English, Spanish, Hebrew, Greek, Portuguese, Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian
Raiders of the Lost Ark
R4 . COLOR . 111 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Oh come on, you need a synopsis for one of the greatest adventure films of all time? Why don’t you just do what everybody else seems to do, skip our lovingly crafted introductory bits and glance fleetingly at the video and audio ratings?!
You’re still here? Goodness! There are people who appreciate the blood, the sweat, the tears – the clichés – we put into these synopsis bits. OK, now I’ll have to try extra hard not to disappoint…
Jones. Indiana Jones.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (or for those who dig historical revisionism, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) is not a film about pillaging a big, biblical boat that went missing somewhere. It does have its biblical stuff, however, for the three letter ‘a’ word in question is actually the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ – a rather natty box which the broken remnants of the ten commandments were carted about in. Apparently.
Why is it it so?
So what’s the big deal about this box? Well there is this little story about it offering a key to invincibility. Thinking this concept rather cool, those nasty-pasty Nazis are quite keen to get their jackbooted mitts onto it to create an unconquerable army, while a number of other people have their own reasons for finding the thing just a tad desirable. Including one Professor Indiana Jones, archaeology lecturer, part-time adventurer, expert in the occult and obtainer of rare antiquities – oh yes, he’s also a tad slitherophobic and is astonishingly adept at keeping his hat on no matter how out of hand a situation may get. Never one to turn down a spot of the old questing, after a request from the US government he’s off after this Ark thingy mighty quick smart, stopping by all manner of exotic climes such as Nepal and Egypt, renewing acquaintances with an old flame and the occasional old mucker as well. Will he protect the side of good from the Nazis? Or will evil prevail, seeing the world overrun with invincible, black-clad Volkswagen drivers?
"I hate snakes!"
It's only a model...
OK, some who actually got to this point may consider me a sacrilegious cur (for mocking the film, not the religious stuff), however the whole essence of Raiders of the Lost Ark is rooted in fun - good old, rollicking, B-movie fun. Corner Mr Spielberg or Mr Lucas in a pub one night and just ask either of them their intention, and it’s odds on you’ll get a response akin to “a desire to make a classic, action-packed Saturday matinee kind of flick”. Or, if by this point in time they’re particularly hammered, you may receive the response “adsrtmuckaclash (hic!) ashunpckd satdeematanay bleurghhhhhhhhhhh”. And dare ask about Star Wars coming on DVD anytime this millennium and you're quite likely to be smashed over the head with a bar stool...
OK, we’re gonna leave the frame-by-frame analysis to the nerdier sites out there and simply cut to the chase – this transfer is absolutely stunning. Indy, in our homes, in 2.35:1, with anamorphic enhancement and looking like it was shot yesterday – how could we ask for more?
Oh no! It's the world's biggest Malteser!
The earthy tones of Indy’s world all come up beautifully, while blacks are absolutely rock solid. Detail oozes all over the place without succumbing to the perils of aliasing, and shadow detail – suffice to say there’s stuff on show here many fans may never have even made out in past incarnations available to the home market. The layer change is noticeable if you’re attuned to such things, although it does clamber by quite speedily.
This really is a superb example of what that painstaking restoration work we keep hearing about can actually accomplish.
Released long before that new-fangled Dolby Digital stuff came along, to receive a direct transfer of the film’s original Dolby Stereo soundtrack would have been just fine and dandy. But no, it seems that when Lucasfilm eventually get off their butts and do something, they enjoy taking the whole shebang to town. Hence, a remixed DD5.1 track is what’s in store for those digging the Jones scene in English, and it sounds spectacular.
One of the most noticeable improvements is in the utilisation of the subwoofwoof, which kicks in frequently to great effect, but never sounds artificial or in any way tacked on. Add to this regular surround effects which also sound like
Ooh, it's a Pet Shop Boys video clip!
they’re meant to be there, and the whole opening up of the Raiders sonic landscape thingy is very pleasing indeed. Synched to perfection – of course – all dialogue is easy to make out in the din, as is the classic John Williams ‘da-da-da-da da da-da’-laden score so many know so well.
Rest assured, anybody bemoaning the lack of the original soundtrack here is certain to shut their yap quick smart upon actually hearing what’s in store.
Pretty much all bonus bits and pieces have been shunted over to their own disc, seeing as how you have to buy a whole four-disc box set even if you only want one of the films on offer - you have to love those $-hugging marketing types, don’t you? This disc does, however, offer up some extremely (intentionally) retro menus, a weblink and that preposterously silly THX Optimiser which even requires special glasses that aren’t supplied.
Crack that whip...
One of the greatest, most action-stuffed B-grade-styled film adventures ever created, Raiders of the Lost Ark is still arguably the crowning achievement in the Indiana Jones trilogy and, most importantly, it’s all just damned good fun. Anybody hesitant about the quality of the audio and video presentations need not be, for they are first rate. It’s just incredibly annoying that the films can’t be purchased separately. Well, at least not yet…
So, if you're a fan then you know what to do - get cracking!
Jack & Sarah "Proving that simplicity is no obstruction to brilliance, this is an ultimately sweet (but not sickeningly so) tale that gives all those bigger English films out there a more than respectable run for their money... "