Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day Twenty-Three: Raiders of the Lost Ark

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #20
Year: 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford and Karen Allen

This is a tough one for me to stomach. I like Indiana Jones. I really do. And Raiders of the Lost Ark is a very fun movie to watch. But I still have to ask, how in God's name is this the twentieth best movie of all time? There's a small handful of better fun summer popcorn action movies that take place in cool-looking environments, and none of those deserve to be called the twentieth best movie of all time either. What happened here?

Of course, Harrison Ford is a total badass as Indiana Jones, but Dr. Jones is still ultimately Han Solo as an archaeologist, and Star Wars has a lot more going for it than this. We still have to talk about what this movie has going for it, though, and that's plenty. You've got some of the most fun action sequences of all time, involving Dr. Jones, guns, sand, snakes, statues, women, car chases, and valuable artifacts. If all archaeology professors were as awesome as Indy, it would be the most popular major at every university in the country. The formula for a fun summer action movie isn't followed here; it's created. This is definitely an influential movie. Just because you did it first doesn't mean you did it best, but I won't be too big of a sourpuss to say this isn't a great movie. It is. Everything that can be expected from this film is present, so I certainly hope I didn't overstate my chagrin at its position on the list. I'm not arguing that it shouldn't be on the list – that exercise starts tomorrow – I'm just arguing that it shouldn't be #20.

On an unrelated note, I can't write a transition to save my life right now. On another unrelated note, it's a little sad to see Harrison Ford be as awesome as he is in this movie knowing full well that we don't have anyone like him anymore. He was smart and witty, but he fired first. He could get your adrenaline pumping, but he could actually act as well. His characters were role models for wide-eyed youths and wide-bellied men. There's no one like him anymore, and if I were a psychologist, I would try to prove that this is reflected in the spineless, unfunny kids of today. On second thought, I'll just blame the terrible programming on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. Indiana Jones and Han Solo were the definition of cool, and it's a shame that the new definition of cool is probably the Jonas Brothers or something. I'm too young to feel this old.

Anyway, this is a great movie, although its placement at #20 is definitely a reflection of the bizarre worship of Steven Spielberg that has been rammed down our throats forever and a half just because everyone in America can name him. If you somehow haven't seen this movie, do so, then realize that it's just a very good summer movie that revolutionized the way National Treasure would eventually be made and not the kind of thing that should be sitting at #20 on a greatest films ever list.

The Good: Impossible to overstate the coolness of Indiana Jones. He shoots guys! He fights guys! He drinks! He steals treasures! He...teaches archaeology! Harrison Ford owns this movie.

The Bad: Some bits are extremely corny now. Hell, they were probably corny then. Again, this is just a summer movie. It's basically analysis-proof. There's nothing to analyze.

The Skinny: I'd like to see this movie right around #100 on the list. But if you really want to get pissed off, the next five days are TRAVESTY WEEK! The long-awaited week of me writing about movies that everyone loves that I hate finally begins! I'll be told that I "don't get it" by fanboys for five days! It's gonna be awesome! Hope you'll join me!


  1. He never forgets his fedora either!

    I agree with you Brad 20 is too high, even though I'm a big fan of the Indiana Jones films. Around 60 I think is fair for this movie due to Ford's performance and the action sequences.

  2. Neither do I like Indiana Jones, nor understand why it's on the list. It's not that it's absolutely BAD, but it's definitely not one of 250 greatest films of all times.

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  4. ^Exactly, Indiana Jones is a very fallible character he feels pain, makes mistakes, and is occasionally the butt of his own jokes. He has an every man quality to him which makes the character so endearing.

  5. Fun, but overrated for sure. I liked Bert's comment, made me rethink the movie :)
    Raiders of the Lost Ark 8-/10