Indiana Jones is a cinematic icon. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Harrison Ford were at the top of their game when the stars aligned and they came together to create Raiders of the Lost Ark. Harrison Ford created another character as classic and memorable as Han Solo, a nearly impossible feat. This film is nonstop action. Each action sequence is memorable and, more importantly, relevant to the plot. Indiana Jones is a hero who can’t quite catch a break, but refuses to fail.
The opening sequence sums up Indiana Jones in a nutshell. He’s tromping through a jungle and explores a long lost temple. He discovers a rare object of indescribable historical significance and experiences booby traps and sudden betrayals and reveals his fear of snakes. Everything you need to know about the character and the trilogy is summed up spectacularly in the first few scenes. I say trilogy because there was no fourth movie that destroyed the franchise and made Shia LaDouche the heir apparent to donning the fedora and whip.
Indiana Jones is an archeology professor, one of the best in the world and he is recruited to by some military suits to keep the Nazis from finding the Ark of the Covenant. Indy’s old mentor Abner Ravenwood has a medallion that could reveal the location of the Ark, so Indy goes to find him before the Nazis do. Indiana Jones finds Abner’s daughter, Marion (Karen Allen), who says that Abner is dead and that she doesn’t know where the medallion is. It’s clear that Marion and Indy have a romantic past and that she’s bitter about something. Some Nazis come looking for the medallion and Indy saves her and the two of them team up and to Cairo with the medallion that she had the whole time.
They hang out in Egypt with a monkey and an old friend of Indy’s named Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). They learn a little about why the Nazis are so interested in finding the Ark and Indy finds out that his rival Belloq (Paul Freeman) is helping the Nazis find the Ark.
Indy has more information than the Nazis and is able to find the Ark. But nothing is ever easy for Indy and Belloq and the Nazis take away the Ark and trap Indy and Marion in an ancient tomb and leave them for dead. They manage to escape and there’s an exciting sequence with trucks and desert driving and Indy reclaims the Ark. Then the Nazis take it back but Indy is crafty and follows them and eventually gives himself up when he can’t destroy the Ark because it is too important. Belloq and the Nazis open the Ark and weird ghosty demons spew out and kill everyone who is watching, but Indy and Marion close their eyes and are spared because they didn’t see anything.
The movie ends with Indian Jones telling the military suits the significance of the Ark. They tell him that there are people working on it and then it cuts to the Ark in a crate being stashed into a huge warehouse with thousands of other identical crates.
Indiana Jones is a great character. He is bold and fearless but makes tons of mistakes and is flawed. He seems so brave and courageous but is scared of snakes. He seems so smart and educated but can’t spell for shit. He’s not perfect, that’s what makes him endearing. He is like James Bond but with a limp and a lisp, he’s almost as cool but can’t get away with everything. Things go wrong for him. He gets the artifact and loses it a second later. He gets in fights and fights dirty if he has to.
I remember that my dad got this movie at McDonald’s. Back in the day McDonald’s would occasionally sell movies and I remember getting a Happy Meal and coming home with the Raiders of the Lost Ark. We also got Dances with Wolves from McDonald’s too. I don’t know why that’s worth including in this review, but I had to share that with somebody.
Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great movie. It’s the start of a great franchise and there’s no doubt that it’s the best movie in that franchise. Indiana Jones is one of those few characters that transcend film. You don’t need to have seen any of the movies to recognize Indiana Jones. The leather jacket, the whip, the fedora… Indiana Jones is almost as recognizable as Mickey Mouse. If you haven’t seen this movie you have failed at life.
Critically Rated at 16/17