Confessions of an INDIANA JONES Virgin: Allison Watches RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the First Time

     May 24, 2013


First of all, what was the MPAA like in the past?  This movie has a PG rating?  As I heard someone say recently, “PG in the 80s translates to a light R now.”  Nazi faces melt off, a man gets cut into pieces by a propeller blade, there are innumerable corpses and there’s a foul-mouthed broad smoking and drinking … if I was 10 years old I would be losing my mind right now (with excitement).  Actually, my current self was pretty excited, too.  Raiders of the Lost Ark caught me immediately with a classic, old Hollywood shot of Our Hero Indy (Harrison Ford) emerging from the shadows.  The music, the shot — everything was a classic set up of “this is the good guy, and he’s going to save the day.”  What’s not to like?  Then there are three corpses in the first ten minutes.  Bring me some more popcorn.  This just got real.  Hit the jump for why I love snake barbecue. 

raiders-of-the-lost-arkI’m sure some people were expecting me to comment on how schmaltzy some of the acting and writing is in the series, but it actually harkened back to a period of film I love.  It’s simple and a little dated now, sure, but I have to keep coming back to the word classic.  Still, Raiders of the Lost Ark found ways to surprise me, mostly in its violence (that scene after they open the ark.  Here’s a GIF of it. Because whoa).  I also have to applaud the inclusion of a smart and resourceful female character in Marion (Karen Allen), even if she did have to play damsel in distress a number of times to establish Indy’s dominance as the true hero (much as Ford did as Han Solo for Leia — quite a few similarities, since Lucas conceived of both I guess, except here Marion was subjected to a nightgown instead of the slave outfit).

The plot was always going to be a winner — it’s something the late, terrible Zero Hour on ABC tried to replicate but misfired on totally.  As I mentioned in my review of that show, the only thing people love more than conspiracy theories is hating Nazis.  If you can find a way to incorporate both, you have gold (unless you are Zero Hour.  Seriously, how did they go so wrong?)

raiders-of-the-lost-ark-image-02I digress; Raiders was a lot of fun, because it felt a lot like something from H. Rider Haggard meets Johnny Quest.  Plus it was a bloodbath.  And it had a monkey that it killed off.  Honestly, that might have been one of the most shocking, unexpected deaths in any film I’ve seen in several years.  Who kills off a monkey?  Even if he was a Nazi collaborator!

Had this been a one-off movie I would have found it satisfying to leave things here.  I’m not surprised they made spinoffs, but I have no idea where they go from here, so, onward!

Bottom line: I can see why this movie energized audiences in 1981, because it still does it today.  It kept a fast-pace (for the most part) and while you knew Indy would prevail in the end, you had no idea it would come via exploding Nazis.  Nice touch, as was the ending that was a huge dig to bureaucratic incompetence.

Raiders Roundup:

Favorite Character(s): Marion, Indy, Belloq (because he dressed so well, and I just love Paul Freeman), Sallah (John Rhys-Davies, who should have been used more), his kids, and the monkey.

Least Favorite Character(s): Toht

Best Death: It has to be Toht!

raiders-of-the-lost-ark-imageA-ha! Moment: For some reason that snake scene was really familiar to me.  It’s become a trope I guess (or maybe it already was).

WTF? Moment: Why on Earth, literally, does Marion have a bar in Nepal?  Also, I thought that Abner Ravenwood was going to turn out to be an important character, but turns out he’s forgotten almost as soon as he’s mentioned.  Once Marion is on the scene, apparently we have no use for her dad (and neither does she!)

What worked best: Sallah singing Gilbert and Sullivan.

What didn’t work: Indiana Jones doesn’t need to be a professor, and that transition never quite worked for me.  The school scene was hilarious though, with the mooney-eyed girls with “love you” painted on eyelids, but it felt unnecessary.  And if he goes on so many collecting adventures, what happens to his class?  Does he have a regular sub?

Best Quotes: “Bad dates.”


Around The Web
  • Jimmy

    Abner’s dead. Marion tells Indy that Abner died years before the movie started. That’s why you don’t hear about him after Indy and Marion team up.

    • Alan Burnett

      Yeah, it’s called CHARACTER BACKGROUND. It makes the protagonists feel rounded because they have experiences that go beyond the events of the plot. I was a little bewildered by the suggestion that Indy didn’t need to be a professor. His intellectual curiosity is a major motivation for MANY of his actions (going on the trip, not blowing up the ark towards the end), and his conflict with the central villain is based – in part – on their divergent approaches to their field. His cultured knowledge helps differentiate him from other action heroes. If he didn’t have that element, he would be a boring, flat character who is only interested in GOODNESS.

