Hello everyone and welcome to the very FIRST written review of 2023. I've been gone for a little while now, and I've been contemplating a few reworks of this Blog site of mine. The first big one is to actually have a project for every month instead of a whole whack of almost daily reviews that I can't keep up with. We kick it all off with a look back at the 'Indiana Jones' franchise, starting with 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'.
The film opens in 1936 with one of the most epic adventure scenes of all time, as we follow our favourite archeologist, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) and some guy named Sapito (Alfred Molina) through a heavily booby-trapped Peruvian temple. This is a great chunk of scene that tells the audience what they're in for with this lead character. He's clever, he's cunning and he's a badass. But he can still make mistakes that send giant boulders chasing after him. He soon bumps into a fellow archaeologist named René Belloq (Paul Freeman) who we see very quickly provides Indy with a worthy rival for this film.
Back home in America, Indy lives his life as a university professor who is heavily "crushed on" by his female students. His classroom is one day visited by friend and colleague, Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) who takes him to meet a couple of Army Intelligence agents. The pair are told that Nazi forces are in search of something of significant power which we find out is most likely the one and only Ark of the Covenant. With it, Hitler's armies could have the potential to be unstoppable, so it's now up to Indy to intercept the artifact before the Nazis get hold of it and unleash a potential Hell on the Earth
During this race, Indy reunites with a couple of old friends; characters we have grown to love over the years. First is Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), with whom Indy once had a secret relationship. She happens to have a medallion that Indy needs to find the Ark's location and she soon partners up with him. Second, once the two reach Cairo, Egypt, is Sallah (John Rhys-Davies); a dear friend of Indy's, and known to be one of the best diggers in Cairo. It's not long before the trio find themselves stuck, not only in a race against Nazi forces claiming the Ark, but with these Nazis and other mercenaries trying to kill them in the process.
Perhaps most notable among these villains isn't even the lead villain, Belloq. For yours truly, my appreciation for Belloq came over time. Nowadays, I appreciate his almost gentlemanly charm that contrasts with his sleaziness in that he's aiding the Nazis in their search. But when I was a kid watching this, the big baddie to me was always Gestapo Agent Arnold Toht (Ronald Lacey). He had this extremely evil look to him, and it was easy to tell that he was just a sinister human being. He also had a wee bit of a Peter Lorre thing going on in my opinion, which always adds an element of creepiness. Nowadays, I see him much more as the side character he is - although he probably does have the worse personality between the two.
It had been quite a while since the last time I saw this, so I had a lot of fun with it this time around. It seems no matter how many times I watch this movie, certain scenes will always hit me with that feeling I had when I was a kid - cheering on Indy as some kind of superhero without a cape. The whole opening scene has become synonymous with what the "Adventure" genre should look like. The car chase scene with its practicality, lack of CG, and real stunts holds up FAR better than anything they did similarly in 'Crystal Skull'. Even the big, climactic scene that DOES look a little bit cheesy by today's standards reminds me how 'Indiana Jones' is probably the most responsible property for my first little toe-dips into the horror genre. I mean all of these have something along those lines.
Perhaps the boldest statement I can say about this film is that I would probably consider it to be the best adventure movie of all time. I always come away from this movie thinking about whether the adventure genre would quite be what it is if it weren't for this movie. If I was to give a defining example for each stand-alone genre, this would be my go-to for "Adventure" without hesitation. I do sometimes wonder how I'd feel if this was all new to me, but the fact of the matter is, Indiana Jones was pretty big in our household. Perhaps more of my brother's thing than my own, but I still liked to sit and watch these with him - even if it did get downright terrifying sometimes... (those faces melted, man. Melted!)