Last Crusade begins with River Phoenix playing a young Indiana Jones, even at a young age, having a thirst for adventure. His father (Connery), who is also professor of Medieval literature, is acutely obsessed with tracking down any information he can get regarding the whereabouts of the legendary Holy Grail, the cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper, and, as a result, little attention is paid to young Indy. Flash forward to 1938, where Indiana (Harrison Ford) finds that his father has been kidnapped by the Nazis, who are also looking for the Holy Grail, and the legendary powers of immortality it may hold. Indy and his dad have never quite seen eye to eye, which makes Indiana’s subsequent rescue attempts all the more interesting, as he tries to impress a man who only lives for the Grail. Steven Spielberg directs, with another memorable John Williams score in what was intended to be the iconic character’s final cinematic adventure.
While INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM is a sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark, it’s really a prequel, set in 1935, a year before. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) finds himself in Shanghai on the hunt for a precious diamond, but gets in over his head, chased out of town with his assistant, a young boy nicknamed Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan), and Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), a ditsy, blonde, nightclub singer. Having to make a hasty exit into the Himalayas from a crashing airplane, Indy and friends find themselves in a starving village in India, who see their visitors as saviors destined to save their children who they believe have been taken away by resurrected forces of evil at a formerly abandoned palace. The trio set off for the palace in search of lost children, a sacred stone…and fortune and glory.
The year is 1936, just before the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Hitler has been seeking the long-lost Ark of the Covenant, the container for the original tablets containing the Ten Commandments, reportedly used by God’s people in the days of old to crush their enemies using its vast powers. For over 2,000 years, the Ark has been completely hidden somewhere, and the Nazis are digging in one of the sites reported to be a resting place for it. The American government seeks fame and fortune hunter, Dr. Henry Jones, to find the Ark before it ends up in the wrong hands, but it’s easier said than done, as he must not only face peril at every turn, he must bring along an old flame who no longer has much tolerance for the likes of Indiana Jones.
Harrison Ford would catapult to super-stardom after this one, with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas solidifying their place as they greatest blockbuster filmmakers of their generation. Can’t forget that amazing John Williams score, either.
Don Bluth collaborates with executive producer Steven Spielberg again, this time also joining forces with George Lucas for THE LAND BEFORE TIME, the film that would kick off a series of ten additional straight-to-video animated features for kids. Dinosaurs were all the rage, and Bluth and co. rode the wave to box office success with this feature about a young dinosaur that must find his way to the Great Valley, with the help of a variety of adorably cute dino friends.
This final entry sees the Empire creating a new Death Star, a feat with such magnitude, even the Emperor himself has come to oversee the progress. Meanwhile, a rescue attempt is underway to try to spring Han Solo from his icy trap in Jabba the Hut’s lair. Luke has grown in his Jedi training, but only a confrontation with Darth Vader will make the transformation complete, and its a showdown Luke wants to avoid now that familial ties have been revealed. The Rebellion once again plans to destroy the Death Star before it becomes functional by eliminating the force field surrounding it generated by a base on a nearby planet, but the Emperor isn’t a fool, and has a few surprises up his sleeve.
The Empire Strikes Back continues the Star Wars saga in exciting fashion, with the Empire now having driven the Rebels from their secret base to another on an ice planet called Hoth. The Empire eventually locates this new base, forcing an evacuation, whereupon a more experienced Luke is told by the “spirit” (aka Force Ghost) of Obi-Wan Kenobi to seek out a wise and powerful Jedi instructor named Yoda for training. Meanwhile, romance is brewing between Han Solo and Princess Leia,, but Han has problems of his own as he is plagued by bounty hunters and the Empire out to nab him. Excitement erupts as Luke and Vader meet face to face, and some startling revelations occur.