Typically, I would start my review with a brief, one sentence synopsis of the film I am reviewing. At times, boiling the essence of a film down to one sentence is difficult, if not near to impossible. I am going to do this review very differently than others. Instead of reviewing the film as I normally do, wherein I break it down to look at all it’s parts, I am going to assume that my readers have all seen Raiders of the Lost Ark. Also, the Blu-Ray box set drops in a couple of weeks and I will be purchasing that and reviewing all the Indiana Jones films there. Instead, for this review, I am going to discuss what Raiders of the Lost Ark means to me and how amazing it was to be able to finally see this on the big screen.
In 1981, when this film was originally released, I was 5 years old. As such, I never saw it in the theater. My first viewing of Raiders of the Lost Ark was on VHS in 1982, when my uncle bought one of the first VHS players. If I recall correctly, he spent an exorbitant amount of cash for the thing. It was big, it was bulky, and it was a top loader, which means you pushed a button on the machine and a door popped up from the top, wherein you inserted the VHS cassette. It was a wonder of civilization being able to watch any movie you wanted at home any time you wanted. I remember it being amazing.
The next year, when my folks finally got around to buying a cheaper model of VCR, my uncle bought my brother and I the VHS of Raiders of the Lost Ark. We were both very young when we watched the film. While we didn’t understand everything that was in the film (we were still years away from learning about nazi’s and World War II in school), we would watch the film over and over for the stunning action scenes. Indy running from the boulder in the beginning. The fight scene in the bar in Nepal. The snakes in The Well of Souls promptly followed by the fight at the airplane. We would marvel every time at the truck chase to recapture the Ark from the bad guys where Indy goes under the truck. My particular favorite scene is when the nazi’s board the freighter and take Marion and they can’t find Indy only to see him climbing onto the German sub, while the strains of the brilliant and moving John Williams score soared. I can’t speak for my brother, but Indiana Jones has always been my cinematic hero.
Over the years, there hasn’t been a single year that has went by that I haven’t revisited the film at least once. I have seen it roughly 50 times and it is still as amazing as it ever was. Quite simply, it is as close to a perfect film as you will ever see. My one regret was that I had never had a chance to see it on the big screen. While I was too young to see Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back in the theater, they have been re-released a few times over the years. I was 8 when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released, but my uncle took me to see it. He also took me to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I went on my own to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (give it a break, it’s not as bad as you think it is. . .I will grant you the swinging with monkeys thing is pretty dumb, though). Raiders of the Lost Ark had never been re-released in my area. I had never seen it on the big screen . . .until today.
To promote the upcoming Blu-Ray box set, Paramount re-released a restored Raiders of the Lost Ark in the Imax theaters. The closest Imax to me is an hour away, but that didn’t stop me. Sure, I had to work right after, but come on . . .it’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. When the Paramount logo appeared and faded into the mountain in the beginning of the film, I felt myself getting misty. This is one of my favorite films of all time, and I was finally getting to see it on the BIG screen. It was an amazing experience.
The picture has never looked better. The sound was amazing. This was one hour and fifty five minutes of pure joy. To finally get a chance to see it on the silver screen was absolutely amazing. If you love anywhere near an Imax screen, you owe it to yourself to give this a watch. It is the greatest action/adventure film ever made. Hands down.
**** out of ****
*NOTE* I intentionally did not call the film Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. While the poster says that is the title, when the film starts it still only says Raiders of the Lost Ark. Just like Star Wars is Star Wars not Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. F*#k that. It’s Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. End of story.
- Unused footage from Raiders of the Lost Ark reveals what Indiana Jones’ marketplace battle was supposed to look like [Video] (io9.com)