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Paramount Studios presents
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

"The search for the Cup of Christ is the search for the divine in all of us. But if you want facts, Indy, I've none to give you. At my age, I'm prepared to take a few things on faith."
- Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott)

Review By: Brian Calhoun   
Published: November 17, 2003

Stars: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery
Other Stars: Denholm Elliott, Alison Doody, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover, River Phoenix
Director: Steven Spielberg

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, some sexual situations
Run Time: 02h:06m:44s
Release Date: October 21, 2003
UPC: 097360612547
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Steven Spielberg sure can be a hit or miss director. Sometimes he proves to be a master of his craft (Jaws, Saving Private Ryan), while other times I have to wonder what on earth he was thinking (Hook, The Lost World). On occasion, he even hits and misses in the same movie. Undeniably enjoyable yet overflowing with cheese, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade is one of those films.

The silliest story of the Indiana Jones Trilogy, The Last Crusade finds the tough as nails archaeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), on a quest to find the Holy Grail (yes, the Cup of Christ). When he discovers that his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), has disappeared while looking for the sacred artifact, Indy travels from the United States to Italy to Germany while trying to stay one step ahead of the Nazis, who also seek the grail.

When the end credits rolled, I was still not certain how I felt about The Last Crusade. I certainly believe it to be a better film than the second installment, Temple of Doom, yet I found that film to be a more enjoyable viewing experience. Crusade benefits from tighter direction and a stronger narrative purpose, yet the story is not as engaging as Temple or anywhere near the caliber of the first film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. While the entire series is anything but plausible, Crusade is more rooted in fantasy than the other installments, an awkward device that sometimes undermines the dramatic intensity of the story. I was amazed to discover that many of the special effects look absurd. The dogfight sequence particularly suffers from dated techniques. While I typically find CGI a nuisance, I must admit that it may have helped this scene significantly.

The characters are a mixed bag. On one side we have the cardboard-thin Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), an extremely uninteresting villain whose presence is weakened by a dreadfully stiff performance. On the other side we have Henry Jones Sr., who proves to be the saving grace of the film. Casting Sean Connery as the aging professor was a masterstroke. The suave and debonair style Connery exhibited as James Bond is gone, replaced with a brilliant oxymoronic display of bumbling aplomb. The father-son relationship between Indiana and Henry is a pleasure to observe and significantly boosted my enjoyment of the film. Another standout is the late River Phoenix, who plays young Indiana Jones in the opening sequence. Phoenix demonstrated a keen ability for mimicking Ford's unique facial expressions, a talent that fully convinced me that he was the spitting image of the adventuresome archaeologist.

The Last Crusade is the quirkiest in the trilogy, with slapstick humor that succeeds admirably on occasion yet backfires all too often. Thankfully, most of the childish elements that plagued Temple of Doom are absent, but there are nevertheless several truly eye-rolling one-liners. I suppose this is all thanks to Spielberg's fascination with the lighthearted, carefree sense of wonder that was evident in most of his films from the 1980s. Yet, I cannot be too hard on the esteemed director. The Last Crusade still shows Spielberg as a master filmmaker, always capable of injecting his films with a touch of magic. While overall a bit loose, The Last Crusade is a noble effort from a gifted filmmaker and an admirable end to the entertaining Indiana Jones saga.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Ironically, the most recent film in the trilogy may be the most visually undesirable. However, that is certainly not to say that it does not look fantastic! The night scenes look particularly stunning, boasting strong blacks with beautiful shadow delineation. Color reproduction is marvelous and rivals the vibrant saturation of very recent films. The print is remarkably smooth and rarely blemished by any imperfections. Unfortunately, the image also has a tendency to appear somewhat digital and is occasionally marred by minor yet noticeable pixelization. Several scenes exhibit a soft characteristic, which detracts from the otherwise remarkable detail. While edge enhancement is infrequent, it is quite distracting when evident. Additionally, there is an unusual incident of apparent print damage during the scene where Indy attempts to strike up a conversation with his father. It may sound like a long list of problems, but none of these trivial deficiencies are enough to detract from an overall superb image transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Last Crusade is unquestionably the best of the bunch in the audio department, besting many more recent soundtracks in terms of creativity and fidelity. As with the other two films in the trilogy, dialogue is exceptionally clean and clear without the slightest hint of distortion. John Williams' music score is presented with remarkable clarity. So many modern music scores are plagued with bass overload due to a bloated LFE channel, but The Last Crusade excels in this area with its beautifully refined low end. When it comes to the action sequences, the bass delivers a powerhouse of energy, firing subsonic tones throughout the room without ever suffering from a boomy sense of artificiality. The surround channels are used impeccably, fully drawing the viewer into the heart of the action without ever drawing attention to themselves. There is beautiful separation between the screeching highs and thunderous lows of this soundtrack; never is this more apparent than during the energetic tank sequence. The generous dynamic range offers wonderful transitions between extreme quiescence and peak sound pressure levels. Be sure to turn this soundtrack up loud, or risk missing half the experience.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:05m:54s

Extras Review: While the majority of extras for the Indiana Jones Trilogy boxed set are contained on the fourth bonus disc, each individual disc offers a weblink to the Indiana Jones DVD web site.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

My expectations were high for this final installment in the Indiana Jones saga, and I must admit to feeling a bit dissatisfied. Nevertheless, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade succeeds as carefree entertainment and is a worthy close to this adventuresome trilogy. Audio fanatics will find great delight in the remastered 5.1 soundtrack, which is demo-worthy material.


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