Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

The last movie that I watched from my list was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. While I marveled over the brilliant acting and writing, I felt somewhat scarred afterwards. It’s a difficult movie to watch. When I checked to see what movie was next I was relieved. Raiders of the Lost Ark is the perfect movie to watch after being traumatized by Taylor’s performance. Raiders is fun, packed with adventure and humor, and reminds me of my childhood.

The movie, released in 1981, is a classic fantasy-adventure film directed by Steven Spielberg. And it has one of my favorite movie stars from the eighties: Harrison Ford. I loved him in the Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies. It seems that it was always someone’s birthday when one of Ford’s movies was released and a group of us would have a party that entailed going to the theater to catch the latest Harrison Ford flick. Whenever I watch these movies as an adult, I remember these happy childhood memories.

When the four of us sat down to watch this movie, I was shocked to learn that The Better Half never liked Raiders. How in the world can someone dislike Raiders? Even after we finished it, TBH still disliked the film. I can’t explain it. The boys reacted differently to the movie. Miles loved the action scenes and at times was on the edge of his seat.

Run, Indiana, Run!

Run, Indiana, Run!

Atticus agrees with The Better Half and was more entertained by a dust bunny on the floor.


They really need to vacuum.

They really need to vacuum.

I’m with Miles. Even though I’ve seen this movie many times, I really enjoyed watching it again. It had been many years since I sat down and watched it from beginning to end and I still felt like a kid watching it for the first time. And just to prove that the movie is fabulous and that The Better Half and Att are wrong, the film was the top-grossing film in 1981. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four. The success of this film led to three more movies. The film is ranked 66 on AFI’s top one hundred films of all time. Take that TBH and Att.

Up next is another favorite of mine: The African Queen.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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101 Responses to Movie Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark

  1. I’m with TBH. Besides, I never *got* Harrison Ford. Does absolutely nothing for me. Nor for Att, if that pic’s anything to go by.

  2. blueberriejournal says:

    I like the movie, too. It is just a good popcorn entertainment.

  3. cupitonians says:

    Aww. Miles. I have missed his face!

  4. Oh I’m with you and Miles and I always had a bit of a thing for HF – I think I like older men!

  5. Vishy says:

    Loved your review, TBM! Harrison Ford is one of my favourites too. Two of my alltime favourite movies of his are this one, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Six Days Seven Nights’. Have you watched that? I have so many favourite scenes from ‘Raiders…’ – the scene where he is hanging on to a speeding truck; the scene where in the Egyptian city a man twirls his sword many times and the crowd looks at Indiana in anticipation and Indiana coolly takes his gun and shoots the sword wielder and continues with his quest; and the scene where one of the bad guys points the gun at him and there is a shot and Indiana thinks that he is dead, but to his surprise the bad guy drops dead and behind him the heroine is standing holding a smoking gun (a scene which has been subsequently copied millions of times in other movies). Sorry to know that TBH didn’t like the movie much. I didn’t know that ‘Raiders…’ won four Academy awards. That is amazing! Loved the pictures of both Miles and Att 🙂

    ‘The African Queen’ – I love that! Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn – how much better can it get! Can’t wait to read your thoughts! Happy watching!

    • TBM says:

      I have seen Six Days Seven Nights and I did enjoy it. He’s pretty funny in that one. And all the scenes you mentioned from Raiders–classic. My heart really gets going when I watch this film. I love the action and even though I know the ending, I’m still on pins and needles watching. Such a great film.

      Katharine Hepburn is one of my all-time faves. And Bogart. What can I say about him? I’m really looking forward to watching this one again.

      Miles and Att say thanks!

  6. bulldog says:

    I watched this movie again not a month ago and enjoyed it just as much as the first time… one of those movies that is just good fun to watch… I enjoyed all of Harrison’s movies, I think he made the parts…

  7. I’m with you, I adore them although the ending of Raiders is a bit much the lead up is fabulous. I remember receiving a VHS copy of Raiders as a kid it was my only original movie with a box with real cover art etc although looking back I suspect it too was pirated I still loved it and watched it to destruction. I never got star wars though I resisted watching them until I was in my late 20’s before Mrs BC forced me to and I still don’t get the appeal. I still haven’t watched the new ones. Saying that I have called my new camera Luke.

    • TBM says:

      I am relieve that you at least like Raiders. Oh and I remember my first VHS. Not sure I owned this one though. I probably recorded it–shhh, don’t tell. So how did you come up with the name Luke. Is it Star Wars related? I still haven’t watched the latest Star War movies either. For different reasons. I loved the ones from my childhood and felt peeved when the new ones came out.

  8. Not liking Raiders of the Lost Ark?!?! Is that even possible? Did you get a prenup? Man, that might just be a deal breaker.

