This week, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is in theaters. For those who still haven’t seen it, and for those in no rush to see it, I thought it would be a good time to look back at (and rank) the first four films in the series.
Now, everyone has the favorite entry. In fact, most fans are probably in agreement on what their least favorite one is. But when it comes to the first three films, people have very different opinions regarding which film they place at the top of their list. So with that said let’s jump into it by getting the obvious out of the way.
4) Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
In the years since the Star Wars prequels first came out. I’ve seen many fans of that franchise defend those films and claim they were unfairly treated. Whether you agree with them or not (I don’t), there’s no denying that those films have a much less negative reception towards them now compared to when they were released. I don’t think that ever really happened with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. It seems like fans feel just as negatively about it now as they did back in 2008. For myself, the problem is not the premise. Aliens really aren’t that big of a leap for me after seeing people getting their hearts ripped out and survive or an immortal knight. To me the biggest problem with KOTCS is that it is blatantly obvious that Steven Spielberg did not want to make this movie. He outright said that in making of the film. George Lucas and Harrison Ford kept asking him for years to make a fourth film and he kept holding out especially after Lucas told him about wanting to do a film with aliens. When watching the film, it just feels like Spielberg made it on autopilot. The heart and the feeling of adventure is just not there. There was an overabundance of CG in place of the practical effects and stunts from the original films. It just felt like something that was made out of obligation more than anything else. Regardless of how Dial of Destiny is received, I think Spielberg made the right decision in passing directing duties to someone else.
3) Temple of Doom
I’m in the camp of people who enjoy Temple of Doom more than I care to admit. There are some who really dislike it and prior to Crystal Skull it was considered the weakest in the series. It’s understandable for a number of reasons, Willie’s an annoying character and there are a LOT of racist stereotypes that were offensive even when the film was first released, but there are also things about the film that I think are worth admiring. For better or worse, this may be the most unique film in the series. For one, it’s not technically a sequel, It’s a prequel set a year before the first film because Spielberg didn’t want to use the Nazis as villains again. What started out as an idea to do a haunted house evolved into doing a story involving a cult. Also, like Empire Strikes Back, the filmmakers wanted this film to have a darker tone to it and I actually think it works. There are moments that are genuinely scary and tense. Ultimately what holds the film back is a lack of good supporting characters (except Short Round – he’s still great), as well as a lot of insensitive imagery that’s just hard to ignore when watching it.
2) Raiders of the Lost Ark
Okay, this is the one that’s probably going to divide people.
While Raiders of the Lost Ark is undoubtedly an amazing movie and a perfect throwback to classic adventure serials with incredible action and a great supporting cast, while we couldn’t even make this list without it, the only real way to explain why it isn’t number one is to explain why I like the last film on this list better. So here we go:
1) The Last Crusade
A lot of people go back and forth and whether they like Raiders or Last Crusade more. There’s probably an argument to be made that Raiders may be a technically better made film or that It has a tighter story. While that may be true to some, for me the thing that puts Last Crusade at the top is the story between Indy and his father Henry Jones Sr. played by the late Sean Connery. From the opening sequence showing Indy’s childhood to their eventual reunion. The chemistry between the two of them is just perfect. Despite the fact that in real life Ford and Connery weren’t actually that far apart in age, they’re very convincing as a father and son. The drama of not always getting along with your dad or feeling like you don’t understand each other is a pretty universal one I think. The ending of the film always makes me a little emotional especially hearing Jones Sr. say “Indiana”. And that final shot of everyone riding into the sunset is just a perfect way to close out the trilogy. It’s no wonder why Spielberg was so hesitant to go back afterwards.
So there you have it. That’s my ranking of the first four Indiana Jones films. Do you agree or disagree? Write your rankings down below, and tell us where you think Dial of Destiny may fall onto. Be on the lookout for another ranking with part 5 included in the near future!