Raiders of the Lost Ark

Critics Consensus

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.



Total Count: 76


Audience Score

User Ratings: 825,907
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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 anything? Yes, snakes. The next time we see Jones, he's a soft-spoken, bespectacled professor. He is then summoned from his ivy-covered environs by Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) to find the long-lost Ark of the Covenant. The Nazis, it seems, are already searching for the Ark, which the mystical-minded Hitler hopes to use to make his stormtroopers invincible. But to find the Ark, Indy must first secure a medallion kept under the protection of Indy's old friend Abner Ravenwood, whose daughter, Marion (Karen Allen), evidently has a "history" with Jones. Whatever their personal differences, Indy and Marion become partners in one action-packed adventure after another, ranging from wandering the snake pits of the Well of Souls to surviving the pyrotechnic unearthing of the sacred Ark. A joint project of Hollywood prodigies George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, with a script co-written by Lawrence Kasdan and Philip Kaufman, among others, Raiders of the Lost Ark is not so much a movie as a 115-minute thrill ride. Costing 22 million dollars (nearly three times the original estimate), Raiders of the Lost Ark reaped 200 million dollars during its first run. It was followed by Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1985) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), as well as a short-lived TV-series "prequel." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


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Critic Reviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark

All Critics (76) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (72) | Rotten (4)

  • Entertainment that propels the audience inexorably from one excitement to the next.

    Oct 17, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • It's all done with such a great spirit of high adventure and good humor that you don't even begin to count the corpses... The finale suggests that Ford's Indiana Jones character will soon be back with further adventures, and I'm all in favor of it.

    Jun 12, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Raiders is an assured, relaxed, impressive work. It's almost impossible to resist. It's no more substantial than cotton candy -- but it's easily the best piece of entertainment Hollywood has produced in 1981.

    Apr 25, 2018 | Full Review…
  • This bullwhip-cracking action-adventure launched the series starring Harrison Ford.

    Jul 8, 2016 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark has more size than substance but nevertheless it's a delightful special big surprise package of a movie that should turn Indiana Jones into a national figure.

    Jun 16, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 4, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Raiders of the Lost Ark

  • Oct 18, 2017
    I think for a lot of people, Raiders is their favourite (x) movie. Be that their favourite adventure movie, favourite '80s movie, favourite Spielberg movie, whatever. None of those ring true for me, but it is my favourite Indiana Jones movie. I was a mad fiend for Temple of Doom as a kid, and I've managed to make multiple teachers put the Last Crusade on in class, so I'm quite a fan of the franchise, but Raiders is the most enjoyable to me... I've never even seen Crystal Skull... So maybe it's dishonest to say I'm a fan of the franchise... I'm a fan of the trilogy!
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2017
    You know, I wanted to see this because I mentioned it in my review for Wither. The context in which I mentioned this in that review was to mention a film that 'heavily borrowed' from another film that, obviously, came out prior. The discussion I was having, with myself, in the review was basically talking about rip-offs. And I know what you're thinking, particularly if Raiders is one of your favorite movies of all time. 'Raiders, a RIP-OFF?!?!?! I will KILL you'. I never said Raiders was a rip-off, but there's a film from the 50s, called Secret of the Incas, that Raiders clearly borrowed from. And if you're trying to deny that fact then you must be a fan boy. Heavily borrowing from something that already existed isn't illegal. If you use it as inspiration and you go forth with your own unique story and stylistic choices, then you can use that as a jumping off point to bigger and better things. And you can certainly make that case for Raiders. It took what already existed and added onto it with great characters, great writing and great action. Another reason I wanted to watch this was simply because of the fact that I don't remember watching this film in ages. Like, seriously. I don't have any recollection of watching this after my teens. And if I did watch it when I was younger, then I retained very little of it. I mean, then again, how could I forget the melting Nazi faces, right??? How could ANYONE forget that, particularly when a lot people watched this when they were very young. But, seriously here, what can I say about Raiders of the Lost Ark that hasn't already, literally, been said in the ensuing 36 years since its release. There's nothing that I can add to this film's legend that will highlight something new that someone who's watched this may not be familiar with. Some people might not know this, but the actor who plays Belloq had a fly land on his lower lip and the slide into his mouth during one of the climactic scenes. This guy, being a pro, completely no-sold this fly and just went about his monologue. That might be something that some people don't know. But I only know that because I just noticed it completely out of nowhere. Then I went back in my own subconscious and realized that I saw it in a YouTube video some time ago. I didn't remember that it was this movie until that precise moment. But I digress. There's nothing I can say about this. Harrison Ford is great as the handsome, charming rogue. The film is impeccably scripted, everything that you see happens for a reason. While I knew that this film was violent, particularly for being rated PG, I was still legitimately surprised at how violent some of the scenes actually were and how they were able to get by with a PG rating. I wish the MPAA was as loose with its ratings as they used to be in the 80s. Karen Allen and Harrison Ford have great chemistry. They achieve a balance between antagonistic while being still madly attracted to each other that's difficult to achieve. As I mentioned, there's some top-notch action here as well. The fist fights themselves are simplistic, but effective. And the giant car chase scene would fit in nicely in a Mad Max movie of this era, perhaps it would have been a little more over-the-top, but I still think it would have fit. I'm not going over the story, because then I would be here forever. But, yea, this film was pretty damn fucking great. There's a reason why this is one of the most enduring action adventure films of all time and why it's a film whose influence is still felt today, especially in video games like Uncharted. I'm not gonna sit here and say that this is the best movie ever made, because it's not. But it is a movie that any self-respecting film geek must watch at least once. Then maybe get the special edition DVD and behold at how this film was put together, which would then gain you a new appreciation for the mastery that is on display here. I can't complain in the slightest, I had an absolute blast watching this and I would highly recommend it. Yes, this review totally sucked, but it's Raiders, the movie speaks for itself and there's nothing new I can really say that hasn't already been said. Two thumbs up for this movie, for sure.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 20, 2016
    One of the original "popcorn summer blockbusters." This movie has it all, action, romance, comedy, giant boulders and occult seeking Nazis. Story conceived by George Lucas and screenplay written by the same guy that wrote Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. If that doesn't sell it, then look no further than Steven Spielberg because he directed it. Awesome movie all around and definitely a genre classic. An absolute must see for any movie fan that likes fun.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer
  • Apr 02, 2016
    How can you go wrong here? This is a movie made by the masterful director behind movies like "Jaws" and produced by the man who created "Star Wars". This is a great movie. Maybe even the best movie ever produced in Hollywood. If I could choose to take one movie and put it in a time capsule, I would probably choose this movie. With the great and memorable performance by Harrison Ford and the incredible directing by Steven Spielberg, this truly becomes one of the best character-driven movies I ever seen in my entire life.
    Lasse G Super Reviewer

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