    I’m happy to read that you have such excellent taste in films and the courage to point out when others are WRONG! LOL!

    Quite the range of films there from Virginia Woolf to Raiders.

  9. I love the Indiana Jones movies!!! No, they are not deep and no, they don’t make me say “wow, that was the best acting I’ve ever seen”, but there is action, suspense, humour, and fun! They are what movies are made for – entertainment :). Oh, and by the way, Harrison Ford is in the movie we went to see on the weekend, Ender’s Game, and he’s still got it!

    • TBM says:

      They are not deep, that’s for sure. But who cares. Sometimes you just need good old fashion fun. I saw a preview the other day for Ender’s Game and was surprised to see him. Glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Gosh, I remember loving Raiders of the Lost Ark–though it’s been decades since I watched it. Glad to hear the boys enjoyed it, as well. How fun it would be to write reviews from the perspective of one of them.

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • TBM says:

      I think it would be easier to write it from Att’s perspective. He’s a typical cat and all he wants is treats, sleep, and love when he’s ready. I think most of his reviews would be: give me more food and turn that loud thing off. I’m trying to sleep!

  11. Rorybore says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! One of my favourite movies trilogies and one of my fave actors. I just love a smart ass I guess. LOL I think Ford deserves major kudos for creating not one, but two of the most iconic film characters of all time. I mean how cool is it that you are Han Solo AND Indiana Jones??!! Hubby and I just recently watched all 3 movies and I still enjoy each viewing.
    But I am very much looking forward to your African Queen too.
    Kathryn Hepburn? And there we stop…

    • TBM says:

      Seriously, I wish I was Han Solo and Indiana Jones. I would settle for just having the money from those movies. He helped make my childhood fun. So many fond memories of going to the theater to see his flicks. I think I saw all of them in the theater except for the last Indiana Jones one.

      I can’t wait to rewatch one of my faves: African Queen. Great dialogue!

  12. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I love it too and would like a whole new series of them.I wonder who could play Indie?

    • TBM says:

      Oh it would be hard to replace Harrison Ford and I’m not up-to-date on all the newest stars. Would be interesting to see who they would cast.

  13. LOL, the reactions Miles and Atticus had to the movie left me giggling. Too cute!

  14. Robin says:

    I’m with you and Miles. I love that movie. It’s lots of fun. There was a recent episode of “The Big Bang Theory” in which one of the characters ruined Raiders for Sheldon (another of the characters) by listing all the reasons why the movie didn’t work. Bah-humbug, I thought. 🙂

    • TBM says:

      I haven’t watched The Big Bang Theory, but I hear it’s great and I’ve been recording them. Now I just need to find the hours to watch it.

  15. I need to watch that movie again. Love it and Harrison Ford!
    Your photos and captions are priceless. 🙂

  16. Caroline says:

    Here comes a shocker – I don’t like it either and to a large extent because I feel a great aversion to Harrison Ford. That shows you how much I love Blade Runner. He couldn’t even spoil it for me.

    • TBM says:

      A great aversion to HF. Wow! Just curious, what is it that you don’t like about him? The first time I watched Blade Runner I wasn’t too impressed. Then I rewatched it with a movie buddy who loved it. After the movie we discussed it and I realized how much I like it.

      • Caroline says:

        I’m not sure what it is. A bit like with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. I just don’t see the appeal, on the very contrary. Tom Hanks is another one of those.

      • TBM says:

        Interesting. TBH can’t stand Ben Affleck or Matt Damon but can never explain why. I guess some actors just rub viewers the wrong way. It’s a good thing there are more to choose from.

  17. I’ve seen this film twice, the first time upon its release in 1981 and the second, during a week-long re-release last year when it played Imax theaters. What was so fresh and fun to me in my youth seemed contrived and riddled with plot holes in my cynical middle age. The film that made no sense to me back then, “Last Tango in Paris”, on some level feels like the story of my life today (sans a shooting death). I commend you for remaining true to your youthful exuberance but mine is about as lost as the ark of the covenant.

    • TBM says:

      LOL. Oh no, you need to get back in though with your youthful exuberance. It’s simple for me, I prefer not to think. Thinking is just too much! I did ruin a movie that I loved as a kid about ten years ago. I think it’s called Cloak and Dagger. I watched that so many times and then as an adult it was on television and I decided to watch it again. Big mistake. The movie was completely stupid. Now I won’t rewatch The Neverending story since I don’t want to ruin it. Luckily it’s not on my top 100 films list.

