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Steven Spielberg
Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina, Wolf Kahler
Writing Credits:
George Lucas, Philip Kaufman, Lawrence Kasdan

The creators of Jaws and Star Wars now bring you the ultimate hero in the ultimate adventure.

Join the legendary hero Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in one of the greatest screen adventures of all time with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Accompanied by his feisty, independent ex-flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the two-fisted archeologist embarks on a thrilling quest to locate the mystical Ark of the Covenant. Indy must discover the Ark before the Nazis do, and he has to survive poison, traps, snakes and treachery to do so. Explore the darkest jungles of South America, the bustling marketplaces of Cairo, and a top-secret submarine base with Indiana Jones as your guide to adventure.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$8.305 million on 1078 screens.
Domestic Gross
$242.374 million.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 115 min.
Price: $99.98
Release Date: 9/18/2012

Available Only as Part of the “Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures” 5-Disc Set

• Trailers


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures) [Blu-Ray] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 12, 2012)

Back when Raiders of the Lost Ark hit screens in 1981, I felt no desire to see it. For reasons I no longer recall, my then-14-year-old self thought Spielberg movies seemed uncool, and I greatly resisted the movie. I only went because my Dad basically made me go.

Score one for the Old Man! I knew very little about Raiders before that screening but I became totally enraptured with what I saw. Whatever I did or didn’t expect, I surely couldn’t anticipate this, a rollicking adventure that seemed like the perfect movie.

31 years later, I still find it hard to dispel the notion that Raiders offers a virtually flawless flick. Set in 1936, we meet adventurer Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) during a lively sequence in which he nabs an ancient artifact from a South American cave. Back in the States, we learn that Indy also maintains a day job as an archaeology professor. However, his adventures frequently take him from the classroom, and when representatives of the US government come a-calling, he gets a new assignment to seek one of the greatest artifacts of all: the Lost Ark of the Covenant.

Hitler thinks the Ark possesses magical powers, so he orders his forces to pull out all the stops in their hunt for it. Since the US agents don’t want that to happen, they recruit Indy as the best man to beat the Nazis to the punch. His first stop? Nepal, where he goes to find a medallion that will help him find the alleged burial spot of the Ark. This opens some old wounds, however, as he runs into Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), the daughter of his former partner - and also an old flame he jilted a decade earlier.

Despite their problematic past, the pair team up in the search for the Ark and head to Egypt, where Indy reunites with old friend/local helper Sallah (John Rhys-Davies). On the Nazi team against them we find Belloq (Paul Freeman), a mercenary French archaeologist we already met back in South America. He heads a squad that includes a diabolical enforcer named Toht (Ronald Lacey) and other nasties. The movie follows the race between the two groups to discover the Ark and deal with the ramifications that ensue.

One cannot overstate the impact Raiders made on movies back in 1981. It presented a genuine breath of fresh air, a lively and endearing flick that pounded on the viewer with relentless action. However much it battered us, however, we eagerly came back for more. If ever a movie merited being called a “rollercoaster ride”, it was Raiders.

Critics will knock Raiders as unoriginal, and it’s certainly true that the film doesn’t present anything particularly innovative. Really, as the filmmakers freely admit, it gleefully offers a then-modern version of the old movie serials from the 1930s/1940s. Raiders is nothing more than a cliffhanger without the wait between episodes.

However, originality can be severely overrated. Just because you do something different doesn’t mean the results automatically seem interesting. As Disney movies and Bond flicks demonstrate, execution proves much more important than innovation. Maybe Raiders didn’t tread any new ground, but it explored its subjects so incredibly well that it felt fresh.

Make no mistake: in 1981, most of us had never seen a movie like Raiders. Director Steven Spielberg creates the ultimate expression of the adventure flick with an ideal hero and briskly paced action that grabs the viewer and never lets go.

The film’s opening sequence remains possibly its most famous, and it perfectly sets the stage for what will come. A series of “how can things get worse?” challenges, it gets the ball rolling – pun intended – terrifically. Few movies have opened with such an amazing sequence.

That doesn’t mean it’s all downhill from there, though, as Raiders presents a terrific succession of action bits that all seem to top each other. Viewed objectively, none may seem quite as stellar as that opening, but the film nonetheless comes chock full of exciting and rousing moments.

Don’t take Raiders to be nothing more than a random collection of action set pieces without anything interesting to connect them. The film presents a great roster of characters, all headed by Indy himself. Ford was already famous for Star Wars, but here he becomes a true movie star. The first – and really only – actor to break out of the typecasting caused by the 1977’s classic’s success, Ford’s work as Indy showed that he could do more than pilot a starship. Indy makes him more of a classic action hero; without it, I don’t know if he ever would have become a megastar.

Indy remains the perfect hero. He’s one of those guys the women desire and the men admire. He doesn’t play better for one gender or another, as across the board, Indy seems irresistibly and unselfconsciously charming.

I don’t know if anyone but Ford could pull off my favorite moment in Raiders. After one extended battle that leaves him battered, Sallah tells Indy that the Nazis put the Ark on a departing truck. Despite his exhaustion and soreness, Indy slaps his glove and resolutely asks, “Truck? What truck?” This is a hero who won’t give up but who seems delightfully human all the while. Determined but not superhuman, Indy represents the best in all of us.

Ford doesn’t carry the movie alone, of course, and the film’s supporting characters certainly embellish it. Allen’s Marion offers a terrific heroine. Bluntly beautiful but not prissy, she seems spunky and smart and becomes a perfect match for Indy. Has any female lead in an action flick gotten a better introduction than her drinking contest?

