Saturday, March 22, 2008

Review - Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark
1982 Hugo Winner for Best Dramatic Presentation

When I decided to also go through the dramatic presentation Hugos I knew I would have to deal with this. Let me just run through a few facts about Raiders of the Lost Ark:
  • At the time of its release it became the third highest grossing film of all time behind only it's director's Jaws and it's producer's Star Wars. It's still in the top fifty money makers over twenty-five years later.
  • On the IMDB it's listed at the 17th best movie of all time marking its continued popularity.
  • On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 95% fresh rating demonstrating it's massive critical success.
In short, it's one of the most successful, popular, and well regarded films of all time. It doesn't even have same kind of people who eventually got turned off to it like Star Wars has. I strongly question if there's an American on the Internet who has not seen Raiders.

I suppose I could whine about how weak the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull looks or complain how Temple of Doom lacks the punch and Last Crusade feels too much like a rehash but who wants that?

So a synopsis... Indiana Jones is a field archaeologist who appears to not do an awful lot of archeology. Instead he spends his time collecting treasures from ancient temples with highly improbably but cool looking death traps, getting into bar fights with Nazis on Mount Everest, smashing priceless artifacts to escape a pit full of cobras, riding on the outside of trucks and submarines, and generally causing entertaining mayhem. He does this to keep the Ark of the Covenant away from Hitler who thinks it would look just spiffy next to his Spear of Destiny. It's structured like an adventure serial but with a significantly higher budget.

Okay, it wouldn't have been my choice for the Hugo award winner that year. As an adventure movie the fantasy elements were downplayed and saved for the very end making it a weak genre entry despite its qualities as a film (yeah, I know it's an arbitrary distinction). 1982 also had the underrated Time Bandits and the fine retelling of Arthurian legend Excalibur on the ballot but popularity triumphed.

So if you're the one person who might stumble across this and have not seen Raiders of the Lost Ark drop what you're doing and see it now. It has God going Old Testament on Nazis in it!