Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark ★★★★

Indiana Jones is an experience that envelopes you every time you watch it. It's a fascinating piece of adventure fantasy that makes you want to search for buried treasure and kick some Nazi butt. There is no question that Spielberg landed a winner here, but I also have some caveats to my praise this time around. When I first saw this I would have said it was flawless, but I also was a teenager when I first saw it. Even then, I thought it was an inferior product in comparison to The Last Crusade, which I saw first. This time around the music, set-pieces, costuming, and tension-building still got me, but the issues with the film were just so much more apparent. That scene before Indy gets to the ruins is absolutely obnoxious, and that may be because it's been parodied so many times or because it legitimately is bad, I'm not sure. This cheesiness follows the movie around and you really have to suspend belief and even thinking about how the world around Indy works or it breaks the illusion. That's not the mark of a great world-build, which is really sad because what they do present is so incredibly cool! Even if it was on purpose, the rest of the film has such great dynamism, it just feels out of place to add that in.

I guess I would be remiss in not talking about the dynamics in the film that drive it and make it more than just an amazing adventure. Dr. Jones is a skeptic that doesn't believe in deity or the mythical, and by the end of the film he is required to yield his own philosophies to a fantastical experience with no other explanation than something he doesn't believe in. His existential crisis isn't really dwelled on in the film, but there is still commentary about it in the final scene with the warehouse. Moral truth, higher power, and miracles are not something the masses want to know about and have to be accountable to, so it's much easier to lock and file them away into obscurity so we don't have to deal with the ramifications of that knowledge. It makes life a lot simpler, though I personally think there are unforeseen consequences that result, being that I myself am a Christian.

Loved the Clark Kent/Superman kind of dynamic they gave the Indy character, and I also loved the touch of adding the Pillar of Fire during the Ark of the Covenant sequence. Speaking of which, there are SO many iconic and amazing scenes in this movie, my favorite of which may be tied between the map room or the melting faces practical effects scene. Also love the bar scene a lot, and the boa coming out of the skull is just amazing style to stick into the film. With my rating being as low as it is (even though I loved it) I'm going to have to re-evaluate whether or not this is my favorite film still from 1981, or if that honor should go to Scanners, which I also love. Hmm, maybe not, the iconic scenes here trump everything Scanners has to offer, even if I think it has a tighter script. Either way, can't wait to rewatch this series, even the one with the monkeys and the nuked fridge.

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