After the rebels have been brutally overpowered by the Empire on their newly established base, Luke Skywalker takes advanced Jedi training with Master Yoda, while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke. (IMDb)
Though there are more and better action sequences this time around (and a complimentary slow-paced storyline with the odd couple of Yoda and Luke), most of the characters start to feel a little stale (Han and Leia’s budding romance doesn’t do much to spice things up), Luke and Vader aside, as their passionate natures emerge and converge in their surprisingly personal climactic clash. An early contrivance (see Ben’s ethereal directive to Luke) is made up for by the intriguingly uncertain ending.
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire’s world-destroying battle-station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader. (IMDb)
Dated special effects, occasional over-acting (see Hamill and Fisher), and a cheesy ending are overcome by a classically engaging good vs. evil story set in an imaginative universe that smartly starts in media res and is filled with a colourful and complimentary cast of characters: The angsty young Luke and wise old Obi-Wan; the cocky Han Solo and equally headstrong Leia; the uptight C3PO and brave R2D2 (who, along with the charming Chewbacca are remarkably relatable for being unintelligible).
When Dr. Henry Jones Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father’s footsteps and stop the Nazis. (IMDb)
The Grail-quest plot adds a decent dollop of tempered intrigue to the still stellar fast-paced action antics, giving the film a more mature tone than its wacky and wild predecessor, while the opening glimpse into Indy’s childhood and the introduction of his father (their constant bickering and brains vs. brawn dynamic are hilarious–see Connery’s silent look during their motorcycle escape) add some welcome character depth as well as some great humour that goes beyond just one-liners.
After arriving in India, Indiana Jones is asked by a desperate village to find a mystical stone. He agrees, and stumbles upon a secret cult plotting a terrible plan in the catacombs of an ancient palace. (IMDb)
With the stereotypical exotic Indian locale being milked for all it’s worth, this sequel simultaneously takes turns towards darker (see the horrifying human-sacrificing cult and their child slaves) and funnier (see the outrageous palace meal) material. Capshaw’s distressed diva and Quan’s charming ESL kid sidekick add further humour to a stacked line-up of action sequences in the same vein as its predecessor, making them even more memorable (the secret chamber with spikes scene is a standout).
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis. (IMDb)
With Ford’s idealistic hero Indiana Jones at the helm here comes loads of life-or-death globetrotting adventure-action that’s able to flow smoothly from gun fights in burning-down bars in Nepal to frantic car chases in the deserts of Egypt (only the supernatural-tinged climax feels a little out of place). There’s nothing else terribly compelling here (only a few funny one-liners) but it’s so jam-packed full of exotic excitement (even when you think it’s over) that it doesn’t really matter.