"Raiders of the Lost Ark" stars Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, and John Rhys-Davies. Released on June 12, 1981, the film is about an archeologist who fights against the Nazis while searching for the Ark of the Covenant.
The film is directed by Steven Spielberg, who also directed films such as Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Jurassic Park. It is the first installment of the Indiana Jones film franchise. The first time I became interested in Indiana Jones was from playing the LEGO Indiana Jones game for the Playstation 2 and from watching the latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, back in 2008 (I know, it's crazy). So when I heard that there's going to be fifth Indiana Jones film coming out in 2019, I decided to look back at the film that started it all, which is considered to be one of the best films of all time. But what is it that makes this film such a classic? Was it the sense of adventure? The humor? The practical effects? The main character? Turns out, it was all of the above.
The young Harrison Ford did a really impressive job as Indiana Jones, an archeology professor who goes on many types of dangerous adventures to recover historical artifacts. I think what makes Jones such a believable and memorable character is that he's not a superhero, he's a regular adventure-seeking guy that fights baddies and gets himself into perilous situations that feels life-threatening. I also love his sense of humor, especially his fear of snakes. In fact, the humor was actually pretty good for an adventure film like this. It doesn't come off as forced or anything. The other cast members did a good job as well, such as Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood and Paul Freeman as Jones' nemesis, Rene Belloq. The story revolves around a 'Good vs. Evil' scenario, where the hero (Jones) tries to find a certain type of artifact before it falls into the hands of evil. It doesn't go too far with its cheesiness, especially the villains, which makes it such an enjoyable film to watch. I also like how well they used the practical effects and the visuals, especially with the Ark sequence near the end of the film. But the one thing I enjoyed the most was the film's musical score provided by John Williams. Not only was it the most memorable score in film history, but it drives the film based on a certain emotion. Whenever there's danger lurking about, the score lets us know the danger. Whenever the hero is caught in the middle of the action, the score delivers some music that's adventurous and heart-pounding, especially the Indiana Jones theme music. The direction by Spielberg was also impressive in terms of the action.
If there is one flaw I should point out, it's that the pacing can be a bit slow at times. It's not that much of a big deal, but it's possible for kids to be bored out of their minds from listening to the historical facts about the Ark. Speaking of which, the film was released before the PG-13 rating was invented by the MPAA, so there are some scenes that can be too intense or disturbing for younger viewers, such as the violence and the climatic sequence with the Ark.
Overall, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" continues to be a prime example of the adventure genre thanks to Harrison Ford's performance, its remarkable story-telling, its mixture of adventure and mystery, and John Williams' magnificent score. Sure, it's slow at some points, but the amount of action and humor is just enough to keep me entertained. If you haven't seen it already, I would highly recommend it.