Anthony's Film Review
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg redefine the meaning of the cinematic blockbuster adventure...
Raiders of the Lost Ark is THE reason to go to the movies. Now, don't get me wrong. I love movies that are slow, thoughtful, and dramatic, but when I'm in the mood for excitement, adventure, and good-hearted fun, I turn to movies in other genres, particularly action, that can deliver just that. Often, they're the kind that you would consider to be blockbuster films. Star Wars is a great example of this. So is Raiders of the Lost Ark, which I shall review here.
In the 1930s and 1940s, moviegoers were treated to serial adventure films. It's something that, many years later, filmmaker George Lucas would become fascinated with, enough to want to recreate the excitement of these motion pictures. Following the success of Star Wars, he would team up with another big-name film director, Steven Spielberg, to make this vision a reality. Also around this time, Harrison Ford was becoming a big name actor, a trend that would continue once he signed on for the role of archaeologist Indiana Jones.
To understand the excitement of this movie, all you have to do is watch the first scene. Jones enters a cave where he takes a small idol. This sets off a series of traps, including the famous giant stone ball that rolls towards him. Then there is a daring escape onto an airplane. Afterwards, things are calm as we see Jones teaching an archaeology course at a university. A rather exciting life for an archaeologist, I must say.
Jones soon finds himself on a quest with high stakes. He is to seek the Ark of the Covenant, the artifact that supposedly holds the pieces of the Ten Commandments and contains a power beyond anything imaginable. This is because the Nazis are after it as well. It's a plot that's a lot like something from a James Bond movie: a small request for investigation that sounds harmless at first but thrusts the protagonist into many perilous situations.
Our hero encounters allies and villains alike. On the side of good, we have John Rhys-Davies as the Egyptian man Sallah and Karen Allen as Jones's love interest Marion. As for evildoers, there are plenty of Nazis to contend with. I'll only mention the one who really creeps me out: Ronald Lacey as Gestapo agent Arnold Toht. This guy has such a frightening look on his face that he scares the living daylights out of other characters as well as the audience. He is a great example of a ruthless but unforgettable movie villain.
The action can easily be summed up with one word: top-notch. It's simply an eye-popping thrill ride. Whether Indiana Jones is being dragged by a moving jeep, fighting a brute near airplane propellers, or engaging in a gunfight, you can count on this hero saving the day. Occasionally, there is a bit of humor, particularly in the scene where Jones is facing a sword-wielding foe and decides, instead of using the same weapon, to just kill the guy by shooting him. All of this leads to the heart-stopping climax where the special effects are just incredible.
Once again, it's movies like this that make me want to watch more of them. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a true cinematic adventure, one that could be viewed over and over again. The recognition it has received over the years is quite remarkable. It was nominated for a few Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and listed in a few top movie lists by the American Film Institute. But you know what I think the best part is? The collaboration between George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. When great minds think alike, they can produce something mindblowing, and that's exactly what Raiders of the Lost Ark is. A mindblowing cinematic adventure.
For more information about Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, visit the Internet Movie Database.