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Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 9.1/10
Reviews Counted: 65
Fresh: 62 | Rotten: 3

Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.

78

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 9
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 2

Featuring bravura set pieces, sly humor, and white-knuckle action, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most consummately entertaining adventure pictures of all time.

audience

96

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 818,417

My Rating

Movie Info

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is no ordinary archeologist. When we first see him, he is somewhere in the Peruvian jungle in 1936, running a booby-trapped gauntlet (complete with an over-sized rolling boulder) to fetch a solid-gold idol. He loses this artifact to his chief rival, a French archeologist named Belloq (Paul Freeman), who then prepares to kill our hero. In the first of many serial-like escapes, Indy eludes Belloq by hopping into a convenient plane. So, then: is Indiana Jones afraid of

PG,

Action & Adventure

Lawrence Kasdan

Oct 21, 2003

$3.1M

Paramount Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (65) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (62) | Rotten (3) | DVD (39)

Yes, it's as entertaining as you have heard. Maybe more so. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, in fact, about as entertaining as a commercial movie can be.

August 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Raiders of the Lost Ark has it all -- or, anyway, more than enough to transport moviegoers back to the dazzling, thrill-sated matinee idyls of old.

August 8, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (3)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The thrills are fully consumed while you're seeing this movie, and it's totally over when it's over. It's a workout. You feel as if you'd been to the desert digs: at the end your mind is blank, yet you're parched, you're puffing hard -- you want relief.

May 27, 2008 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (64)
New Yorker
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a crackerjack fantasy-adventure that shapes its pulp sensibilities and cliff-hanging serial origins into an exhilarating escapist entertainment that will have broad-cased summer audiences in the palm of its hand.

June 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One would think that a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas would produce something better than this giggly pastiche of a Republic serial...

June 28, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (87)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Whether you swallow it or not, see it for a handful of totally unexpected visual jokes, worth the price of admission alone.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite movie. I don't have to tell you why it's great. You know why it's great. Instead, what follows is a list of very personal moments.

February 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Movie Mezzanine
Movie Mezzanine

There is a charm and vitality to Raiders of the Ark, which Spielberg later admitted was "the first movie where I actually shot the movie without thinking".

December 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Harrison Ford embodies the persona of Indiana Jones with perfection and paves him as an iconic hero.

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

This film is a volcano of creative ideas in full eruption -- the modern high action adventure against which all others must now be measured.

August 4, 2013 Full Review Source: People Magazine
People Magazine

Hold on tight, because it starts at full throttle and never lets up.

August 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

impossibly good

October 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

As action adventure goes, it's about the best there is.

September 21, 2012 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Steven Spielberg's rollicking adventure yarn still looks buoyant and dashing after 30 years.

September 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

The boulder has never looked bigger, the guns have never sounded louder and Indy's whip has never cracked sharper than they do here.

September 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

If Lucas is Raiders' guts and Kasdan its head, then Spielberg is its beating heart. Little wonder Part IV is still on the cards.

September 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Raiders is a classic and repeated viewings, especially when presented properly on the big screen, only reinforce this further.

June 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

Breathtakingly efficient, immaculately constructed... This is the ne plus ultra of blockbuster filmmaking.

December 18, 2011 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

It is the classic film [by] Lucas, Spielberg...back before they were replaced by automatons put here by aliens.

May 17, 2011 Full Review Source: Needcoffee.com | Comment (1)
Needcoffee.com

Indy's first adventure is a rip-roaring action masterpiece.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Justifiably one of the most indelible adventure films in cinematic history...

May 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

It's the perfect vacation-time movie: not a serious moment in its whole two hours but so crammed with laughter, thrills and cinematic sleight of hand that audiences will be sorry when it's over.

May 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Lost Ark holds up for many reasons, not least of which is because of Spielberg's consummate skill as a visual storyteller and his ability to draw charged performances from his actors.

May 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark

Swashbucklers were deeply unfashionable at the time when Raiders was made, and it took the talents of the then new golden boy of Hollywood to breathe new life into the genre. With a bespectacled alter ego who is a million miles away from his action man persona like an archaeological Clark Kent, Indiana Jones became an iconic action figure who was often knocked on his backside, played fair only when it suited him and was far more interested than his treasure than getting the girl. Sound familiar? Yes without Raiders, Captain Jack would probably never have existed. Like POTC, this film takes its cues from the golden age of the Hollywood swashbuckler, to the point where Ronald Lacey's sinister yet effeminate secret policeman and Paul Freeman's amoral gentleman rogue could easily have been mistaken for Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet respectively. The action is as superbly handled by Spielberg as always, the truck chase scene being one of the all time great stunt sequences and the wholly unexpected finale that blends religious mythology with gothic horror is fantastic. A perfectly judged combination of slam bang set pieces and humour that makes for flawless family entertainment.
December 26, 2013
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

My love for this great classic is truly beyond words! As a kid, it was a moment of magic for me every time Indy in his iconic adventure gear appeared on screen. Whether it was narrowly escaping a giant boulder of death, or opening a can of whoop-ass when faced with some Nazi bad guys, you could always count on him to deliver some first-rate fun. And there couldn't have been anyone better to execute it than artisan story-teller Steven Spielberg. Nor any better music composer than the legendary John Williams, whose instantly recognizable themes are classics in their own right. Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman and John Rhys-Davies - there's not a single performance in here that isn't totally fantastic. So prepare yourself for a helluva good time. Because whenever Indy whips up some action, it's impossible not to stick around and watch.
August 7, 2013
CloudStrife84
Mike S

Super Reviewer

This is basically one of the all -time greatest action/adventure films ever made. It's also totally cool that it delves into fantasy/supernatural territory as well, as it doesn't feel out of place.

