He’s travelled all over the world, battling Nazis, dark cults, the KGB, and more Nazis. Indiana Jones is arguably the greatest adventure series ever made, but how does each film compare? Find out here with the list of all the Indiana Jones movies RANKED.
4. The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (2008)
This is a pretty simple one. Nearly twenty years after the end of the original trilogy, Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford and more returned to the series with the monumental disappointment that was The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.
It’s not a horrific film, and does have a few good moments, including a fun car chase early on, as well as a pretty decent performance by Harrison Ford back in the lead role, but on the whole, it’s easy to see why this is almost universally considered the worst of the series.
Not only does it feature a dull and ultimately preposterous story that fails to capture the great sense of adventure that is so integral to the series, but its overuse of CGI and later setting mean that it just doesn’t feel like an Indiana Jones movie. Sure, it’s got all the ingredients, but when put together with such a slow-moving story and such excessive visual effects, it really makes for a disappointing and frustrating watch that, sadly, may have killed the franchise.
3. The Last Crusade (1989)
The original Indiana Jones trilogy is excellent from start to finish, and it’s perfectly reasonable for the three films to be put in any order. However, for me, third place goes to 1989’s The Last Crusade.
It’s a film adored by so many, and regularly tops rankings of the series. That’s a fair opinion, because The Last Crusade is a hugely entertaining watch from start to finish. With some of the best action of the series (and the action is pretty brilliant in each film), and a re-injection of a light-hearted, fun-loving tone, there’s a lot to love about the film.
What’s more is that the addition of Indy’s father, played by Sean Connery, really pays off. Not only do Ford and Connery have excellent chemistry that makes the father-son relationship so enjoyable, but it gives Indiana Jones a more human element that we hadn’t ever seen before. Sure, he’d always been vulnerable, but the emotional relationship he has with his father is something really special that helps to make this film a great watch.
The only reason that I place The Last Crusade in third is because I feel it’s just a little too light-hearted. It’s massively entertaining, and fast-paced enough to keep it exciting and engaging, but the loss of the gritty and more violent nature of the first two films meant that this felt a little too watered-down to me, as if it were too close to modern blockbusters rather than the classic adventure serials that the films tribute.
2. The Temple Of Doom (1984)
Apparently, the second Indiana Jones film is a prequel. To be honest, it doesn’t make much of a difference to how you watch it, because The Temple Of Doom is an absolutely fantastic second edition of the series.
It’s been heavily criticised for its excessive violence and overly dark tone, which is understandable if this is meant to be a family-oriented series like Star Wars, but my feeling is that Indiana Jones isn’t really for kids. Kids can watch and love it, I know I did when I was young, but watching the incredibly dark Temple Of Doom is a unique and unforgettable experience that you just don’t see coming.
Basically, the story follows Indy as he fights a brutal cult in Northern India who perform human sacrifices, and use child slaves for labour in their temple. It’s pretty disturbing stuff, and that’s backed up when you see the degree of violence. However, the darkness of the film is so unique within the series, and also so effective and frightening at moments, that it has to be praised.
Also, although the film does get off to a bit of a sluggish start, the final hour is a completely non-stop thrill ride. You’ve seen fast-paced movies, and then you’ve seen The Temple of Doom. Seriously, over the course of sixty minutes, there’s incessant action (all incredibly acted and directed), and it leaves you pretty much no time to breathe. This is an intense watch, but you’ll come out the other side feeling exhilarated by such a unique and pulsating film.
1. Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
For me, there’s no alternative for the best Indiana Jones movie. It’s Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Better than any other adventure movie I’ve ever seen, the first Indiana Jones film is, in my mind, pretty much perfect. It’s got stunning action sprinkled throughout; not too much that you get tired of it, but not too little that it gets boring. It’s an adventure film full of drama, mystery and excitement, but most importantly, it’s one of the most entertaining movies ever made.
Harrison Ford’s performance is pitch-perfect in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, and his brilliant love-hate relationship with sidekick Marion Ravenwood (played just as brilliantly by Karen Allen) breathes such life into the protagonists that we take this adventure with. It’s a film where you’re not quite sure how anything will turn out. Indy keeps getting into trouble all over the world, and it really gives the film an unpredictability and excitement that you just don’t get at any other time in the series.
The thing that I personally love about Raiders the most, however, is that it tributes the classic adventure serials of the 1930s absolutely perfectly. It feels so much like an old film, through Steven Spielberg’s beautiful directing, the astonishing desert setting, John Williams’ wonderful score, the brilliant practical visual effects and so much more.
If you put it in black-and-white, it would easily pass for an adventure movie of old, and that’s the unique charm and brilliance of Raiders Of The Lost Ark that no other film I’ve seen has ever done; it feels exactly like the genre it’s paying tribute to, and that is something that you just can’t miss.