BAXTER — Every big-screen action hero needs an origin story and Indiana Jones is no different.
The pistol-shooting, death-defying professor of archeology returns in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and this time the fearless explorer explores his daddy issues. And not just any daddy but one played by Sean Connery, aka “James Bond,” the archetype of manhood.
“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is just one of the latest sequels in blockbuster franchises of years past to return to the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter for a limited return engagement.
Indiana Jones’ name is synonymous with action and adventure, and he first came upon the public’s radar with “Raiders of the Lost Ark” in 1981. The 1989 sequel, which is rated PG-13, marks a return to the formula that made the original so successful — fighting the Nazis.
The biblical-based movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was followed by three more sequels, including “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” in 1984 and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” in 2008. There are even plans for a fourth sequel, to be released in 2022.
Ford and Connery in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” is a Hollywood studio’s dream come true: two of their respective generations’ biggest box office draws joining forces in the 1989 film.
Whereas Ford’s “Junior” — as he is dismissively called by his father — is a fedora-wearing, whip-snapping adventurer, Connery plays a bookish, distant dad trying to connect with his son.
Steven Spielberg, who directed “Jaws,” also directed the Ford-Connery movie based on a screenplay by George Lucas, who is most widely known for the “Star Wars” franchise.
The last crusade-based film opens with a young Indiana Jones on an outing with his Boy Scout troop at Arches National Park in Utah. The 13-year-old stumbles upon grave robbers in a cave.
The boy, played by the late River Phoenix, steals a golden crucifix belonging to Coronado from the looters and hopes to donate it to a museum rather than letting the profiteers keep it.
From there it’s full-steam ahead with an escape on horseback, a car chase, brawls upon a zoo-carrying cargo train and more — and that’s just in the opening scenes of the flashback.
Passionate Indiana Jones fans will delight, however, in the fan-servicing touches in the opening scenes that show the young Jones as resolute and righteous as the man he grows up to be.
The boy falls into a railroad car and encounters a lion, for example, and the inexperienced child reaches in desperation for a whip that he finds. He uses it to tame the lion but not without inflicting upon himself a cut on his chin that Ford has in real life and as the adult Jones.
The child also falls into a pit of snakes that are part of the traveling zoo’s reptile collection while trying to escape his greedy pursuers. In previous installments such as “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” an adult Jones also succinctly utters his disdain for the cold-blooded creatures.
And as the leader of the grave robbers catches up to the boy, and with corrupt local law enforcement at his side, he forces the child to hand over the golden cross; the man is a dead ringer for the adult Jones and he gives the boy his fedora, which Jones has worn ever since.
Fast forward several years and Indiana Jones is recruited to find the Holy Grail and his father, the foremost expert on the elusive treasure that promises life everlasting to its discoverer.
Connery plays the nebbish elder Jones perfectly and as a foil to the globe-trotting Ford who isn’t afraid to let a few bullets and fists fly when faced with adversity.
The Nazis are also looking for the Holy Grail, and the pursuit of the ancient and mythical relic takes both parties through Venice, Italy, and other far-off locations accompanied on the silver screen by a rousing musical score by acclaimed composer John Williams.
One chuckle-worthy scene includes father and son hitching a ride aboard a German blimp and who are about to be discovered. Ford appropriates the uniform of one of the air stewards, surprises the German officer and then throws him out the open window of the moored airship.
When faced with the astonishment of the other passengers, Ford replies, “No ticket!” and the other passengers then frantically look for their tickets to present to the would-be air steward.
Much of the humor comes from the pairing of Ford and Connery as polar opposites and at generational odds, with much of the time Ford exasperatingly yelling, “Dad!” (And in this sequel, audiences finally learn how Indiana Jones got his nickname and what his birth name is.)
But the duo have to work together, especially in the climactic finale that involves a showdown between the forces representing good and evil for the procurement of the Holy Grail, proving once again blood is thicker than (holy) water.
The adventure continues with “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which was released almost two decades later, begins playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter starting Friday, July 31.