Raiders of the Lost Ark is a film of such fun that it’s incredibly hard to dislike it. There’s a lot of action and humor, and everyone involved seems to be having a good time. You’ll simultaneously laugh and feel scared, which is quite the feat. A film that can get your heartbeat up while also making you clutch your stomach from all the laughing you’re doing is definitely a movie that you’re going to want to watch — probably more than once.
The year is 1936. The lead is an archaeologist and professor named Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). The basic idea: Stop the Nazis from getting a magical box called the Ark of the Covenant. Go nuts. That’s the basic idea of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which has its lead go through action scene after action scene, sometimes with others and sometimes alone, all in order to stop the Nazis from gaining a power that could destroy the world. He’s no ordinary archaeologist, of course, as daring adventures are his forte, but it’s still ridiculous when you think of what he goes through on a daily basis.
You’ll be amazed by the sheer amount of places and set pieces that Indiana goes through. There is never a dull moment in the film, which our hero takes in stride. While he doesn’t exactly acknowledge how crazy the few days that we get to see are, I’m sure there was one or two “Oh, not again,” comments scattered throughout. You laugh when you notice that the characters are acknowledging just how silly the things going on around them are. But he never actually stops enjoying himself, which is imperative to a movie like this.
You go in to have fun, and it’s a lot easier for you to have fun if the characters are smiling and enjoying themselves. Ford always has a smile on his face, as do most of the other characters. Even when their lives are on the line, they never stop laughing about the situation. I don’t know how anyone would be able to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and walk away unhappy. It’s an inventive, swashbuckling action movie that will hold your interest throughout.
It’s the opening sequence that really draws us in. It establishes Indiana as an action hero, and it shows us exactly how competent he is at handling everything. He’s smart, as he shows us as he moves around a booby trapped cave, and he’s also in quite the physical shape, proving that as he outruns a massive rock that could crush him if he slows down for even a second. I don’t think the movie ever actually gets better than its opening, but it does have a couple of moments that come close.
The only thing that I didn’t quite like was the ending, which felt far more like a cop out than it should. It made many of the things that the characters did in the movie feel unnecessary and pointless, as if they didn’t need to be there at all and the same conclusion would happen. It’s a cheat, really, and cheapens the experience as a result. The journey to get to this point, while fun, feels like it had no purpose, because the lead characters don’t even factor into the finale that heavily.
That is, however, pretty much the only problem that Raiders of the Lost Ark has. It’s so fun for the vast majority of its running time that I’ll easily forgive that, and I’ll even add that the epilogue kind of makes up for it, too. It’s a minor flaw that I’ll easily look over, although I did hope that the main characters would, you know, have an effect on the proceedings near the end. You’ll see what I mean if and when you watch it, which you definitely should. It won’t ruin the whole experience, but it might put a damper on what is otherwise a blast of a motion picture.
There are a couple of notable supporting characters, many of whom have an odd relationship with Dr. Jones. The most important is Marion (Karen Allen), a woman he met years ago but hasn’t seen in a long time. She’s bitter, obviously, but still adores him. They end up becoming partners. The villain, apart from the Nazis, is Dr. Belloq (Paul Freeman) who plays an important role in the opening scene — he takes the item that Indy worked so hard to get, just because he can. And John Rhys-Davies appears as a sidekick in the middle section, which is always fun to see.
It’s Harrison Ford, and the action scenes, that carry the film. He, a gruff, determined soul, battling constantly against the forces of whatever the filmmakers can cook up for him. The environment is far more dangerous than the Nazis ever are; they always seem to miss with their shots, regardless of how many are taken against our hero. There’s enough variety to the action scenes to keep them fresh, and the pacing is so brisk so as to not allow us a moment to get bored.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a very enjoyable movie. It has plenty of action, adventure and comedy, set to a brisk pace and with enough interesting characters to keep us engaged. It brings us a villain we can easily rally against, a MacGuffin that everyone will go to the ends of the for, and enough creative action scenes to make you say “wow,” a couple of times every half hour. You owe it to yourself to see this movie, with other people if you can, so that you can have a very fun two hours of escapism.