Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

1981, Lucasfilm Ltd.

The pairing of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who basically just updated the Saturday matinee action-adventure-cliffhanger serial genre, created box office gold, earning nearly $400 million against a budget of only $18 million, in the process launching a successful franchise as well as inspiring endless copycats. It was also critically acclaimed, winning four of nine Academy Award nominations. And it cemented Harrison Ford's reputation as the prototype action-adventure hero.

       

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

1984, Lucasfilm Ltd.

Curiously, this entry in the franchise is a prequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark so that Lucas could avoid relying on Nazis as baddies. It also raised quite a stir with its portrayal of India and Hinduism, and its violence gave rise to the PG-13 film rating. Although cut from the same cloth as before, it suffers for being a much darker hue.

       

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Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1989, Lucasfilm Ltd.

Bouncing back from the Temple of Doom, Crusade taps Sean Connery for a re-infusion of humor in the second sequel (first chronologically), even if some of the action is a tad goofy.

       

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Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2008, Lucasfilm Ltd.

With nearly 20 years to come up with something fresh, Spielberg and Lucas seemed content to do more of the same; while more of the same is not necessarily a bad thing, in this case it just comes off as stale and lazy. Shia LaBeouf didn't help matters, nor did a surfeit of CGI effects in lieu of genuine action for the wow factor. But Harrison, while getting a bit long in the tooth for this genre, still does his best to charm.

   

   

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