Thoughts: Raiders of the Lost Ark, also known as, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, is the definition of the perfect action adventure film.
As anyone reading this blog should know, I love the Indiana Jones trilogy and I have been a fan for as long as I can remember. It was created by two of the greatest film makers of all-time, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (before Indy 4). Raiders of the Lost Ark is inspired by weekly serials of the 30s and 40s that would be played before movies. However, Raiders of the Lost Ark's concept is one of the most original ever conceived. Never before or since has any movie been able to emulate the tone of the film, there is nothing that even compares. Everything is spot on perfect in the film, from the pacing to the acting to the action, it is nearly flawless. Raiders of the Lost Ark contains possibly the greatest opening scene of all-time with the iconic "Boulder Chase" scene. That scene perfectly sets the tone of the entire film, full of adventure and escapism and the scene introduces the character Indiana Jones perfectly. From his iconic hat to his bull whip, Harrison Ford was Indiana Jones. In a way, he had the scruffy Han Solo type personality yet less scoundrel like and overall very unique. Basically, Indiana Jones was the first action hero outside of Robin Hood and westerns heroes. Unlike many of his counter parts, he was very human and fought dirty. The main love interest, Marion Ravenwood, was a great character. She had an almost Princess Leia type personality to her character except rougher. Undoubtedly Jones' best love interest and one of my favorite characters from the franchise. The romance in the movie is one of the most well done romances in any movie, it really does not make the film drag, especially for the guy audience, and it is hilarious at times. Another groundbreaking aspect of Raiders of the Lost Ark was the action, only Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back had its quality and level of action but more on the action later. It made archaeology fun and exciting to watch, which might sound absurd but it works so well.
Note: The following will contain spoilers, however if you are one of the very few people who have not seen this movie, continue below the "Thoughts" section of this review to the "The Good" ect. part of the review for completely spoiler free.
The central plot point is the discovery and obtaining of the Ark of the Covenant. The only very minor flaw in the film is the handling of the Ark. Since the Ark of the Covenant is a real object with the power of God, no one can actually touch the Ark without suffering instant death, however in the movie a few of the character actually touch the ark and other aspects of the Ark were unrealistic. But other than that, it is basically flawless. Raiders of the Lost Ark is very loosely influenced by the real fact that Adolf Hitler did have a special division to search for holy relics like Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail during World War II.
Now who can forget the iconic opening boulder chase scene, possibly the best opening scene for a movie in film history. Also it is one of the best introductions to a character in film.
Of all the Indiana Jones films, Raiders of the Lost Ark is probably the most realistic in terms of stunts and believability, yet has the best action in the series by far. With the opening of the Ark, Raiders seamlessly adds a fantasy movie type spin to the film, which is unexpected if you have not seen the movie before, but it works without feeling at all out of place. Another fascinating fact is that Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated for nine Academy Awards in 1982, including Best Picture, which is a rare feat for an action, and won four (Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects) as well as winning a fifth Special Achievement Academy Award in Sound Effects Editing. This shows that even the Academy saw the brilliance of the film.
There is a surprising amount of emotion weight in the film, especially after *Major Spoiler* Marion's assumed death. *End of Spoiler* Ford's performance genuinely conveys his character emotional attachment to Marion and for a first time viewer this is a shocking plot twist.
While the movie does have a lot of action scenes throughout the film, there is always enough breathing room between action scenes to develop the characters and progress the plot with sharp, often humorous dialogue. Also there is a surprising amount of suspense throughout the film during the action scenes that you rarely feel in other action films.
Another truly brilliant scene is the Indy vs. Swordsman scene. Even now there are far too many times in movies were the character should have just shot the opponent and not have a pointless fist fight but in Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana just shot the sucker.
Directed by: Steven Spielberg.
Genre: Action Adventure, Action, Fantasy,
Release date: June 12, 1981 (1981-06-12)
Running Time: 115mins
MMPA rating: PG
The Good: Everything, Amazing action set pieces throughout, Original concept, One of the best scores ever composed, Perfect pacing, Best opening scene ever, Star Wars reference, Incredible chase scene, Perfect use of humor, Excellent directing, Outrageously entertaining,
Plot: The following plot summary is copied from Wikipedia.com.
