As part of our ongoing Sequelthon, we wanted to take a look at the original three Indiana Jones. In the past we’ve had James Bond week and we’re hoping to host a brief Star Wars week soon. This week will be special in that all three of our reviews have already been hosted on friend sites already. To start things off, check out the Flashback/Backslide review of Raiders of the Lost Ark which was written deep in the throws of James Bond week with the recent release of Spectre. The review was originally written as part of What About the Twinkie‘s Film Club. Check out the original post HERE to find out what a bunch of us thought.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
For some reason Raiders of the Lost Ark manages to be an often overlooked classic despite the fact that it ages remarkably well. The legacy of Raiders feels warped by outside factors including comparisons to contemporaries like Star Wars and its recent sequel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (and maybe even National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code). It’s somehow easy to forget that Raiders is awesome from start to finish.
We first meet Indiana Jones in one of cinema’s most famous and most copied introductions (the most fun recent copy being Guardians of the Galaxy). From that jungle beginning we follow Indy across the world as he and a gang of other hunters search for one of cinema’s great MacGuffins. What makesRaiders stand out even after three sequels and plenty other similarly framed movies is its cast of characters. Harrison Ford is perfect in the title role making it somewhat shocking in hindsight that George Lucas originally voted against his casting. The cast around Ford may be even better. Karen Allen, as Marion Ravenwood, steals scenes just as often as Ford while Paul Freemon and Ronald Lacey provide a pair of balanced villains that keep the plot even. Freeman’s performance as Indy’s charismatic and at-times-likeable competitor Dr. René Belloq allows Lacey to go full evil as Major Arnold Toht.
Like the cast, the story itself is well-balanced throughout with actual character development happening between action scenes which are actually relevant to the plot. Having just seen Spectre and a half dozen other James Bond films, it’s impossible for me not to think of Raiders as a sort of Bond film. Indy isn’t British, doesn’t dress particularly well, and is more book-smart than any of the Bonds but he does trek through exotic locations while going on ridiculous missions and fighting over-the-top-villains. So he’s kind of like Bond? Or maybe I don’t know enough about Bond. I’ll probably take this back in a few weeks once I’ve forgotten the Mexico City scenes in Spectre or the opening scene in GoldenEye or Sean Connery’s fight with Odd Job in the vault.