Raiders of the Lost Ark – Indiana Jones (movie review)

Raiders of the Lost Ark seems to be the favorite Indiana Jones movie of anyone who’s in their forties or older – if you’re in your thirties, you tend to gravitate toward The Last Crusade, but such is life. I mention this because I myself am a Last Crusade man and therefore don’t worship at the altar of the Lost Ark. That’s not to say I don’t like the movie, but I thought it was worth mentioning that this one isn’t my favorite so you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Like all Indiana Jones movies, this one has a formula (well, they deviated from the formula a little in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in terms of the order they did things, which is part of that movie’s problem…), and since is the first execution of that formula, I thought it was worth taking a look at how it’s deployed here.

The Indy/Villain Setup
In this first scene, we learn that Indy is intelligent, brave and bad ass. Meanwhile, we also learn that Mr. French’s Mustard is ruthless, cruel and just an a-hole in general. Did you hear how his maniacal laugh rings through the jungle? I’m pretty sure he’s the bad guy! Sure, this adventure has nothing to do with the plot, but it sets up our protagonist and antagonist – there will be time for plot later. For now, boulder!

What’s an Ark?
The Ark of the Covenant contains the pieces of the Ten Commandments tablets and these… do something. The movie tells us:

“The bible speaks of the ark leveling mountains and laying waste to entire regions.”

but then Mr. French tells us:

“It’s a transmitter – it’s a radio for speaking to God!”

Where in the hell did he get that idea? And what the hell does he want to talk to God for? If he’d ever read the Bible, he’d know that if God wants to talk to you, he’ll let you know. If The Bible is clear on anything, I’d say it’s that.

Anyway, it turns out that the Ark is full of yellow light that blows holes in people’s chests if you look at it and if you stand to close, it’ll melt the flesh right off your bones because… I dunno. You looked at it. Don’t look at it. Even though the movie doesn’t really set that up in any way. But whatever.

The other Bad Guy and The Heavy
There’s usually a secondary bad guy; in this case, it’s the hat and glasses guy. We know this guy is evil because he’s all “I’ll stick you with this hot poker!” Eventually, we meet The Heavy – it’s that jacked bald dude Indy fights by the plane.

The Girl
They’re not exactly bond girls, but every Indiana Jones movie has a different female lead… until Crystal Skull. (Again, they deviated from the formula last time out.) Here, we have Marion; she’s tough, independent… but kinda gets reduced to a damsel in distress later in the movie. Her first scene is great, though.

There’s always a certain amount of comedy in the Indiana Jones movies, and this time, we get the conniving monkey and his handler. The monkey is a jerk; he’ll pretend to be your friend, but then he’ll stab you in the back the first chance he gets. Also, he’s a Nazi. I’m all about animals, but once you start working for Hitler, all bets are off – you’re a bad guy in this movie and you deserve whatever you get.

There’s also the fight scene in Cairo where Indy shoots the guy with the sword rather than fight him, which apparently happened because Harrison Ford was too sick to do the fight choreography as originally planned. Then Marion hits the guy in the head with the frying pan… again, I know everyone hates the fridge from Crystal Skull, but I’m just saying, these movies are kinda silly – just roll with it!

The Ending
Now that all of the boxes have been checked, we can proceed to the ending… which, as I mentioned, is full of cartoon ghosts and yellow lights. This doesn’t bother me (I am, however, bothered that Indy somehow knew they had to close their eyes, but whatever), but again, if you complain about the fridge but think cartoon ghosts are OK… I’m kinda baffled. Also, the bad guys have been trying to kill Indiana Jones throughout the entire movie (specifically Mr. French) and he killed a ton of Nazis, so those guys much be itching for pay back – now, at the end, they finally have Indy at their mercy and what do they do? Nothing. They just tie him to a poll.

I don’t get it.

Anyway, that’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s a fun film – there’s lot of cool stuff to look at, but I do wish they’d pick up the pace a little. I like the flick, I just don’t love it – I give it an 8 out of 10 – a solid recommendation and a good watch both then and now.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on April 15, 2014, in lists, movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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