This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Unexpectedly, I've now watched Raiders of the Lost Ark for the third time in a year: last March on DVD with my nephew (who fell asleep), September in IMAX with my friends and now on Blu-ray Disc by myself. I suppose I'll have to view it on another format in another six months to keep the streak going.
The Blu-ray transfer is gorgeous, but I have to say that this was the first time I think I've seen details in HD that began to look faker to me than they previously had. The storms, for instance, which looked unnatural on DVD and even in IMAX looked like rear projection work on Blu-ray. These weren't major issues for me, in part because there were so few instances, but I was cognizant of them.
I also found myself feeling differently about Karen Allen's presence and the character of Marion this time. I was completely smitten with her in September on the big screen, but I found myself largely indifferent to her tonight. I really do think there's something about movies that is lost in the at-home viewing experience, and while I don't claim to really understand what that is or how it works, I believe it to be truer now than I did before.
There's not much to be said at this point about anything substantial; just little things.
*Did Indy not arrive with Jacques in South America? How else would he not have known about the snake? It's perfectly plausible that the met and made their arrangements for only extrication, of course, but it seemed more contrived this time that he wouldn't have known about the snake.
*They're already up to reading chapters four and five in the text, but he's just now getting to the term Neolithic? That sounds like an awfully slow and dull course.
*I could never open a book directly to the exact page with the exact image that someone asked to see, but when asked about what the Ark looks like, Indiana Jones manages to do just that...using a book that has no obvious reason for having been left on the desk in an empty teaching auditorium in the first place.
*How is it that Marion has a hard time even keeping her head up during the drinking competition when we first meet her, but in the very next scene, she's stone cold sober and carrying on a perfectly lucid conversation with Indy?
*They had a fling ten years prior. Just how old was Marion then? Should Indiana Jones be allowed to teach college students? And if he's into young women, why so clueless about the student with "LOVE YOU" written on her eyelids?
*Toht was the guy who was going to use hot metal to brand Marion, but he didn't have the presence of mind to think about the danger of grabbing hot metal? For that matter, where did he go after he cooled his hand in the snow?
*Indy not only fights with the hired Arabians in the market, he shoots one dead and nobody bats an eye? Then, when facing Belloq, there's this little song and dance about how plausible it is to murder another white dude in town? Indy should have been like, "Dude, I just shot a man in the market just to watch him die and you're--BANG! BANG!--next."
*Sallah is a cold one. "Marion's dead." "Yes, I know. But life goes on." Damn, dude. And Indy doesn't even seem offended by his coldness! There's just some sense of "Oh, well".
*When Indy gets to the Map Room, where Belloq has already been, the part where the staff goes is awful dusty. Why? It's been sealed for centuries, and even if it got dusty in the interim, are we to believe Belloq is so sloppy an archaeologist that he didn't wipe off the whole thing?
*Just how was anyone supposed to leave the Well of Souls? There should have been a more obvious means of entrance/exit than the ceiling and bursting through a wall. Or, there should have been some expository information about how when it was constructed, the workers were sealed in and doomed to ensure the safety of the Ark.
*Indy rips Marion's dress ostensibly to set it on fire to keep the snakes back, but he won't even consider parting with his own jacket or shirt? And why does he even have a bomber jacket in Egypt?
*Why did Indy allow Marion and himself to be bound to the pole? He had a bazooka.
I didn't really find any new nitpicks about the finale, though I did finally see that when God killed all the Nazis, He did free Indy and Marion by scorching through their ropes. My friend Emil caught that in his recent viewing, and I was keen to see it. You can read his review and our discussion about the finale in the comments here.
Raiders of the Lost Ark Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#200/1498)
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Bonnie and Clyde --> #200
I prefer the finale of Bonnie and Clyde, but that's it. Indiana Jones's screen debut wins this one handily.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > The Dark --> #200
Not even my love of Maria Bello saves The Dark against the sheer fun of Indiana Jones's first screen adventure.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) --> #187
Hmm. I do enjoy me some John le Carre and this 1979 BBC series is as good an adaptation as his works have received to date, but I gotta go with the livelier Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Raiders of the Lost Ark < Black Orpheus --> #187
Raiders of the Lost Ark is tremendous fun, but Black Orpheus was like visiting an entirely different world. Rarely have I been so mesmerized and captivated by a film from start to finish.
Raiders of the Lost Ark < The Man with the Golden Gun --> #187
I finally got to see both of these on the big screen last year. Raiders of the Lost Ark is easily the superior film, but I have a specific fondness for The Man with the Golden Gun that tips the scales.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Shadow of the Vampire --> #163
I enjoyed both of these quite a bit. My favorite performance between the two is Willem Dafoe as the macabre Max Schrek, and its story interests me more but I'm a bit more taken with Raiders of the Lost Ark as a film.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Marvel's The Avengers --> #152
Where The Avengers upped the blockbuster ante, Raiders of the Lost Ark was designed to stand the test of time because it was designed to be timeless. Those qualities put it over the top here.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Dawn of the Dead (2004) --> #146
Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake is surprisingly fun and enjoyable, and some of its visual effects are actually better...but the nod goes to Raiders of the Lost Ark for its originality.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Frida --> #143
Alfred Molina showdown! No doubt, he's much better in Frida with the far meatier role. There's much to appreciate about both, but I care more about Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Raiders of the Lost Ark > Batman & Robin --> #141
I have a strange Stockholm Syndrome thing with Batman & Robin that I don't even try to defend, but it's not strong enough to keep me from picking Raiders of the Lost Ark.
How the hell did Batman & Robin ever get to #141 on my Flickchart?
Raiders of the Lost Ark was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #141/1498