      • Aside from “A Hard Days Night” and
        “Take the Money and Run” when I see most other films I loved in my youth in middle age, time has taken a toll. One exception was “Mary Poppins”. My mother took me to see it when it was released in 1964. I found my bliss and became obsessed with that British nanny. I craved her in a way that troubled my mother so much I was not allowed to see “The Sound of Music” because it starred Julie Andrews. I was okay with that. I had moved onto Julie Christie’s Lara in “Dr. Zhivago.” My lesbian genie was out of the bottle and was never going back in. About fourteen years ago when my niece was five, I watched “Mary Poppins” again. I no longer wantonly craved Mary, but I recognized a lovely childrens’ film.

      • TBM says:

        Your lesbian genie. I love it. As for Mary Poppins, I loved the movie when I was a kid and I still do. I remember it was always on the television on Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why.

        Now I’ve never seen Dr. Zhivago, but I must watch it soon and see if I develop a crush on Julie Christie.

  18. I haven’t seen Raiders in ages, and usually it’s piecemeal. I catch 15 minutes here or there when it’s on tv. What a treat to watch it from beginning to end. I suspected that Miles would like it and that Att would disdain it. (Cats!) Does TBH enjoy Star Wars? Maybe it’s an anti-Harrison Ford thing. Hmmm…
    Have I convinced you to watch Sherlock yet?

    • TBM says:

      I’ll need to ask about Star Wars this evening and clarify if it’s a Raiders thing or a HF thing. Do you mean the British version of Sherlock or the US one? I haven’t watched the British one yet, but I hear season three should be starting soon. Elementary is okay, but nothing to rave about.

      • Yes, Sherlock is much better than Elementary. (Agree that Elementary is fine, but not rave-worthy.) If you have a chance to catch Sherlock, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Though I can’t promise that Att will find it exciting, but Miles probably will! 🙂

      • TBM says:

        I’m on the fence with Elementary. If it’s on, I’ll watch it, but won’t go out of my way. If I miss it, I’m not heartbroken. I did watch the last episode of Sherlock when a blogger suggested it. Now I’m excited to see what happens next. I’m completely embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read the stories. They are on my 1001 list, so I will.

        It’s hard finding something Att will like. He enjoys acting like a lion and stalking his prey (Miles or me). But we don’t like that game much and it scares me sometimes.

  19. I am so with the better half! I hate that movie!!!! too many snakes. I remember watching it with my next door neighbors I was babysitting. THe oldest was about 8 and he had to cover my eyes when all the snakes came on…

    • TBM says:

      I’m not a fan of snakes at all, and that scene made me cringe–but in a fun way. I’ll do my best to overlook the fact that you are on TBH’s side. I may need a second or two to recover… K, I’m back.

  20. aFrankAngle says:

    I’m with you and Miles!

  21. poppytump says:

    Always loved this one TBM !
    and now I have discovered Waitrose dark ginger spiced popcorn ….. another movie night must be on the cards …

  22. Jo Bryant says:

    I loved Raiders, but then I love Harrison Ford in action mode. As for TBH and Att…sometimes you just have to agree to disagree. Humphrey Bogart is such a favourite of mine. I used to have a wonderful print hanging of him…until the ‘ex’ made me sell it. Should have just got rid of the ‘ex’ earlier and kept the print.

    • TBM says:

      I’m so sorry about the print. I had an ex that I should have kicked to the curb much earlier than I did.

      I love Bogart, but I haven’t seen all of his films. Maybe that should be a project for next year.

      • Jo Bryant says:

        Yes it should. Life has not been lived until you have seen Bogie’s films. I am completely crazy about the man on the screen.

        As for the ‘ex’…I had the chance to do that but at the last moment freaked out at going it alone with 2 kids and did all I could to keep it together. But the truth was that it was already too late.

        I know some people think that you should never give up on a marriage, should stick it out through the bad times, but sometimes you just have to accept that it is over. Even my daughter says that she is glad I left. That the fights, the tension left their mark on her…and he became very controlling.

        A couple of years later the daughter and I were watching old videos. As we watched one from a Christmas morning she suddenly looked at me and said: “OMG Mum.” I asked: “What?” “Rewind,” she said.

        When I did, I saw what she was talking about. The ‘ex’ hated mess of any kind. Christmas and kids = mess right. We both saw that before he spoke I was jumping up to clean the mess so that he wouldn’t get upset. In that moment I knew I had done the right thing because I never wanted to see my daughter do that ever. That she saw it too was an eye opener.

      • TBM says:

        I’m so sorry, Jo. And I’m glad to hear you left him. If a marriage isn’t working, it’s best to end it in my opinion. I know others disagree, but your example illustrates how it affects not just the married couple but the children and the friends and family. A corrosive marriage can cause so much physical, emotional, and sometimes permanent damage. I admire your courage to leave. You deserve so much better and your children want that as well.

      • Jo Bryant says:

        When I look at my daughter today…see the wonderfully strong woman that she is…I know I did the right thing. I would hate to see her even think it is okay to let someone else control how she lives and who she is.

