Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. has been an American staple since 1981, though fans may know him better as Indiana Jones. Super director Steven Spielberg gave us Harrison Ford as Indiana, but he was brought to life by none other than Star Wars creator George Lucas. So far, we have been gifted with four Indiana Jones movies (as well as a TV series) that have grossed nearly $2 billion. All that is fine and dandy but which one is the best? Which one is the worst?
Here’s the answer, every Indiana Jones movie ranked from best to worst.
1. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.95/10
Moviegoers were introduced to Indiana Jones movies almost 40 years ago with Raiders of the Lost Ark, and this one is the best of the bunch (though not by much). Creator George Lucas first had the idea of Jones back in the early ‘70s but instead went on to concentrate on Star Wars (can’t blame him there) and put Raiders on the shelf. Thankfully he came back to it, teaming up with Steven Spielberg in telling the story of a famed archeologist who would trot the globe looking for rare artifacts.
In this initial story, Indiana Jones was on the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant, which is said to make armies invincible. Ford teams up with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), a former lover, to help stop his rival Dr. René Belloq (Paul Freeman) from getting the relic first which he plans to give to the Nazis. The movie is everything Spielberg, Lucas, Ford, could have hoped for: offering thrills, chills, and romance. Raiders was an exhilarating beginning to the franchise and very worthy of its number one ranking.
2. INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE (1989)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.5/10
It would be easy to see this third Indiana Jones movie settle into the number one slot. The Last Crusade had a fun beginning, bringing a young Indiana Jones into the fold as it told fans just how “Junior” became Indiana Jones. It showed how he got his famous Fedora and also told us how his fear of snakes transpired. This was also the introduction of his father, Henry Jones Sr., played to perfection by the late Sean Connery. When both legends (Ford and Connery) are on screen, this Indiana Jones movie is a classic.
This installment finds our archeologist hero in search of the Holy Grail and his father, who has been kidnapped by those pesky Nazis. Last Crusade is immediately fun with the young Indy, transitions well into the current Indy, and has a fun time putting Ford and Connery on screen together. Spielberg purposely went a little more light-hearted for this entry based on some reviews of Temple of Doom and it worked. The movie was well-received, and thoughts were that a fourth movie would follow shortly. Unfortunately for Indiana Jones fans, they would have to wait almost twenty years for that movie.
3. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 8.0/10
Temple of Doom was the second movie in the Indiana Jones movie franchise and was by far the darkest. It held the same Indiana Jones motif, but the theme was vastly different and much scarier as it included child slavery, black magic, and human sacrifice all revolving around a religious cult. Lucas and Spielberg bounced around several ideas before settling on this darker version, one that was met with mixed reviews. Not that the movie was bad at all. In fact, it was quite good, but it was geared more toward an older age group.
Indiana Jones 2 is set in an earlier time frame than Raiders because Spielberg didn’t want Nazis to be the villains. This time Indy isn’t in search of something rather finding himself having to fight a cult and save the children from slavery. The film has such dark images and sequences that after it was released, garnering a PG rating, a PG-13 rating was created based on this movie. Scares aside, it was a great movie.
4. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (2008)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: 6.95/10
Fans waited almost 20 years for this Indiana Jones movie. What looked to be a great addition and well worth the long delay ultimately let many down. In Kingdom of the Crystal Skull we find Indiana Jones 19-years after he had his “last crusade” with his father. Indy is living a quieter life when he is thrust back into action after being kidnapped by Irina Spalko, the big baddie in the film played by Cate Blanchett. He is also introduced to Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf. Williams joins Jones in his quest for the crystal skull and eventually finds out that Williams is actually Henry Jones III, his son.
The film also brings back Allen as Marion Ravenwood, who is Mutt’s mom. It received mixed critical and fan reviews, with many fans simply not liking the alien aspect Spielberg brought to the movie. Bad blood was born after the movie was released as LaBeouf offered his opinion on the movie which didn’t sit well with either Ford or Spielberg. Regardless of the reaction, this Indiana Jones movie did bring in the highest box office of the four films, though it should be noted that the film’s budget of $185 million was ten times the budget of the original Indiana Jones entry.
THE UNTITLED FIFTH MOVIE (2022??)
GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE: Please be better than Crystal Skull
As this article is being written, franchise star Harrison Ford is 78-years young. Filming for an already announced fifth Indiana Jones movie has not even begun. This possible fifth movie has been in development hell for years with producers and Spielberg unable to crack the nut on the story. The delay was so long that Spielberg finally stepped away from directing stating that it was time to hand off the series to a younger voice. He does plan on sticking around as one of the film’s executive producers.
The script has gone through several hands, beginning with David Koepp, then Jonathan Kasdan, then Dan Fogelman, eventually coming back to Kasdan. James Mangold (Cop Land, Logan) was brought on to replace Spielberg. Filming was expected to begin in 2020 but COVID decided it wouldn’t allow it. At the moment the film has a release date of July 29, 2022, which will put Ford at 80-years old, if the film holds that date. He will be 79 when filming begins so one wonders just how active Indy will be in this film. Still, looking forward to it.
The GIANT FREAKIN MOVIE SCORE is calculated using rating averages from Rotten Tomatoes and the Internet Movie Database.