The best Indiana Jones movie: Ranking Harrison Ford’s iconic series
I think we know which one is at the bottom...
No one could've played Indiana Jones better than Harrison Ford.
Indiana Jones is one of the most legendary and iconic movie series in cinema history.
Spearheaded by the immortal Harrison Ford, who has featured in many other beloved franchises such as Star Wars and Blade Runner, the Indiana Jones films are timeless classics.
With the new film, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, out now, we decided to take a look at the previous films and rank all five movies to which is the best Indiana Jones movie.
5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Strong casting. Unfortunately, poor story.
This one really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It's an outlier in what is a very strong franchise.
Crystal Skull’s main issue is the same for a lot of action movies from its time - it had an overreliance on CGI, and while some moments could be ignored, many simply could not be.
Honestly, the only thing that really props this film up is Ford’s natural flare for the role. No one else could ever play Indy as well as he always has, and his chemistry with Karen Allen, who plays Marion Ravenwood, and both actors’ abilities to seamlessly slip back into their old roles help the film out when it was direly needed.
Shia LaBeouf, who was cast to play Indy’s son and sidekick Mutt Williams, was one of the top young action movie stars of the time, so his casting made sense.
Unfortunately, his portrayal of the character seemed somewhat misplaced, bringing too much emotion to the role for a movie where it's really all about the action.
But it’s not all about the characters or the actors who played them that let this movie down. It ultimately has a lacklustre script and the theme of this time having to deal with aliens set in the 1950s just simply didn’t land with the fans.
4. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
The iconic Indy look.
I’m sure there will be many people who think putting the Temple of Doom behind the newest addition is preposterous, but given that the new one is possibly the last time we’ll see Ford in the role, it felt fitting to put it ahead of this marmite-esque entry.
Calling this film Marmite-esque may seem weird, but it does make a bit of sense given that the film is quite hit or miss for fans - some love what Steven Spielberg and George Lucas did here, and others despise it.
Temple of Doom is a prequel to the original film (no prizes as to whose idea that was), with Spielberg and Lucas deciding to go down a darker route, which really shows throughout the film.
The movie is essentially an action-horror with a very dark third act which takes that somewhat grotesque ending of the first film and just runs with it for the entire final part.
Looking at the lighter themes of the movie, the idea of going in a completely opposite direction to Raiders meant that the love interest, Willie Scott (played by Kate Capshaw), fell quite short as she was the complete opposite of the fan-favourite Marion Ravenwood.
However, Indy’s other companion Short Round, played by Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, was an inspired decision, as the chemistry between the pair brought some comic relief throughout.
In the end, though, it was Spielberg’s arguably too-dark themes that bring this movie down, and while it is still a must-watch to this day, it does unfortunately fall to fourth on this list.
3. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Indy ages like fine wine.
The Dial of Destiny is different to every other entry in the franchise given that it is the sendoff for Indy, as well as paced differently compared to the rest.
While some fans see much of the movie as a bit of a drag, with some slower, small scenes as opposed to the exciting and exhilarating action sequences that the franchise is known for, it is often these scenes that are the one’s that make the film as endearing as it is.
Ford is obviously not capable of playing Indy the same way as he was in the 80s. At 80 years old, his role is as a more reserved Indy, one who feels in a way more human than his previous iterations.
The new characters introduced in the movie upheld the action portion of the film. Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw, Indy’s goddaughter, was a welcome addition, as was Mads Mikkelsen as the villain, and as usual, he plays his role to perfection.
In terms of a sendoff for the character, this film is pretty perfect. The idea of Indy looking back on his past adventures blends into us as the viewers watching Ford remember one of his most iconic roles, which really gives this film its plaudits.
2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
(Almost) the Holy Grail of the series.
When it comes to the top two Indiana Jones films, The Last Crusade and Raiders of the Lost Ark are the easy choices. The argument then comes with which one is at the top.
The Last Crusade is (contentiously) going to take the runners-up spot for a reason that will be explained in the final entry, but trust us when we say it could just as easily be ranked number one.
What makes The Last Crusade so good is the fact that it tells Indy’s origin story, looking at a young Indiana Jones and his path to becoming the adventurer we all came to know and love.
It also brings in the element of family, casting the one true James Bond, Sean Connery, in the role of Indy’s father, exploring a theme not just of adventure but of the two rekindling their lost relationship - a big turn on the themes of the previous movie.
The dynamic and chemistry between Ford and Connery is perfect, blending the serious tones with the comedic ones, balancing the movie out and producing a great movie that at the time was going to be the end of the series.
As for the action scenes that made the franchise so popular, Spielberg returned to the original movie style, less of the grotesque from Temple of Doom and more of the thrill and edge-of-your-seat excitement.
There are of course times when those elements are lost - a la Hitler signing Indy’s diary - but that’s the same with almost any movie. It doesn’t take away anything, it's just a scene that makes you think “What just happened?”
But again, it's a brilliant movie, one that painfully misses out on our top spot slightly because of a technicality. This brings us to…
1. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indy HATES snakes, in case you didn't know.
As mentioned in the previous entry, it was incredibly close to choosing between The Last Crusade and Raiders which gets the top spot. Honestly, either one could’ve taken it and it would be right.
But Raiders gets the nod here purely because it's the first, it's the original, none of the others would even be a thing without it, and they especially wouldn’t be a thing if it weren’t for how brilliant this film is.
Raiders of the Lost Ark burst onto the scene and delivers a perfect example of an action-adventure film with consistent pacing, a strong script, and fantastic casting.
Harrison Ford was and is the only man capable of bringing the character to life in the way that it was intended, taking some elements from his turn as Han Solo in the Star Wars universe, mainly the smarts and arrogance coupled with the often dumb luck, creating the perfect Indiana Jones.
Being the first film to bring Jones and Ravenwood (Ford and Allen) together, the chemistry had to be correct, which it absolutely was from their very first scene together and held up for the entirety of the movie.
This was also around the time when Spielberg was at his absolute best, with other classics such as ET, Back to the Future and Jaws all coming out within a 10-year span.
He set the film up brilliantly in the prologue, not spending too much time shaping the character but just enough to make us as the viewers understand Indy.
But the brilliance came when it was revealed he was also an intelligent college professor by day, setting Indy up as a hero, but not like the Superman kind. The two lives that Jones lived were intertwined, with no need to hide one from the other.
It could keep going with how strong a movie Raiders is, but this should be sufficient evidence to support its number-one ranking on our list.
Indiana Jones on Sky Cinema
With the new movie out now, Sky has decided to treat Indiana Jones fans by making all four previous movies available on Sky Cinema, ensuring you can get caught up with the story ahead of your visit to the big screen for the latest offering.
Sky Cinema packages have a lot to offer, with many providing not just movies, but a lot of your favourite TV shows, Netflix, Paramount+, and more!
Check out our pick for the best Sky Cinema package deal available now and enjoy the classic franchise in style!
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