Movie Monday, Movies

Raiders of the Lost Ark: A Shallow But Enjoyable Adventure

*Deep breath* Okay. I’m going to tackle this one. Try not to rip my head off over this, alright?

Indiana Jones is one of those film franchises. The kind where, if you say something disagreeable, the fans will come to your home, eat your pets, tear you limb from limb, then hang your head from the balcony for the neighbors to see. It’s in a class of film that I like to call ‘Divine’.

Let me explain. The scale, which I totally didn’t just pull out of my ass just now as I was writing this, from bottom to top, goes as follows.

  • Trash: the bad but fun ones.
  • Bad: the boring ones.
  • Forgettable: the ones that don’t stick with you, but also don’t make you want to kill yourself.
  • Alright: the good ones that you’ll recall fondly for a bit.
  • Classic: the films that have stood the test of time for a long time.
  • Divine: the classics that have stuck themselves so firmly into people’s hearts that they’ve developed a cult-like love for it, usually out of nostalgia.

Critiquing the Divine class films is difficult, to say the least. Partially because of the fans, yes. But also because they are genuinely amazing movies! Criticizing them feels like a sin!

Thankfully, I’m not religious! Let’s get started!

Plot: Where’s the Box?!

Narrative wise, I have little to complain about. The story is simple, easy to follow, and incredibly engaging! Sure, some of the dialogue is a bit corny, the characters are all flat and uninteresting, and certain plot elements are a bit rushed. But aside from that, this film is rock solid! It’s enjoyable from beginning to end!

Indiana Jones is a bold adventurer with a love for history and a fear of snakes. After a failed attempt to steal an ancient treasure, he’s sent off to find the Lost Ark, an ancient treasure said to have incredible power. But he’s not the only one on the hunt; his rival in archeology has been hired by the Nazi army to find it as well, and they have no intention of making Indie’s job easy!

The story is far from deep or thought-provoking. None of the characters struggle with any internal turmoil, nor do they overcome their weaknesses or traumas to become better, stronger people.  The story doesn’t have any major themes, nor does it explore any interesting questions that will stick with you for years to come.

But to be fair, this story isn’t about that! Rather, it’s all about two things. One: kicking ass. Two: grabbing ancient artifacts. Mostly the former. But it spoons in enough of the ladder to compliment the former.

The plot of this movie is only really there to get us from setpiece to setpiece. It isn’t a story about characters; it’s all about the adventure itself. Normally, I’d complain about that. I much prefer a character-driven story. But when the adventure is this thrilling from start to end? I’ll give it a pass.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to point out the flaws. Particularly, the relationship between Indie and Marian Ravenwood. Their dynamic develops way too quickly! One scene, they’re at each other’s throats. The next, she’s begging for Indie to save her. The next, they’re making out. I get that the rush of a life-threatening adventure does shit to your brain, but come on!

Still, like I said, this movie is all about the adventure. While it does bother me, I can acknowledge that the characters aren’t supposed to be the focal point. For this story, all the characters had to be were likable and capable. And they were certainly that (excluding the completely useless Marian)! Though I’d definitely like this movie more if the characters were well-written and interesting.

But classic movies were a simpler time. And I can appreciate that.

Visuals: That Crisp, Classic Feel

Ah, practical effects! Words can hardly describe how much I miss you!

This movie looks incredible, even today! Each shot is amazing, perfectly balancing the lighting, color, and camera placement to create an interesting and dynamic visual experience! Every single shot, whether Indie is standing in a shadow or fighting atop a spinning plane, is a delight to look at!

Then there are the practical effects! These are as timeless as you could get! They give the movie a feeling of reality and weight, which makes it easy to get sucked into what’s happening! Sure, there are a few green-screen shots (or blue screen, given the time) that don’t necessarily stand the test of time. But those are few and far between!

Dozens of classic, timeless images have come out of the practical effects. The battle atop the plane! The crawl through the snake-infested tomb! All of them are timeless images that, unlike movies that rely on CGI, will never age a day!

Out of every aspect of this film, this one is easily the best. It looks amazing, from start to end! You could turn the sound off completely and still have a great time!

Although you would be missing the John Williams score. Which I won’t even bother talking about. Saying that he makes good music is as mindless a statement as looking into the sun and saying “Wow, that’s bright!”

Performances: Damn, Harrison Ford Gives a Shit!

It’s a more rare occurrence than you’d think. Especially in his more recent films. Granted, he can get away with it.

I had little to complain about when it came to the performances. Everyone was solid, all around the board! Granted, I didn’t think any of the Nazis were very convincing. But in American films, there are very few actors that can properly pull off a German accent. So I guess I can let it slide.

Harrison Ford is definitely the stand-out performance here. He perfectly brings the titular character to life! He can go from unstoppably badass to adorably flustered to blindingly terrified with the drop of a hat! And each one is completely convincing!

Not to say that everyone else is bad. But Harrison Ford is definitely the big one out of all of them. Which is good, considering that he’s the main character.

I don’t have much else to say here. Everyone did a great job. Hell, we even got a good performance out of a fucking monkey! In fact, that adorable little bastard may be the best actor in the movie!

Conclusion

This movie has definitely earned its status as a classic. It’s not especially deep, interesting, or thought-provoking. But it isn’t trying to be any of that! It’s trying to be one thing: fun. And it was just that.

If you somehow still haven’t seen this movie, then I’d highly recommend you check it out! It’s one of the best classic films of all time! It’s so much damn fun from beginning to end! Out of all four Indiana Jones movies (soon to be five), this one may very well be my favorite!

Although I do have more nostalgia for The Last Crusade. And God knows that I’m not giving it to Temple of Doom or Crystal Skull.

Why do I get the feeling that my Temple of Doom shade just made me a few enemies?

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