  • Scotty B Goode

    Okay, I understand that you just viewed Indy for the first time, (which is fairly absurd considering your industry of choice) but perhaps you should have kept some of your declarations and assumptions in your head a little bit longer before you decided to run to your computer and type a review “as giddy as a school-boy,” don’t worry, you’ll get that quote once you continue your quest onward towards the Holy Grail.

    First off, nobody had an insidious agenda against the monkey. The monkey, like most animals, eat foods that are left lying around, and this particular animal ate the dates that were poisoned by the monkey’s master in attempt to take out Indy. But thankfully, the monkey got their first and Indy lived on for two more sequels, and, unfortunately a third.

    As Jimmy declared, Abner is dead years before, but Indy and Marion had not been in communication for a while so he was unaware. So yeah, I mean there’s really no point in diving any further into that one, and quite frankly, I’m confused as to why you would even be contemplating his pertinence to the story as it is so clearly spelled out. His only importance was the medallion needed for the Staff of Rah, needed for the map room, which would reveal the resting place of the Ark. He died , therefore the medallion was passed onto his kin, Marion. Boom. End of story. Moreover, she has a bar in Nepal, because I don’t know, maybe that’s where her and her father lived? It is safe to assume that Abner was an archaeologist, or at least in a field similar to Indy’s, so maybe he was out there doing research… or maybe Lucas simply just wanted them to live in Nepal. When you write a screenplay let us know, so we can interrogate you on the origins of each one of your characters.

    And lastly, um, Indy does need to be a professor. Saying Indy doesn’t need to be a professor is like saying Bruce Wayne doesn’t need to be a billionaire orphan so he can’t buy all his gadgets and gizmos. Indiana Jones is an archaeologist. I don’t know if you know any archaeologists, but it isn’t a profession that yields large salaries. I mean, the guy has to have some sort of income, so obviously he is going to do what he loves, or the only thing he can do with an archaeology degree, which is teach, or make a discovery, and in most cases, both.

    What Worked Best: When I was finished reading your review.

    What Didn’t Work: You seeing the movie, because you obviously didn’t get it.

    • Nerdgasm

      you are a dumb fucking cock head, Scotty

      • LetsBeHonest

        For telling the truth?

        That Allison should rewatch the movie, she obviously was too busy eating popcorn to take anything from the movie.

        I highly recommend that to her even she already wrote he review. Having such big lacks of understanding the movie will cause even bigger difficulties watching any further the other movies.

    • Khal

      Did this reply really need to be so snarky? Constructive criticism is one thing, but you’re snippiness just makes you look like some neckbearded nerd asshole who takes this movie just a little too seriously.

      • Scotty B Goode

        Khal, actually it did. Because if you’re going to review a movie that’s been out for, I don’t know, 32 years, the least you could do is a fact check. That is the least you can do, especially considering that there is a wealth of material at your disposable, because again, it’s been out for 32 years. When you write something like this you are doing a disservice to the artists that created it by influencing others to believe inaccuracies, but I’m sure you don’t understand that considering I doubt you have ever attempted to create anything on your own. And I mean, this is a blog about movies, correct? Yeah, so this needs to be taken seriously, because if not, they, or she, doesn’t take this seriously, then this whole website is a wash. This article is an embarrassment, and Collider should be embarrassed that they have a movie-writer who clearly doesn’t know how to interpret movies, or write about them. I’m sorry, but that is the truth.

      • DoobieDave

        “Neck-bearded nerd asshole”…LOL I am going to have to use that one!

    • Juan

      Why don’t you take it easy Champ, sit the next few innings out if you know what I mean.

  • Lance

    Cool review! Raiders is indeed a classic, so I’m glad it held up for you. Will be interesting to see what you think of the following movies…

  • varagor

    Nice article, with just one small correction (sorry for nitpicking) : moonye should be changed to moony.

    • Ozweego

      Why do everyone on the internet feel the need to correct someone’s spelling or grammar, especially after praising the article. You sir are a troll, go back under your bridge.

      • chandler Bing

        Who’re you, savior of damsels on the internet?

      • varagor

        I saw a small flaw in the article, and suggested a correction. I even said I was sorry for nitpicking. If that makes me a troll, please point my way to the nearest bridge.

  • Guy Smiley

    “this is the good guy, and he’s going to save the day.”

    Do I need to add a SPOILER WARNING?

    Funny thing about that… If we want to be technical about it, Indy really only saves the day once in the entire series – in Temple of Doom. He rescues a few people along the way, and saves his dad’s life near the end of Last Crusade, but that’s about it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the whole series (well, not so much Crystal Skull), and Raiders is definitely one of the all-time greats, but Indy never actually “saves the day” much.

  • Cryder55

    You’ve given me the courage to admit I’ve never watched Star Wars.

