Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic and beloved movie franchises of all time, featuring the daring and adventurous archeologist Dr. Henry Walton Jones Jr. aka Indiana Jones.
Since his debut in Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, the adventurer turned archeologist has wowed audiences with his daring exploits, a whip-cracking, razor-sharp wit, and unforgettable quips in four films, the most recent of which was released in 2008.
The franchise is set to return with its fifth and final installation in the series, marking Harrison Ford's last appearance as the adventurous archeologist. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is set to release in theaters on June 30, 2023. Directed by James Mangold, the film's cast includes prominent actors like Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mads Mikkelsen, Antonio Banderas, John Rhys-Davies, and others.
With the imminent release of the final film of the series, we will explore the different Indiana Jones films that have been released till date, in this article. Whether you are a die-hard fan or simply curious about the franchise, this article will provide an analysis of the best films under the banner.
Note: This article reflects the views of the author.
The top 3 movies under the Indiana Jones banner
Ironically, the following titles are the ones that came out in the 1980s. With an antiquated format, technology, and style, as well as a classic Hollywood vibe, the first three films in the series beat out the most recently released film.
As many fans would agree, Indiana Jones fits better in an older setting, filled with the raw machismo of the character alongside a Western vibe to it. A newer style did not quite satisfy the ardent fans, who were left wanting more after The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
1) Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is widely considered to be the best title under the banner. Released in 1981, the film was directed by Steven Spielberg and introduced Harrison Ford as the adventurous archeologist, Indiana Jones, alongside prominent actors like Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, and Denholm Elliott in pivotal roles.
The movie follows Dr. Jones on a quest to find the Ark of the Covenant, a powerful biblical artifact said to make any army - in possession of it - invincible. Dr. Jones races against his German rival, who is aiding Nazis in retrieving the artifact and becoming nigh invincible.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is nothing short of a visual masterpiece with well-executed action sequences and thrilling chases set in an adventurous setting. The film went on to win several accolades, including five Oscars, seven Saturn Awards, and a BAFTA.
2) The Last Crusade
The Last Crusade is the third installment in the Indiana Jones franchise, released in 1989. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film introduced Sean Connery as Indy's father, Dr. Henry Jones Sr.
What makes the film stand out is the dynamic between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, whose performances add depth to their characters. The compelling storyline, strong performances, and exciting action elevates the film to a new level, bringing it to the second spot on our list.
The film revolves around Indy's search for his father, who has gone missing while searching for the Holy Grail, an artifact with the power to grant immortality. Along the way, Jones must face off against a secret society known as the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword and a ruthless Nazi commander named Walter Donovan, who is also seeking the Grail.
3) Temple of Doom
Temple of Doom was released in 1984 and is the second film under the Indiana Jones banner. With Steven Spielberg in the director's chair and Lucas working on the story, the film became a commercial success but attracted a mixed response from critics for its darker tone and graphic violence. The inaccurate and stereotypical portrayal of Indian culture was also criticized by many.
However, it still had its share of thrilling action sequences and memorable characters which are customary for an Indiana Jones movie. Set in 1935, the film acts as a prequel to the Raiders of the Lost Ark with Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Philip Stone, and Roshan Seth joining the cast as new additions.
In The Temple of Doom, Jones reaches a village in India where he is tasked with retrieving a sacred stone stolen from a small village. He teams up with nightclub singer Willie Scott and a young orphan named Short Round. Together, they discover a sinister cult that uses child slavery and human sacrifice to maintain its power.
These three are undoubtedly the top three films in the Indiana Jones series till date. Although The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was released with the same director and cinematography crew, with much better CGI than before, fans were not as fond of it. While the fourth film is still enjoyable, the first three films set the bar so high that fans were left wanting more.
With the fifth movie under the banner, The Dial of Destiny, set to release on June 30, 2023, fans are waiting with bated breaths to witness the legendary archeologist back in action.