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Ranking the Movies in the ‘Indiana Jones’ Franchise

On Friday, the newest Indiana Jones flick opens. Now, Steven Spielberg isn’t directing, as James Mangold has stepped in, but Harrison Ford is still in the fedora. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny brings the franchise to a close, and while it’s a mostly fitting sendoff to the character, I started thinking about the series as a whole. That got me thinking about the prior installments, so a complete ranking of the films quickly formed. Today, it comes your way, though I fully expect you all to chime in this weekend once you see the latest Indy adventure.

Below, you can see how I rank the Indiana Jones movies, from Raiders of the Lost Ark all the way to the impending Dial of Destiny. One thing I’ll note here is that I’ve polled a handful of folks in the past week or two about their Indy rankings and age, as well as when you first saw one of these films, really does play a part. I would say that every movie except one (not counting the newest) showed up as someone’s personal favorite. So, just keep that in mind when perusing my list…

Here now is how I’d rank the films in the Indiana Jones franchise:

5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — I think that, in part, we’re so harsh on this one because certain sequences are actually terrific. There’s some great Spielberg direction early on, and even if the “nuke the fridge” sequence is ridiculous, it mostly does work. It all just falls apart later on, with the less said about Mutt, the better.

4. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny — It’s not a patch on the original three, as you’ll see below, but it’s more successful than the prior installment, as seen above. You’ve probably read my review (here) by now, but I’ll just include this bit: “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a farewell to an all-timer of a cinematic character. At the same time, it’s an adventure fit for our hero. Not all of it works, but in comparison to the wildly uneven nature of his prior outing, this is mostly satisfying. Would it perhaps have been better to just leave Indy be? Maybe, but after continuing on from a really strong trilogy, it made sense to try and course correct here. What we end up with is no modern classic, to be sure, but an entertaining adventure with an old friend.”

3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — The most divisive of the franchise, some folks love this first sequel (actually a prequel), while others just couldn’t get on board with its darker tone. Short Round and Willie are a major step down from Raiders’ Marion Ravenwood, but as an adventure? It definitely works. This film shows up in the most varied spots on a list of this nature.

2 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade — The best of the sequels, pairing Ford with Sean Connery was a stroke of genius. It’s a ton of fun, initially seemed to be a light sendoff for the character, and gave you almost everything you want from the series. It has adventures, Nazis, and my favorite of the endings. If not for what comes next, it would be the class of the franchise.

1 Raiders of the Lost Ark — For me, it has to be the original. Not only is it the most fun, it’s the one that made the biggest mark on culture. In addition to launching the franchise, it was a major player at the 54th Academy Awards. Scoring nine nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Spielberg, it took home five Oscars in total. From top to bottom, this is what I think of when I think of Indiana Jones.

How do you rank the Indiana Jones films? Let us know!


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Robert Hamer
5 months ago

To me, the most worthwhile reason to watch Temple of Doom is seeing the result of a strong-willed screenwriting team trying to make a nasty B-movie shocker and a strong-willed director trying to make an even peppier throwback to cheesy 1930’s adventure serials, and neither of them quite getting what they wanted.

Remember when people were totally thrown off by Zack Snyder‘s grimdark tone clashing with Joss Whedon‘s glib humor in the theatrical cut of Justice League? That looks almost like a singular, perfectly controlled vision relative to the wild swings Temple of Doom throws. I personally hate it… but also kind of miss movies like it, too?



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