Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

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Famed archaeologist/adventurer Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls. (IMDb)
A classic straightaway action sequence is followed by a great plot set-up that introduces an enjoyable new sidekick (LaBeouf’s greaser) while offering some rambunctious initial fun (see the bar escape; motorcycle chase; Ford’s library one-liner) in a glossed-up 50s Americana setting. The adventure only gets amped up from there, but obvious CGI often brings it down (see the jungle sequence), and the increasingly ridiculous sci-fi plot certainly doesn’t help matters. Still an entertaining watch.
7/10 (Good)

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983)

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After rescuing Han Solo from the palace of Jabba the Hutt, the rebels attempt to destroy the second Death Star, while Luke struggles to make Vader return from the dark side of the Force. (IMDb)

A rambunctiously fun reunion and escape sequence starts things off well, but the fresh forest setting of Endor to follow brings with it some bad green-screened flying scenes (but a decent battle later), a campy captured-by-natives tangent (the Ewoks do have their charm though), and consistently wooden dialogue. Luke’s climactic confrontation with Vader and the Emperor, meanwhile, is overly simplistic and repetitive (“Join the dark side, feel the hate”; “No, I won’t fight”; fight, stop, etc.).

6.4/10

#4 on my Top 10 Most Overrated Films list

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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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.

7.0/10

#6 on my Top 10 Most Overrated Films list

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

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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).

7.7/10

The Age of Adaline (2015)

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A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After many solitary years, she meets a man who complicates the eternal life she has settled into. (IMDb)

The narration that bookends the film gives it a cozy, fairy-tale feel (although the science is a bit much) with Adaline–an ancient woman in a young body, played to refined perfection by Lively–a fitting protagonist: Eternally beautiful and wise, yet sad and lonely. The logistics of her long life are breezed over, but the relational implications are richly explored, most notably in the striking third act as her secret is revealed to both a past and a present lover in whirlwind of emotions.

7.2/10

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

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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.

8.1/10

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

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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).

8.0/10