Add to that Rhys-Davies’ understated and charming take on the stereotypical sidekick, Lacey’s insidious performance as the leering Toht, and Freeman’s glibly slick but nicely three-dimensional interpretation of the mercenary and you have a great roster of supporting personalities. All make the movie more real despite its cartoony origins, and they become important reasons for its success.

I could go on and on about the magic that is Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that it continues to present a virtually flawless piece of cinematic entertainment. It dazzled me when I first saw it 31 years ago, and it still knocks me out today.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus NA

Raiders of the Lost Ark appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Across the board, the movie looked very good.

Sharpness was strong. The only examples of softness resulted from the source, as some shots – like a few during the opening or at Marion’s bar – have always been a smidgen fuzzy. Otherwise, the film delivered tight, concise visuals. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes weren’t a factor. Print flaws also remained absent. Blacks were dense and deep, and shadows appeared nicely delineated and concise.

Did the image suffer from the use of digital noise reduction? I found that hard to say, but I suspected that if DNR got applied, it was done so in a mild manner. Grain was light most of the time and only became prominent during opticals. Perhaps some DNR lessened grain in other shots, but I don’t see negative effects, as detail remained strong, and elements that often get zapped by DNR stayed intact. For instance, the smoke in Marion’s bar showed up as it should.

Colors looked solid, though I wondered if some changes were made to the palette. The film looked a bit more arid than I expected, and a few shots seemed a little bluer than I recalled as well. On one hand, it’s possible that alterations to the color scheme occurred. On the other hand, it’s also possible that prior representations of the film – those that I’ve watched for the last 28 years on home video – were “off”and the Blu-ray finally got the hues right.

I can’t say what the palette as originally intended should be, as I’ve not seen the movie anywhere other than home video since 1983. (Because both come from the same era, I wouldn’t use the 2012 IMAX reissue as a guide to the “correct colors” – it seems likely that it and the Blu-ray share the same hues.) All I can state is that the colors looked a little different to me – not radically altered, but not the same, either.

Despite some potential concerns with colors and DNR, I still felt quite pleased with the image. This isn’t a case where I’m ignoring the visuals as originally intended and saying “source be damned – it looks good and that’s all that matters”. In this case, I’m saying that while I think some changes may have occurred, I can’t be certain, and I’m not going to fault the image without greater clarity. In addition, I feel that any potential alterations remain minor; nothing glaring or major affected the presentation. This still looked like the Raiders I’ve loved for 31 years.

Let me provide two additional notes related to the transfer. First, many will note that the Blu-ray’s case refers to this film as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Personally, I refuse to use that alteration of the original title, and I’m happy to report that the folks at Lucasfilm didn’t tamper with the credits on this Blu-ray’s transfer; it still comes billed just as Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One bit of digital noodling does occur, however, during the scene in which Indy falls among all those snakes. In the original movie, one could easily see Ford’s reflection in the barrier that kept him from one of the critters. The transfer uses technology to erase that impression. It does so smoothly and works well.

While not quite on a par with modern mixes, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Raiders of the Lost Ark seemed splendid for its age. The movie employed an almost shockingly active soundfield that presented a great deal of auditory information. The score enjoyed solid stereo imaging, and the track offered much localized material. The mix featured a lot of different auditory pieces that were placed appropriately in the environment.

These included a lot of elements from the rear speakers, and quite a lot of this showed stereo surround information. For example, during the runway fight, a plane zoomed distinctly from left to right in the rear, and the shots on the dock as Indy and Marion prepare to board the boat also featured unique elements in the two back speakers. I was surprised to get so much stereo information from the rear. The surrounds added a great deal of information to the track, and they helped make it an engulfing affair.

Audio quality slightly showed it age but usually seemed very positive. The dialogue occasionally was a little hollow, and I noticed periodic examples of awkward looping. Nonetheless, the lines betrayed no signs of edginess, and they mostly sounded natural and distinct.

John Williams’ rousing score came across as bright and dynamic, with great definition for the various parts. Effects also showed a bit of thinness, but not often. The various elements mostly seemed accurate and concise, and those pieces presented surprisingly vivid low-end. The bass of Raiders packed a real punch and helped bring a lot of life to the mix.

Actually, bass response might’ve been a bit too strong, as low-end occasionally threatened to become overwhelming. It seemed like every punch and gunshot and eyelash flutter came with a loud “thud”. This stayed within the realm of acceptability but could lean toward excessiveness. Even with that minor gripe, however, I still really liked this track and thought it added to the experience.

How did this Blu-ray compare with the Special Edition DVD from 2008? Audio sounded more robust and full; the soundscape also appeared more active and involving. Visuals came across as tighter, better defined and more natural. Prior DVDs always looked a bit “off” to me, but this one was much more accurate.

Because it comes as part of a five-disc/four-movie collection, almost no extras show up on the Raiders platter itself. We get both a teaser and a trailer from 1981 as well as a reissue trailer. The last one doesn’t provide a date of re-release, but I’m guessing this was from 1983; if I recall correctly, the movie hit theaters again in the spring of that year.

Note that I didn’t give this disc a grade for bonus materials because of its place in the “Complete Adventures” package. When I review the “Bonus Features” platter, I’ll offer an overall supplements grade.

More than 30 years after its debut, Raiders of the Lost Ark remains one of the greatest movies ever made. It absolutely defines the action adventure and presents a virtually perfect piece of excitement. The Blu-ray boasts excellent picture and audio. Here we get a top-notch rendition of a classic film. Without a doubt, Raiders has never looked or sounded better.

Note that as of September 2012, you can purchase Raiders of the Lost Ark solely as part of this “Complete Adventures” set that also includes 1984’s Temple of Doom, 1989’s Last Crusade, 2008’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and a disc with bonus materials.

To rate this film visit the Indiana Jones Collection review of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main