Set in 1936, this loving homage to action/adventure serials of the 1930s and 40s follows Indiana Jones- a college professor and archaeologist who, unlike most people in his profession, is also an adventurer who has no problems getting down and dirty to get the treasures and artifacts he needs.

Called upon by military intelligence agents, he sets out on a globe trotting quest to find and recover the Ark of the Covenant (the chest containing the remains of the Ten Commandments) before the Nazis do, who feel that they will be unstoppable if the Ark is in their possession. Joining him are Marion Ravenwood- his embittered former lover and daughter of his mentor (who was an expert on the Ark), and his comrade Sallah- 'the best digger in Cairo'. Along the way, Jones and Co. have to contend with Indy's rival French archaeologist Renee Belloq (who is working for the Nazis), relentless Gestapo officer Toht, a bunch of soldiers, and a ton of snakes (Indy's biggest fear).

Spielberg and Co. intended this to be just a loving B-movie homage to stuff from the past that they loved. They weren't trying to make an amazing work of art. However, the film was so well done that that is exactly what it became, transcending the level of genre pic to masterpiece of artistic adventure cinema.

Pretty much everything about this film shines: the script is tight, with the characterization and exposition expertly laid out with perfect pacing, the technical stuff like cinematography, editing, and all the effects (yay for no CGI!) are superb, then of course, there's the music. Hands down amazing. The score by John Williams pretty much drives the film, and is probably overall, what really makes it work. While the film does have dialogue, it's actually pretty sparse, with most of the film cruising along via visual storytelling, highlighted by the thrilling music cues.

Harrison Ford is terrific as Indy, and among his most iconic roles, this one's probably the best, and that's taking into consideration that I'm a big Star Wars fan. Paul Freeman is amazing as Belloq, who is a terrific character. Yeah, he's the villain, but he's actually quite layered and complex, and not really that typical of a villain. Basically he and Indy are pretty morally gray, but Belloq is a tad bit darker. Arnold Lacey is friggin creepy as Toht, and he really makes your skin crawl. As Marion, Karen Allen is great, and the character is more than just a pure damsel in distress. John Rhys-Davies is fun as Sallah, and it's great seeing Alfred Molina in his film debut as a guide who helps Indy on a mission prior to the Ark quest.

The film is fun, funny, and very thrilling. I've seen it many times, and it never gets old. Yeah, there's a few cheesy moments, but they mostly add to the charm and enjoyment of things. I got the chance to see this on the big screen, and, let me tell you, it really added to the experience, and made me love this film even more.

If you've somehow managed to never see this, you really must. It's crackling good entertainment, and truly one of the best.
June 2, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

I loved this movie. Loved it loved it loved it loved it loved it. Loved its sense of adventure. Loved the chemistry between Harrison Ford's artifact obsessed Indiana Jones and Karen Allen's headstrong, alcohol tolerant Marion. Loved the clever banter and witty dialogue. Loved the evil villains who were portrayed by actors that made you hate their characters at every turn. Loved the humour that continually made you never take the film too seriously. Loved the car chases, shootouts, and hand to hand fight scenes. Loved the mysticism that revealed itself in the third act. Loved the mystery plot's seemless integration of history, fantasy, and archaeology. Loved Indiana's sidekick Sallah (played by a younger John Rhys-Davies). Loved the fact that no movie collection is complete without this masterpiece from director Steven Spielberg, writer Lawrence Kasdan, and producer George Lucas. This is nothing short of an incredible picture that is without a doubt one of the greatest movie adventures of all time.
April 27, 2013
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

    1. Indiana Jones: This site also demonstrates one of the great dangers of archaeology; not to life and limb, although that does sometimes take place. I'm talking about folklore.
    – Submitted by Adam O (5 months ago)
    1. Marcus Brody: The Bible speaks of the Ark leveling mountains and laying waste in entire regions. An Army that carries the Ark before it... is invincible.
    – Submitted by Adam O (5 months ago)
    1. Sallah: Ah Indy why does the floor move?
    2. Indiana Jones: Give me your torch.
    3. Indiana Jones: Snakes why does there have to be Snakes?
    4. Sallah: Asps very dangerous you first.
    – Submitted by Aaron P (12 months ago)
    1. Marcus Brody: An army that carries the ark before it is invincible.
    – Submitted by Adrian D (13 months ago)
    1. Satipo: Let's go. There's nothing to fear here.
    2. Indiana Jones: [pushes him up against the wall] That's what scares me.
    – Submitted by Cody H (16 months ago)
    1. Indiana Jones: Jock, there's a snake in the plane!
    2. Jock: Oh, that's just my pet.
    3. Indiana Jones: I hate snakes, hate some much.
    – Submitted by Brandon M (18 months ago)
View all quotes (30)

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Foreign Titles

  • Jäger des verlorenen Schatzes (DE)
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark (UK)
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