Alex E’s review published on Letterboxd:
Alex E's Indiana Jones Marathon #1
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
"You're not the man I knew ten years ago."
"It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage."
Going into the 1980s, the best decade of Movies ever in my opinion, Steven Spielberg was becoming one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation thanks to 1975's Jaws, meanwhile George Lucas was hot off 1977's Star Wars. Luckily for us George and Steven are good pals and in 1981, they teamed up to bring us the greatest Action / Adventure movie of all time which was designed to pay homage to the adventure serials that Lucas and Speilberg loved when they were younger.
So with Harrison Ford casted as the main player alongside Speilberg's direction, Lucas producing and a great script by Lawrence Kasdan who handled many great Star Wars scripts, we got Raiders of the Lost Ark, I saw a IMDb review saying there will never be another film like Raiders, and that is spot on.
In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
How to open, well with the opening, it is one of the greatest openings of all time to a movie, we see Indy trying to obtain an artifact but things go awry, it is a great set up which allows us to get into this world of adventure, this really did lay the groundwork for the entire movie.
Harrison Ford was born to play Indiana Jones, he is outstanding in the role and this is really his movie, I think of Harrison more as Indy instead of Han, sure Han is cocky and cool but Indy feels more fleshed out. Also his quips are great, how he charms the girls like Marion (Karen Allen), and the way he goes about his business is just fantastic, you really side with Indy, I also think Ford is more invested in the Indiana Jones role compared to Han Solo, I know so.
Karen Allen is stunning and gorgeous as Marion, I also like how she can take care of herself in situations and with her rebellious attitude, you do side with her when we get to the middle act of the film, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah is loveable and is a nice little character, the villians are a bit over the top but it's fun, Belloq played by Paul Freeman is a good companion piece to Indiana. Both are archaeologist's but have different goals and serves as a perfect antagonist to our hero, I do like how Ronald Lacey plays Toht who is absolutely an insane Nazi, it's great.
The writing is brillant and the direction is superb by Kasdan and Speilberg, what makes Raiders the best in the series for me is the balance between the story and the action. I like how simple yet effective the story is but the action is just fantastic, so many great set pieces done here, the third act has some of the best action and chase scenes ever put to screen.
What makes Raiders stand out is it is just iconic, it's a perfect film and the cinemotographer Douglas Slocombe (R.I.P.) makes Raider's visuals look absolutley beautiful. Every shot just feels iconic, while many may prefer Crusade for it's Father / Son dynamic and the fact it feels more polished, it just can't beat Raiders in my eyes, sure a few things feel rough around the edges but that is what I like about it, also it has such a brisk pace when compared to Crusade. This is where Speilberg shines and I think this is his best movie in my opinion.
John Williams, you know what I am going to say about his score aren't you? He produces one of his best scores for a film here, the main Indiana Jones theme is probably in the Movie Scores Hall of Fame if there is one. The way this movie is scored is fantastic and really does get you into the movie and hooks you with every scene.
While you could say Indiana doesn't affect the plot much (He does, he fights Nazi's and it's awesome.), I do not care, without Indy this movie wouldn't have worked, it's one of the best Summer Blockbusters ever created, it's a perfect film, the ulimate Adventure film with one of the best heroes ever put to screen and spawned a franchise that I love dearly, Raiders is a masterpiece and no other Adventure films even come close. Raiders will never tire for me and I find it to be a flawless in every way possible, my Top 5 Favourite Movies of All Time consist of movies I consider perfect and flawless and this is one of them, 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark is nothing short of astounding.