The Magnificent Hundo: Taking a Trip Through IMDB’s Top Movies
Ah, IMDB. The movie lover’s Shangri-La. Or, a convenient place to find out just which episode of the X-Files this guy from Supernatural guest starred on over a decade ago (Just me? Okay, fine.). Whatever your reason for visiting IMDB, be it news, videos, or just cast lists, the one thing that you simply cannot avoid is the IMDB top 250. The site’s ratings are listed as one of the very first things you see when you view a page for a movie.
The IMDB 250 allows site users to give ratings to their favorite (and not so favorite) films, and generates a ranking of these films. You may have seen it, hell you may have voted on a film that’s on the list.
My goal is to watch the top one hundred films on the list and document my thoughts on them – including why they are in the position that they hold. This task began in the summer of 2012, watching one movie a week with a group of friends. Following the movie we score the film to see where it ranks on our list compared to IMDB’s. Our findings so far? Well, we don’t always agree with the IMDB users, to put it bluntly. I will not be giving these films a rating (but may disclose my group’s adjusted list once this experiment is complete), but rather I want to simply look at the movies and discuss why they are on the list and where.
Why just the top one hundred instead of tackling the whole IMDB Top 250? Well, that’s a lot of movies, and as it stands, this will take a long time. One more note: this list was locked on July 28, 2012. What this means is that several movies are going to move around in position during the duration of this project. Movies like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers will likely end up lower on the Top 250 by the time I reach the end of the top one hundred simply because the zeitgeist surrounding them during the summer of 2012 would have died out a bit.
100. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (IMDB rating 8.3)
You’d think that one of the “good” Indiana Jones flicks would be deserving of being on any list of great films. I don’t necessarily think that Last Crusade is a bad movie, but I’ve got to admit that it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as the first two films in the esteemed series. It feels strangely toothless compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark and Temple of Doom. It’s Steven Spielberg at his most popcorn-y. The problems with the film begin in the first few minutes: young Indiana Jones (played by River Phoenix, just in case you weren’t sure how dated the film is) tries to prevent robbers from lifting Coronado’s cross from a cave. Insisting that the Cross belongs in a museum (Sound familiar?), Indy takes the artifact and is chased across the countryside by the fedora-ed bad guy. It’s a cute little sequence but goofy in it’s insistence that every Indiana Jones character trait was borne from this little adventure (the whip, fear of snakes, a bad guy in white, the fedora–all introduced here). It’s silly to say the least. But, the goofy humor doesn’t stop there, it’s littered throughout the movie. However, some of the humor is decent in a traditional Indiana Jones way, like the interplay between Indy and his father.
Speaking of Henry Jones Sr., the Harrison Ford/Sean Connery team-up manages to be the film’s strongest asset (even if the twelve year age gap between the two actors is kind of laughable for this father/son story). The only problem is that Connery doesn’t show up until nearly fifty minutes into the movie’s running time.
Most of the time spent in the movie sees the doctors Jones lurching from one madcap adventure to the next; so much so that it doesn’t really have a plot but rather a series of escalating set pieces. Think about it for a second … yes the movie is about finding the Holy Grail, but when you try to explain the plot you’ll inevitably end up describing action pieces. There’s the zeppelin, the motorcycle sequence, the venice boat chase, the tank, the — I’m sure you get the picture. It’s not that these sequences aren’t fun — they are, to varying degrees — but Last Crusade rarely takes a moment to simply stop unless it’s for a joke or to set up another action sequence.
In the end it’s easy to see why Last Crusade was in the top 100: It’s Indiana Jones! It’s fun! It’s exciting! But, does this film really deserve to be one of the best one hundred films of all time? Not really. It’s a fun diversion, but it’s easy to see many of the problems that would metastasize to ruin the Indiana Jones series in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull begin in earnest here. It’s hard to knock the film too hard, and I still love a good Indiana Jones romp, but in looking at this favorite from my childhood with a critical eye, I just can’t deny that it’s a silly film and probably doesn’t deserve a spot on a top 100 list.
Next time: number 99 — The Sting