Raiders of the Lost Ark

Snakes...why did it have to be snakes.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * * )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first movie I ever loved. I don't mean I enjoyed watching it, I mean I watched it twenty four times in the theater. I mean I had every line of dialog memorized. I mean that I had three bull whips I would practice with in my yard and I got pretty good too. I had posters, movie stills, and action figures. I loved this movie. Twenty two years later, I get to see it again with a restored picture and enhanced sound. I remember why I love this movie and I love it all over again.

I have been playing with a theory that the true strength of a movie isn't the director or the actors or the production studio or the writer. The only thing that really matters is the movie. Sometimes, in the case of The Hulk, adding a star director like Ang Lee won't fix bad writing. Others, like in Raiders of the Lost Ark, you have the best movie Speilberg ever did and ever will, twenty two years before he made Catch Me If You Can. It is a perfect movie for a lot of reasons. The writing, the acting, the simple but deep story, the action, the sets and costumes, the music, all of it in combination make a movie thousands of times better than The Mummy.

Raiders of the Lost Ark took itself seriously but not too seriously. It is funny and exciting but not snobby or laced with some message that is beaten into us over and over. Indiana Jones isn't a saint. He shoots a swordsman from thirty feet because he didn't have the time to fight him. He throws sand in people's eyes and kicks them in the groin. He's a flawed character who falls asleep before he can make love to Marian. He is one of the greatest heroes in American cinema.

I am still angry that this DVD hadn't come out until now. It is long overdue. The presentation is an excellent 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced transfer with a newly remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It looks and sounds great. There are a bunch of extra features, but most of them you have to get by purchasing Raiders in a three-disc set with the other two Indiana Jones movies. Worst of all, they released a 4x3 version of the film as well. It took me fifteen minutes of digging to find one of their last widescreen versions. Don't release movies on 4x3, it just confuses the customer.

Seeing Raiders reminds me of a part of my childhood I hadn't remembered in a long time. I loved this movie more than any other and to see it again brings it all back. It is nice to know I had good taste in movies even back then. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a great movie.