Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Special Edition
DVD review by Sombrero Grande

In anticipation of the May 22nd release of the fourth Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, all three "original trilogy" movies are being rereleased on DVD, sold both as a set and individually for the first time. I'm here today to talk for a bit about my favorite installment in the trilogy: Indiana Jones and Last Crusade.

Last Crusade plays the broadest of all the Indiana Jones movies to date--it contains the most moments played deliberately for laughs and cheers as even Steven Spielberg himself points out in one of the DVD's bonus features--but it works because of how seamlessly the comedy and action are interwoven together. With all the joking around and silliness, there's not a single "groaner" moment in the entire movie (sadly I expect that same cannot be said of Crystal Skull as the trailer alone already sports two such moments). Sean Connery (playing Indy's father, in case you've never seen the movie and/or live under a rock) provides a masterful comedic performance in particular and is largely the reason why many of the broadest scenes work. Watching him run along a beach with his umbrella, it's almost easy to forget the guy played the original James Bond.

Last Crusade opens with a peek back into a very fateful day for a young Indiana Jones. In the matter of a few minutes, the boy scout uses a whip for the first time, develops his deathly fear of snakes, and receives his trademark fedora while setting a precedent for the kind of frantic adventure that would embroil him all his life. The rest of the film deals with a grown-up Indy searching for his lost father who was in fact searching for the one and only Holy Grail when he went missing. But, if you're reading this then you should already know all about the movie and are merely trying to decide if you should pony up to buy this Special Edition DVD.

What's "new" on this release is a handful of unimpressive "all-new special features" that include a storyboard-to-film comparison of the circus train scene, photo galleries and trailer and PC demo for the new LEGO Indiana Jones video game. Not having a PC anymore I couldn't play the demo, but the trailer makes it look so similar to the LEGO Star Wars video games that I felt like I'd already played it with a different coat of paint. There's also a "new introduction" to Last Crusade featuring Spielberg and Lucas chatting briefly about the development of the movie; "Indy's Women," an American Film Institute roundtable discussion featuring Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody reminiscing about their characters and acting in the respective films; and "Indy's Friends and Enemies," a fluff piece that describes the love-interests, sidekicks and villains of the Indiana Jones films so far. All in all, there's really nothing in these special features that is worth seeking out by anyone other than the most hard-core Indy fan, but those folks probably already know all the information presented within and already own the complete trilogy from the first DVD release.

Really the only significant reason to pick up these discs is because this is the first time the Indy movies have been available as separate purchases. So, if you didn't pick up the entire trilogy before and just want to pick up, say, Raiders and Last Crusade for a reasonable price (and don't want to even deal with Temple of Doom), then here you go.


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