Indiana Jones has been my jam since I was a kid. Seriously, you don’t even know. I was about eleven when my parents deemed me old enough to be introduced to the beloved hero. They started me out with Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, for some reason. I have no idea why but it didn’t matter, I was hooked. I wanted to be an archaeologist immediately. No longer a paleontologist, those Jurassic Park fueled dreams were over. Nope. Archaeology all the way.

So complete was my Indy obsession that I went to a thrift store, bought a fedora and a brown leather vest (as a bonus it had horses on it, my other obsession), and got my hot pink jump rope to use as a whip in the backyard. Hours thereafter were spent playing Indiana Jones with my besty, who was luckily also obsessed. Convenient, right? We’d get flashlights and pretend my closet was an Egyptian tomb. We’d sit in silence with snacks as we read the Indiana Jones choose your own adventure books. We’d have copious amounts of pineapple Kool-Aid and dance around to the soundtrack of Temple of Doom in my living room.

Why am I telling you this? So you understand that, when it comes to this franchise, I have opinions. Lots of them. Let’s get to it.

The worst and best of the Indiana Jones Franchise: ranked in that order

Indiana Jones on a bridge with a sword

These rankings probably won’t surprise anyone, let’s be honest. That said, it’s always a pleasure to dissect story, characters, writing, plot, etc. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing these films yet, here are all the Indiana Jones movies coming to Disney Plus.

Oh, by the way, here there be spoilers. You have been warned. Without further ado, let the judgements begin!

Worst (so far)- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Movie poster for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Ok, this is probably the worst on most people’s list of all the movies currently out. Perhaps you have different reasons than I for this, but let’s delve into MY issues with the film. Firstly, I was biased against it before it began and that’s on me. The money grab for unnecessary sequels from beloved past movies is real and I’m salty about it. I don’t want reboots, I don’t want to revisit old stories and old characters. Why? Because it exists in my past as something perfect. Something beautiful and sacred and delving it up after all these years to add to it is sooooooo risky. It’s basically tainting a piece of my childhood. Taking something I loved so much that it formed parts of my youth, and making a mockery of it. I don’t want to see my hero get drug back into a subpar story with over the top tropes and thin writing. Last I saw that character, he was literally riding off into the sunset, the perfect ending of all perfect endings. Why drag him back?

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Ok, I might be a bit harsh. It wasn’t the worst movie I’d ever seen by any means. But, it was the worst of the franchise. I’m going to try to speed things up though, or we’ll be here all day.

What I liked: Harrison Ford did great. He always does. And though it can be jarring to see a beloved character age, in truth, we need more representation of older heroes in our ageist society. I also appreciate that they brought back Marion and she and Indy finally got together at the end. Lovely! There were some general plot points that were fine. Indiana Jones having a son. The soviets being the villains, some of the action scenes, banter, etc.

What I didn’t like: Shia LaBeouf was not my favorite choice to play Indiana’s son, and that was before his problematic behaviors have come to light. Another issue? Aliens. You lost me at the aliens. I’ve never been able to take them seriously. Also, the fridge scene. You know the one. Yeah.

Interestingly, there are plenty of people who love having old characters and franchises brought back. Star Wars is a prime example. Read here all about the flooded content of Star Wars.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom movie poster

I think a lot of people will agree with me here. This movie is still great but it’s not as great as the others. It took a lot of departures from the usual format of an Indiana Jones movie. For my part, I actually grew up seeing this one third of the original three films. Yup. I was all out of order. I saw Crusade, Raiders, and then Temple. My parents clearly had no respect for chronology. That said, neither did George Lucas, as Temple of Doom actually takes place first in terms of the Indy timeline.

Some of the departures in this movie can be a bit off-putting for some fans. The supernatural elements were pretty over the top, what with Indy being mind-controlled and the whole ripping out people’s hearts thing. Also, it is a lot grittier and darker in tone than the other more light-hearted romps. Some people don’t like that. On top of that, Indy randomly has a kid side-kick, plus the leading lady is a bit ditsy and whiny and many viewers found her annoying and distracting.