    • Old Soldier

      As Foghorn Leghorn would say: “I say there’s sumthn’ sorta eeeewwwwwwoooo ’bout a kid who’s never seen Star Wars.” In all seriousness, that’s your homework for this weekend–Watch It!

  • cruzzercruz

    Oh my god, reading all of these will be painful.

    “For some reason that snake scene was really familiar to me. It’s become a trope I guess (or maybe it already was).”

    “Indiana Jones doesn’t need to be a professor, and that transition never quite worked for me. The school scene was hilarious though, with the mooney-eyed girls with “love you” painted on eyelids, but it felt unnecessary.”

    It’s like watching something with someone’s little sister, so you can’t berate her as much as if she were your own.

  • Sean Chandler

    Seriously, how do you get a job writing for a movie blog without having seen any Star Wars or Indiana Jones films?

    Can you list off all of the modern classics which you haven’t seen?

  • Nathaniel Haywood

    Good review! I’m interested to see how she feels about Temple of Doom. I love Raiders and Holy Grail is my favorite (I just love the Ford/Connery dynamic), but I’ve never liked Doom. Maybe she’ll find something there that I’ve been missing…

    (maybe I dislike it because it unreasonably scared the crap out of me as a kid…)

    • Guy Smiley

      “Last Crusade,” I presume? “Holy Grail” is a Monty Python movie.

      Hey, I wonder if Allison’s seen those? Maybe her next “Nerd 101″ project should be watching the Python flicks.

      • Nathaniel Haywood

        Thanks for the correction – had a brain fart there. Monty Python is a great set of movies too! Who knows what else she hasn’t seen…

  • JP

    Other Indy movies aren’t spinoffs. Spinoff is when they go with side story or side character without the main character. Like Star Wars spinoff is The Ewok Adventure :-) Had to mention that because that’s the only thing that bothered me…well 2 things actually, Indy’s proffession allows him to know about archeology and that serves the story and it makes him an ordinary guy. Other than that good read. Glad you’re making discoveries I look forward to reading more.

  • ervin

    i’m still pretty sure she is lying about seeing these films for the first time

  • Phil

    The first line of this article had me facepalming. Didn’t the writer say that she took a film history course in college? How is it possible that they didn’t tell her a thing about the invention of the PG-13 rating and when it took place? Every film buff knows that it happened in 1984 and it wasn’t until the end of the 80s that studios began using it like they do today. PG was very liberal in those days due to the fact that there was no midway point between PG and R. Parents were just as shocked and even more dismayed which led to the push for a new rating. The PG-13 rating. Raiders of the Lost Ark opened in 1981, which explains why it never got this rating.

  • Northern Star

    Indy doesn’t prevail in the end; he spent the entire movie trying to get the Ark away from the Nazis, he failed in that endeavor by being captured, it was God not Indiana Jones who defeated the Nazis, and the U.S. government (rightly) took the Ark and hid it away… he may have got the girl but he lost everything else, although he clearly gained a newfound reverence and respect for the Almighty, which is what saved both his and Marion’s bacon in the end!

  • Hop

    This is sad, just sad. It’s like reading something written by a little kid, except there is nothing original in it…since you knew all this 30 years ago!

    While I DO like these “Virgin” reviews in concept, I think you are going too far.
    How can you say “bad dates” is the best line? Clearly, the best line is “Snakes…why did it have to be snakes?” That and many many other problems do not work for me.

    1 Star.

  • MorganFleurDeLys

    I would like to see the future reviews focus more on many of the classic scenes in the movie. Not one mention in this review of when Indy just decides to shot the guy rather than battle him in the street. In 1981, audiences went NUTS over that.

  • Marlboroliteman

    Can’t wait for The Confessions of a Smokey Virgin: Allison Watches Smokey and the Bandit 2 for the First Time.

  • The Gowen

    I have to agree with many on here who commented disbelief that you have never seen any of these movies. Saying you have never seen ANY of the Star Wars/Indy movies is like saying you have never seen Titanic or Forrest Gump. Maybe you don’t want to admit so seeing them, but considering you get paid to write about T.V and film, I find it hard to believe you have never seen any of these.

  • Jack Inthebox

    Allison, I enjoy your reviews. Keep them coming.

    • Guy Smiley

      Agreed. People are being way too harsh on her. I don’t agree with everything she’s written, but why attack her for it?

      If people are that upset about her not having seen the films previously, or her opinions on them now that she has, then simply don’t read her posts.

  • Pingback: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom Review; Allison Watches TEMPLE OF DOOM for the First Time | Collider()

  • Daniel Ronczkowski

    Honestly I have never watched or been interested in watching these.


  • Pingback: TOP 5: MAN OF STEEL Set Visit, INDIANA JONES Reviews, AFTER EARTH, THE WOLVERINE Set Visit, ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT: Season 4 Review | Collider()