Raiders of the Lost Ark Blu-ray Review
How to review one of my favorite movies of all time (if not my favorite)? Talk to any movie lover and they’ll have ready an ever-rotating list of their all-time favorite movies. Or, if they are like me, they’ll have a rotating list of what I call the ‘best’ movies of all time, and then a bunch of qualifiers like ‘these are the movies I can watch over and over’ or ‘these are the movies I consider the best of the critically acclaimed’ – for some these may be the same thing, for me they are mutually exclusive lists of movies I adore. But at or near the top of any list sits a movie, which brought together the likes of Lawrence Kasdan (who wrote the script for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK), George Lucas (who came up with the rough story and is responsible for the creation of the character Indiana Jones), and director Steven Spielberg. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK was, and is, the culmination of a group of filmmakers coming together at the height of their creative genius, a film that inspired a bunch of young kids to dream about becoming archaeologists, a film that inspired a generation.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK begins with mystery. A small group is making their way through a forest. There is a man among them, worn leather coat and fedora showing many years of hard living, leading them through the forest. We only catch glimpses until one of the band pulls a gun; suddenly a whip cracks through the forest, grabbing the gun from his hand and knocking it away. Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) steps into the shot – not afraid, not worried, a man on a mission – a hero is born. We then watch Jones deftly maneuver through traps while obtaining a golden idol, only to have to give up the idol to another treasure hunter, Belloq (Paul Freeman), the film’s villain.
In real-life, Jones is an archaeologist and professor at University – but when the federal government comes knocking at his door and asking him to help them acquire the lost Ark of the Covenant – he jumps at the chance. They are seeking the Ark to keep it out of the hands of Hitler, the up-start head of Nazi Germany who has been seeking out religious relics all across the globe. Framing the story and pitting our protagonist against arguably the worst regime our world has ever known, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK accomplishes in just a few short scenes a build that would make most movies jealous, and we haven’t even gotten into the action yet.
Jones seeks out his former mentor but instead finds his daughter, Marion (played by Karen Allen). His mentor is dead, but when Jones saves Marion’s life she agrees to help him in his quest. They have a history palpable from the first moment they share the screen, which adds further mystery to the character with some never-explained hints at their past (did Jones take advantage of her when she was a child, or were they in love)? Soon we are in Egypt as Jones and Marion try and fail many times to get to the Ark before Hitler’s Nazis (who have conveniently recruited Belloq to help them).
Presenting RAIDERS IN THE LOST ARK through known legends about Hitler’s desire for occult/religious artifacts is a brilliant frame to an incredible story. And though it is easy to root for Indiana Jones against the Nazis, he is a flawed man who never quite loses his scoundrel veneer. Harrison Ford delivers an iconic performance in an iconic role that makes it easy to forget about Han Solo (from that other Lucas trilogy) and pushes the movie into its own legendary space in film history.
Ford is helped along the way by his supporting cast; Allen is phenomenal as the strong-willed Marion, and John Rhys-Davies (Gimli from THE LORD OF THE RINGS) makes an appearance as friend Sallah. Paul Freeman is also pitch perfect as the flawed and slimy Belloq, a man so consumed by greed he has no care for the ultimate results of his work. Add in the inspired direction of Spielberg in his prime, an incredible score by John Williams, and Kasdan’s tight script and the whole recipe results in a film that holds up as well today on an HD television as it did in theaters 30 years ago. To put it bluntly – if you’ve never seen RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, get off the couch and pick up this Blu-ray today. Same if you’re a fan. You won’t regret having this treat in your collection.
Video: (1080p, 2.35:1 Widescreen) The video for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is presented beautifully in widescreen and looks as though it was meant to be shown on HD TVs. You’ll feel a part of the action from the first frame to the last.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is also beautifully presented, swelling RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARKs trademark theme to marvelous highs and lows while the action is brilliantly presented as well.
The Blu-ray of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK features 3 trailers as its sole special feature, the Teaser Trailer (01:03), the Theatrical Trailer (02:33), and the Re-issue Trailer (01:45) from the films second run in theaters. I love trailers from my youth, and these are some incredibly fun ones to watch.