Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), directed by Steven Spielberg.


It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage.

The grandaddy and still the best of the modern retro-adventures (setting aside Star Wars (1977) as the space opera equivalent). The sequels can't match the original charm and excitement. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) tries to copy the formula but a copy is never as fresh.

The best feature of the story is the looming mystery of the Ark itself -- a holy relic that will not be messed with. Egypt adds a Biblical background, as if we were traveling in history itself.

Also good: the return of guilt-free fun, hearkening to a more innocent age. Harrison Ford and his character make the movie work.

The not so good: in reviving the children's adventure serial, the filmmakers sometimes think their audiences are willing to be more child-like than they probably are. The stock characters sometimes seem less "fun" than "cheap and easy": child-like Arabs, dastardly nazis. The silly fighting stunts in the market with the comic score.


Available on Blu-ray.