papenbrook (Jeepers Creepers 2)
Frank Welker (Transforners)
In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones surrenders the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane. Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood, under whom Jones studied at the University of Chicago. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Kingdom of Egypt, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.
The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to the Kingdom of Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion. Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She physically rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht. Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire and Toht severely burns his hand trying to take the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.
The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah, a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a fistfight with a Nazi mechanic and destroys the flying wing that was to transport the Ark to Berlin. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.
The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a panzerfaust, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death; their beautiful appearance gives way to fangs and rotting flesh. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and, utilizing Belloq as a conductor, shoots bolts of fiery energy into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion, and the pillar of fire rises into the sky. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.
In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was revolutionary cinema, paving way for summer blockbusters that would attempt for the same winning mix of thrills and humor. Only its sequels matched and/or surpassed it, but some have actually come close (The Mummy). If you haven’t seen Raiders yet, put it on the top of your list.

REVIEW: THE BOURNE IDENTITY (1988)

CAST

Richard Chamberlain (Shogun)
Jaclyn Smith (Charlies Angels)
Anthony Quayle (Lawrence of Arabia)
Donald Moffat  (The Thing)
Peter Vaughn (Game of Thrones)
Denholm Elliott (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
James Faulkner (Atomic Blonde)

The Bourne Identity (1988)While movie-goers are probably more familiar with the newer, Matt Damon, version of The Bourne Identity, Robert Ludlum’s novel was also the basis for a two-part TV miniseries during 1988, also titled The Bourne Identity. As many did , I too saw The Bourne Identity film having no knowledge of the earlier miniseries.

I found that it worked it is much closer to the original source material. Richard Chamberlain (Jason Bourne) and Jaclyn Smith (Marie) star, with Anthony Quayle (General Villiers), Donald Moffat (David), Yorgo Voyagis (Carlos), Peter Vaughan (Koening), and Denholm Elliot (Washburn) in supporting roles. A man washes ashore in France with no memory of who he is and several gunshot wounds. Nursed back to health by a doctor, the only clue he has to his past is a Swiss bank account number surgically implanted in his hip. At the bank in Zurich, he discovers his name – Jason Bourne – and that he possesses a large sum of money. When he tries to leave the bank, however, assassins attempt to kill him. In order to escape, he takes Marie, an economist, hostage. In tracing the few clues and recalled memories he uncovers, he realizes that much of his past matches that of Carlos, a European assassin. With numerous agencies after him, Jason Bourne must uncover his true identity and why he’s wanted…before he ends up dead.

The Bourne Identity is a very competent thriller that mainly escapes the TV miniseries ‘feel.’ Though running a tad over three hours in length, it is, for the most part, well paced and interesting. However, some of the film does move a bit too slowly, especially much of the second hour. Some of the story is overly complicated as well. In my mind, though, there is only one main problem with The Bourne Identity, and that is Richard Chamberlain. Chamberlain is overly stiff and displays little in the way of facial expressions throughout, making the character rather bland. The chemistry between he and Smith is decent, though nothing special.

The Bourne Identity TV miniseries from 1988 is easy to recommend to those intrigued with the theatrical release.