Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark ★★★★★

Of course this is a film I have seen plenty of times in my life. I am lucky in that I got to see them (as in, the Indy movies they made in the 80's. I know some who act like Crystal Skull never happened, which I guess is understandable) on VHS as a kid. I even saw this theatrically at revival screenings, including back in 2011 when it played for a week in IMAX. A few days ago I purchased all four movies on Blu from Amazon... it was a region-free Blu and the price was less than 20 bucks, so I couldn't turn that down. As in the past few years I've written nice reviews for The Last Crusade and Crystal Skull, I figured it was time to do the same for the first two ones.

This is a motion picture I always recognized as being awesome, and my opinion hasn't changed. This is a great, great film. Lucas and Spielberg were inspired by the movie serials of old which were over the top but they were a blast to watch, so they created a dashing hero, an archaeologist who in his time off from being a college professor goes across the world looking for rare and expensive treasures. Of course it's far more glamorous than what a real archaeologist does, but who cares? It's set in the appropriate time period of the late 1930's and the villains were perfect for the time period... the Nazi party. No matter what you think of religion, the Ark of the Covenant was an exotic prize to have and it certainly provided an exciting and unforgettable ending.

Harrison Ford was perfect as Indy, as was Karen Allen as his badass companion Marion Ravenwood. Paul Freeman and Ronald Lacey were top-notch as the main detestable heels. It was great direction from Spielberg, a memorable script that took the characters across the world, and a classic score from the incomparable John Williams. I also have to give high marks to the sound design; it's probably not appreciated enough how tremendous such effects as punches and gunshots sound. They are so intense and impactful. It is easy to overlook at in the grand scheme of things and you have such details as what I said above or astonishing action setpieces that are still effective today, perhaps because they were all done practically and aren't phony CGI... or the dumb luck that sometimes happened and made things better, such as Ford eating something bad and was just about incapacitated, thus the legendary moment where Dr. Jones goes "The hell with this" and shoots that swordsman.

I have a pair of twin nephews who will turn 4 in about a month's time. I am glad that among the drivel they watch on cable they also sometimes watch classic films like the original Star Wars movies or the Indiana Jones franchise... and they actually love them. I feel like a proud uncle during those moments. Movies like Raiders are so stupendous at providing top-notch entertainment, I can happily predict that when my nephews have kids a few decades down the road, those progeny will also watch and love this.

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