Raiders of the Lost Ark Retro Talk; Grade: B+
Welcome to another edition of Retro Talk!! It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, there hasn’t been much old movies playing near me in theaters that I wanted to see. We’ll be talking about a film that is celebrating their 40th anniversary: Raiders of the Lost Ark! Truth be told: I’ve never seen this film in my entire life, although I’ve seen an Indiana Jones movie once and it was the last one... Forgive me, I was young back then.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was released on June 12th 1981, was made on a 20 million dollar budget. The film went on to make 389.9 million dollars, profiting almost 370 million... Not a bad investment I must say! Raiders of the Lost Ark we’re loved by critics and audiences, as it perhaps is a well known classic to this day, I mean we’re celebrating it 40 years later! Not only did Raiders of the Lost Ark received financial success and well received success, it also received success during award season as well! It was nominated for 8 Oscars, including Best Picture! Raiders of the Lost Ark went on to win 4 Oscars, as the film also received a Special Achievement Award for Sound Effects Editing.
Raiders of the Lost Ark introduces an archeologist and explorer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford)! Indiana Jones is about that action right from the gecko, going through some dangerous booby traps to secure an ancient artifact. As Indiana Jones returns back home to teach a class, the government alerts him of a very important mission at hand. The government wants to hire Indiana Jones, to find an artifact known as The Ark of the Covenant, which is located in Cairo. They believe The Ark of the Covenant holds tremendous powers, as they want Indiana Jones to find and secure it before Hitler and the Nazi’s find it themselves to obtain it’s powers. Jones will be going through some very difficult situations, in order to secure this Ark of the Covenant. But fortunately for Jones, he’ll find some friends along the way to help him, so he’s not alone in this ordeal!
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a visually stunning film, that still upholds to today. The shot that strikes me the most, was certainly when the characters were up on a roof top, as the sky was all dark looking like it was about to cast some thunder storms, looked extremely beautiful. I love how the way the film looked visually, compliments the dirt and grit of Indiana Jones partaking in these adventures in this desert like atmosphere.
Followed by a fabulous score by John Williams, as I throughly understand why it’s iconic to this day. It’s a fun and riveting score, that gets you excited in adventurous action like sequences. The Costume design t’was solid, I really dig the whole Indiana Jones fit, I can see why that hat is kind of a trademark at this point, especially the hat.
The performances were all pretty good as a whole. Harrison Ford was pretty damn good as Indiana Jones, that serves that intelligent yet swag persona much needed for this character, making him an exciting protagonist that ended up started up a franchise. Karen Allen as Marion was pretty good as well, as she played a wonderful side kick with Indiana Jones. One standout flaw with this character, perhaps was trying to trick a villain mastermind with a drinking game... Not sure why she should even attempt that?! Sure she can pull it off if it was a regular person at the bar, like she swindled a lot of cash against her opponent earlier. But in this case dealing with the level of intelligence these guys are on, which earlier he sabotage Indiana Jones’ prized artifact, I’m not sure why she would try to do this trick?! Felt very silly and just plain stupid.
The antagonists of this film were cool, both played by Paul Freeman and Ronald Lacey which both played pretty good performances. I don’t know why, but the entire time watching Ronald Lacey, kept thinking of a villain in HellBoy... I mean one of the villains were Nazi’s in HellBoy so I guess it makes sense. They basically play in that role of self greed such as power and money that’s why they’re perhaps evil as well as being Nazi’s, while Jones is in it to protect and honor history.
Other than Marion trying to trick one of the villains, I do have a couple other flaws to point out. I do believe some of the choreography in some action sequences, were poorly done. I understand the whole “It was made back in the 80’s” argument, as action back then is nowhere as advanced as today’s action in terms of choreography. However it’s hard to excuse it when not only other films of this era and even films released earlier, have much better choreography than this film does. I mean some action sequences, you can clearly see some characters clearly missing punches point blank, so it was a bit distracting and poorly done at times. One sequence in the third act doesn’t make much sense, it could be that I missed something maybe, but for now I’m trying to puzzle how one just surrendered randomly without it being shown. There were a few poor editing choices here and there, as you would want scenes to play out instead of being throughly rushed.
I can see the whole appeal of Indiana Jones with this film, that I didn’t quite understand with The Kingdom of Skull. I mean Indiana Jones is an extremely cool dude, that is down for adventure whether or not he may not make it out alive... It’s what people thrive for in a person and most certainly an action hero. I wouldn’t consider it as a classic in my own standards, however I did throughly enjoyed this film.
The story itself though at times can sense a drag here and there, however still managed to be throughly exciting. There is a solid amount of adrenaline in this film, as witnessing Indiana Jones in these many situations including the stakes of securing the artifacts, the car chase sequences, or chasing down one whom had Jones’ side kick was all very fun. My favorite action sequence is tied between the whole car chase sequence and the Ark of the Covenant sequence, where Jones is encountered by many snakes... Very cool stuff. I think people are surprised I didn’t mention the opening sequence, which of course is a strong sequence to start off your film, which one can say is a perfect way to start your action/adventure film. I guess I’ve seen it quite many times, that have been spoofed by the likes of Family Guy, so it doesn’t appear that special... The thing I’m starting to notice as I watch a lot more films, is how Family Guy just rips off every damn film. Like I seen a few scenes in this film, that were clearly used in a few Family Guy episodes.
I was surprised by the usage of blood and violence in this film, like I didn’t expect to see so much brutal sequences which resulted in a lot of blood. Of course I don’t mind it all, I prefer it actually even as a kid, however I was thinking this be more kid friendly so it was a bit of a surprise, all were fairly done by the way. I also really enjoy how this film tends to be lenient on shadows, like seeing Indiana Jones shadow in a couple sequences were so cool. The finale was honestly... A bit of a surprise. I mean the effects done in the finale were just outstanding, it does live up to that Oscar Winning Visual Effects Award most certainly, as it still holds up extremely well 40 years later. Raiders of the Lost Ark makes a lot of sense, why this film eventually made a few more sequels... You got a character that is exciting that has a cool persona and it’s filled with a whole lot of exciting adventure, what more could you ask for?!
Overall, Raiders of the Lost Ark was a pretty good film. I recommend checking this one out, if you haven’t done so already... Ya never know: There could be more like me out there. I’m happy I got to have my first experience with this film in a theater, even more so got the theater all to myself... I maybe made fun of for not watching this film sooner, however I get the last laugh having a theatrical experience all to myself as a first, Da Don never takes a L. -Mitch Smietana