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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Dec 17, 2013
Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark

One of most beloved and successful action-adventure movies of all time -- much imitated in style, and never equaled (much less surpassed) -- is "Raiders of the Lost Ark," now somewhat irritatingly re-titled "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark." (Personally, I wish they had stuck with the original naming scheme, which would have seen the terrible first sequel called "Raiders of the Temple of Doom." Instead, we get this half-hearted titular revision, which appears on the packaging...but not in the title sequence.)

Now on Blu-ray, the fast-paced, globe-trotting valentine to Saturday matinee serials of the 1930s and 40s looks crisp and vibrant (though not as good as you might hope; it looks like the DVD release material was simply up-resed rather than rescanned in HD). The characterizations have become a little dated, the sexual politics are creaky, the fight choreography is cheesy, and the acting is almost parodic (if, for this film, mostly effective: What were great lines in 1981 remain great lines, and Harrison Ford's look of exasperation before he yanks his gun and dispatches a towering, sword-wielding adversary is still one of the great improvised moments in movie history). But so what? You can't help loving this film.

What you might not love so much is the lack of special features on this release. All that's offered are the original theatrical trailer, a teaser trailer, and the re-release trailer -- and that's it. These provide a good metric for how much better the digitally remastered film looks and sounds than the battered old prints in their unrestored state, but where is the documentary about how "Raiders" has impacted popular culture and moviemaking alike? Where's the commentary track in which Ford and co-star Karen Allen (who re-teamed for the dreadful fourth installment, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" in 2008) recall the first movie, chat about the most recent, and giggle over the "South Park" spoof? (Such extras do not exist, but they really should.)

This is a case of the material selling itself, and this much is true: Even with no special features to speak of, the very fact that this remastered gem is now on Blu-ray and in high definition is worth celebrating.

"Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark"

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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