Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reviewed on 2008 May 28
The first (and best) of the Indiana Jones movies. It’s rare that a director has the guts (or lunacy) to kill off a hero, but when I saw this thing for the first time as a kid, I was actually wondering a time or two how Indy would make it.
Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. (Harrison Ford) is an archeologist with a hatred of snakes, Nazis (arguably the same thing) and his smug, amoral French rival, Dr. Rene Beloq (Paul Freeman). Beloq likes wearing improbably white suits and stealing artifacts out from under Indy’s nose, so we’re sympathetic to the bomber-jacketed Indy from the opening reel. Indy is trying to retrieve a South American idol from Beloq, when he is sidetracked by news of a massive Nazi dig in Egypt. They've possibly located the Ark of the Covenant, and Indy needs to get it first. It’s 1936 and this would be an awful weapon in Axis hands.
I liked everything about this: the pace, a couple bits of skillful misdirection, and the acting. I now can’t imagine anyone else but Ford playing Indy. There are also some very funny bits. The scene when he first reunited with Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) is classic. The special effects are good too, just like you’d expect from a Spielberg/Lucas film.
Four chocolate morsels.