Raiders of the Lost Ark is a classic action/adventure film originally released in 1981 and is the first film in the Indiana Jones franchise. With the story created by George Lucas (best known for Star Wars) and directed by Steven Spielberg (best known for JAWS, E.T., and many more), there was never a doubt that Raiders of the Lost Ark would be a hit.
Taking place in 1936, the film follows the attractive and cunning hero Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), a respected adventurer and archaeologist. As no stranger to peril, Indiana Jones is tasked with an almost insurmountable task; recovering an ancient artifact before the Nazis get their hands on it. As one of the world’s most evil forces attempt to use the artifact for death and destruction, only the heroic Indiana Jones stands in their way.
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The Movie Review
The movie picks up with our protagonist attempting to retrieve an ancient relic in Peru. Despite his exceptional skill in navigating the dangerous, booby-trapped temple, Indiana is thwarted at the exit and has the relic stolen by his nemesis, Belloq (Paul Freeman). Disappointed in the outcome of his adventure, Indiana heads back home to the United States and resumes work as a professor of archaeology. There, he is approached by two secretive government agents who inquire about the location of Indiana’s mentor, Ravenwood.
Unwilling to give up his friend, the government agents inform Indiana of the severity of the problem. Out in the deserts of Egypt, a group of Nazis have seemingly uncovered the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. Rumored to hold the original copy of the Ten Commandments, the Ark is an artifact with unknowable supernatural power. Intending to use this power against their enemies in war, the Nazis have gotten closer to finding the Ark than anyone before them. Eager to outwit the Nazis, Indiana Jones gears up and heads for Egypt.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is packed with excellent characters, amazing action, and plenty of awesome practical effects. Indiana doesn’t go on his journey solo, as he stops by Nepal on his way to Egypt to pick up Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the daughter of his mentor and an old friend. Unfortunately, before they are able to leave, a torture-loving, bespeckled Nazi commander named Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey) attempts to stop them.
Barely fleeing with their life, Indiana and Marion team up for the rest of the adventure. The group also picks up Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), an Egyptian excavator and Indiana’s longtime friend. Together, the team attempt to locate the Ark’s hidden location, deep in a tomb known as the Well of Souls.
Indiana’s adventure to recover the Ark of the Covenant is tons of fun, surprisingly violent, and packed with witty dialogue and characters. Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, and the rest of the heroic cast do a great job inhabiting these larger-than-life roles with ease. Likewise, Ronald Lacey plays a fiercely intimidating and frightening Nazi officer in his role as Arnold Toht, providing an excellent additional antagonistic force.
Although a chunk of the movie is heavy on dialogue and setting the foundation for the characters, there’s a heaping helping of invigorating action. Apart from a handful of out-of-date “special effects” shots, the action is uproarious and exciting, thanks to some hefty explosions and impressive practical effects. While it might not be the best movie in the Indiana Jones series, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most effective and enjoyable action films of all-time.
- Great performances from the entire cast
- Awesome practical effects
- An interesting mystery with tons of adventure
- Some special effects are painfully outdated
- Too violent for young kids, despite the rating
- Some characters are pushed to the sidelines