      • TBM says:

        I’m happy to hear that. No one should live in fear, especially fear of their loved ones.

      • Jo Bryant says:

        Agreed. On a happier note…please tell that ‘Watership Down’ is on the list. And ‘The Postman’, a much maligned but brilliant movie.

      • TBM says:

        Unfortunately neither are on the list. I watched Watership last year, though. Haven’t seen The Postman. Kevin’s in that, right?

      • Jo Bryant says:

        Oh yes he is. It got a lot of bad press…but I love the story he tells with it. And it has some great actors in it. Will Patton is great in it. So is Giovanni Ribisi. It even has Ryan Hurst from Sons of Anarchy in it.

      • TBM says:

        I still haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy. That’s on my list along with Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire

      • Jo Bryant says:

        Start at the beginning. I happened upon the first episode by accident and was immediately a fan for life. By far the second best TV show ever.

      • TBM says:

        I’ve heard that. so many rave about it. Must find out I agree. You haven’t led me astray yet with your Agatha suggestions and the Hatfield and McCoys show

      • Jo Bryant says:

        I just loaded up a bunch of ‘Agatha Christie’ books on my kindle…oh bliss to go through them again. Also just saw the newest Thor movie…what a ride that was. I was worried that as a sequel it would not live up to the first, but it ticked all the boxes and a few more. The guy who plays ‘Loki’ is brilliant in it. He is the bad guy you …almost…want to win.

      • TBM says:

        Enjoy your books! Don’t you just love your Kindle? I saw the first Thor, but haven’t seen the sequel yet. I hear it’s awesome. Cheering for the bad guy–this I have to see.

      • Jo Bryant says:

        I adore my kindle…it is almost scary how much actually. Loki as a bad guy has it all going for him. Tom Hiddleston has nailed it performance wise. There is one of the best scenes ever in this with Loki and Thor [and actually a bunch of others], you’ll know what I mean when you see it. As I watched that scene I sat there thinking WOW…this is great scriptwriting…really great scriptwriting done so simply.

      • TBM says:

        Simple writing is not an easy achievement. Most of the time we don’t even notice it, because it’s that good.

  23. lynnsbooks says:

    I didn’t even need the stats! You had me at ‘Raiders’. A top film. I’m totally with you and Miles on this one.
    Lynn 😀

  24. T.F.Walsh says:

    It’s been ages since I watched Raiders of the Lost Arc, but I still love it when I catch it on TV:)

  25. calmgrove says:

    Fun review, thanks! This was such a breath of fresh air when it came out and far in advance (in terms of pace) of any other action movie I’d seen up to that time.

    The premise of the film is preposterous, of course, but the quest for the Ark is one that always inspired adventurers, both fictional and real-life:

    • TBM says:

      Yes, it you think too hard about the actual premise of the movie it will unravel and ruin the fun. Best to go with it and enjoy.

      Thanks for the link. Fascinating!

      • calmgrove says:

        I’m glad you enjoyed the link to the review. The intermix of history and fantasy is one I often find fascinating — except when it’s badly done!

        In the case of the Spielberg film there was enough factual research in amongst the enjoyable action and hokum for me to appreciate. And Spielberg does like to get his background detail right whether it’s action comedy (as with the Indiana Jones movies) or serious historical reconstruction (as in Schindler’s List).

      • TBM says:

        Intermix of history and fantasy–I like the sound of that. Schindler’s List is also on the top 100 movies. However, it’s number 8 so it will be some time before I watch it. I saw it years ago and thought it was well done. Such a painful time in history. E. T. is also on the list–not sure how factual that one is.

      • calmgrove says:

        What? ET isn’t true?! You’ve shattered my illusions…

        Seriously, my pre-teen son — who had already seen it — kept watching me at the end of my first ever viewing to see when I would cry; cruel father that I was I held back on the tears and didn’t give him the satisfaction of blubbing at the right moment. I don’t think that even now, when he’d in his thirties, he’s forgiven me.

        I did blub when watching it on TV in the near past, by the way — I’m not heartless. Shame he wasn’t there to witness it though…

      • TBM says:

        I saw E T when I was a kid and oh boy did I cry. For some odd reason, my family decided to torture me and took me three times to the theater to see it and I balled each time. Then someone gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago. I can’t bring myself to watch it. I know it’s good, but it makes me cry. It’ll be interesting to see how I react when I have to watch it for my challenge. I’m dreading it, actually.

      • calmgrove says:

        Steel yourself. And have the hankies ready. And a shoulder to cry on.

      • TBM says:

        Luckily it won’t be for some time.

  26. Fergiemoto says:

    Raiders is one of my favorites as well, including seeing Harrison Ford in the remaining Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies. I can’t believe how long ago those initial movies came out.
    Oh dear, I’m getting old.

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