What I liked: Though a bit random for him to have a kid tagging along, Short Round is a delight. I personally enjoyed him immensely. I also am a fan of dark and gritty, plus it was nice to see interesting locations such as China and India, rather than the same desert settings so prominent in the other original films. And though Willie used to annoy me, I’ve actually found through the years that she’s a good representative of the everyday person, thrust into an over the top situation and reacting to it with equal fervor. The dinner scene, the bugs she was covered in, jumping out of a plane on a life raft…I’d be whining and freaking out all the time too. Yes, she could have been better written, but she also doesn’t deserve all the hate either.

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What I didn’t like: Some of the plot points didn’t age well. The trope of the white savior coming to the rescue, for instance. The monkey brain scene. The fact that Willie wasn’t a better written character when she’s pretty much the only woman in the movie. Yes, it’s a popcorn flick so the writing stakes are low. Yes, it was the 80s and priorities and society was different. I’m not going to villainize a movie from a different time, I still enjoyed it. But I’m not going to pretend those problems aren’t there, either.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the lost ark movie poster.

Here’s where I get controversial! For most fans, Raiders is the “holy grail” of the franchise. Yes, that’s a joke. If you look at most movie ratings, Raiders does indeed score higher than Crusade. But, for me, it’s the second best of the movies. Perhaps it’s because I saw Crusade first. Perhaps it’s because I loved Sean Connery so much. Either way, this is how my list worked out. Let’s break it down.

What I liked: At this point, it should really be, “What I loved.” Raiders is only a tiny step behind in my book, nearly as good as Crusade. It had mystery, adventure, great music and characters. We all love the bringing a gun to a sword fight scene, I mean it’s impossible not to. Marion was a feisty, fun, likeable heroine who matched Indy wonderfully. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Willie in Temple of Doom fell so short. I mean, look who her predecessor was. Yes, Raiders is hard to beat. The action, characters, and even semi-spooky undercurrent running through the whole thing that smacked of Old Testament angst. They just don’t make them like this anymore, no matter how hard they try.

What I didn’t like: As a kid, the face melting scene scared me so much that to this day I find myself looking away out of sheer nostalgic trauma. That said, the scene is also awesome.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the last crusade movie poster.

Yes, yes, I’m sure I’ve upset many of you by putting this one at number one. But hear me out. Sean Connery. Come on, you have to at least admit that the banter and back and forth between Ford and Connery was brilliant. It’s funny. It’s smart. It’s got action, mystery, and one of the most quotable lines in existence. “He chose…poorly.” Seeing a bit of Indy’s origins with the flashback with River Phoenix was a delight. Learning about his childhood, his relationship with his father, all serve to flesh out the character nicely while still feeling natural and true to our image of him. Though the leading lady of Elsa ultimately proved to be misguided and treacherous, she was well written and had more complexity to her than Willie, by far. It was also lovely to have Sallah return from Raiders, a great character in and of himself.

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What I liked: Pretty much everything, honestly. The humor and action still hold up well. It is incredibly quotable, well-paced, and simply fun from beginning to end.

What I didn’t like: Personally, I like all of it. No, I love all of it. That said, I am aware that many fans find it a bit too light hearted in comparison to the gritty, broody elements the other two original movies depict. They find it too fluffy and without enough suspense. Although I disagree, I do respect that viewpoint. That said, the scene where the villain ages within seconds and turns into a skeleton scared the living crap out of me as a kid. Surely that should count for something.

What about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny?

Indiana Jones and the dial of destiny movie poster.

The newest installment in the franchise is coming soon. Do I think it’s going to be good? Honestly, I’m concerned. I’ve already said that I believe in leaving good things as they are without running the risk of tainting them. I wish writers would focus on making new characters, new stories, new adventures, instead of trying to get into our wallets with plays on nostalgia and manipulating fans’ passions. There are so many great characters that have yet to be created. Why not let the past rest in its greatness, and forge ahead with something completely different?

So, will I watch The Dial of Destiny when it comes out? Of course. Call it morbid curiosity. In reality? I’m a completionist! I can’t just watch four out of five movies and move on with my life! Besides, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it will be good. With the right story, anything is possible. If nothing else, it’s always lovely to see Indiana again, in all his forms. After all, he was my childhood hero.

Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny hits theaters on June 30th.

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