In the Peruvian jungle, in 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient temple filled with booby traps to retrieve a golden idol. Upon fleeing the temple, Indiana is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovitos. Surrounded and outnumbered, Indiana is forced to surrender the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting Waco seaplane.
Shortly after returning to the college in the United States where he teaches archeology, Indiana is interviewed by two Army intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, in their quest for occult power, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood, who is in possession of the headpiece of an artifact called the Staff of Ra and is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis. Indiana deduces that the Nazis are searching for Tanis because it is believed to be the location of the Ark of the Covenant, the biblical chest built by the Israelites to contain the fragments of the Ten Commandments; if the Nazis acquire it, their armies will be invincible. The Staff of Ra, meanwhile, is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried. The agents subsequently authorize Indiana to recover the Ark with the promise of displaying it in a museum. Indiana travels to Nepal, only to find that Ravenwood has died and that the headpiece is in the possession of his daughter, Marion, Indiana's embittered former lover. Indiana offers to buy the headpiece for three thousand dollars, plus two thousand more when they return to the United States. Marion's tavern is suddenly raided by a group of thugs commanded by Nazi agent Major Toht. The tavern is burned down in the ensuing fight, during which Toht burns his hand on the searing hot headpiece as he tries to grab it. Indiana and Marion escape with the headpiece, with Marion declaring she will accompany Indiana in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt.
Watch the movie to see what happens next.
Plot: 10/10- One of the most well executed and original ideas ever put to screen with the perfect balance of action and story. The dialogue is sharp, well written, and witty, delivered expertly by the great cast. While Raiders of the Lost Ark is action packed, it never sacrifices plot for action scenes. The pacing is spot on throughout, and the characters are well developed.
Action: 10/10- Spielberg is one of the best at filming action scenes, and puts most modern directors to shame with his perfectly framed action scenes. It proves that action dies have to be flashy to be well choreographed and impressive. Featuring many of the greatest action set pieces ever filmed. The final chase for the Ark is possibly the best chase scene ever filmed, the stunt work in that scene is amazing, and especially considering that it was made before CGI. There is a ridiculous amount of memorable action scenes throughout the movie that is only rivaled by The Avengers.
Acting: 10/10- Harrison Ford gives one of his many fantastic performance and he completely owns the character of Indiana Jones, he is Indiana Jones. Karen Allen as Marion had great on screen chemistry with Ford, which made them a believable couple. John Rhys-Davies, who would later play Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, played Sallah, a very likable side kick type character to Indiana. His performance was very good as well. The entire cast gave top notch performances throughout the film.
Special effects: 9.2/10- While there is only one true effect shot in the whole film, which occurs near the end of the film. The stunt work and the opening boulder chase scene in incredible, easily better than many CGI enhanced stunts film today. On a side note, the cinematography was excellent, featuring Lawrence of Arabia type cinematography.
Soundtrack: 10/10- Easily the second best soundtrack of all-time, John Williams' masterpiece of music, only Star Wars has a better score. From the iconic adventure theme to the eerie track of the discovery of the Ark, the score masterfully sets the perfect tone throughout. It evokes the correct the emotion and atmosphere perfectly throughout the film, it is hard to imagine what the film would be like if Williams' music was not present.
Comedy: 9.3/10- There were many humorous lines throughout the film, mostly through the well written dialogue. However, it is definitely not an action comedy, although the humor never feels out of place.
Would I Watch This Again: Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of those movies that I just over and over again without getting bored. It is one of the classics that succeeds in every aspect, and there is never a dull moment. I have seen it at least 15 or more times.
Overall: 10/10- Overall Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best films ever made, nearly flawless in every aspect, packed with action, adventure story and all around entertainment. It is one of the most influential films ever made, very few action movies today even compare.
Closing comments: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is an absolute must see film; it is pure entertainment and excellent film making.
Recommended for: Anyone, Action fans, Action Adventure fans, Harrison Ford fans, Fantasy fans, Adventure fans, Film fans, Steven Spielberg fans,
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