The Ninjabot

NERD-OFF: What’s the Best Indiana Jones Movie? Randy Says it’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, of course!

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 7:14 am by Randy

Raiders of the Lost Ark Poster When we decided to have a ”Nerd-off” for the Indiana Jones movies, I instantly knew that I would be representing the classic Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’ve been very vocal over the years regarding my love for the first, original, and best of the franchise. In fact, it truly is my favorite movie of all time, and it is, in my opinion, a rare “perfect” movie

The eighties was a great decade for movies, no debate necessary. I was a kid when I first experienced the Indiana Jones movies, and I immediately fell in love with the character. I wanted to be Indiana Jones, what little boy didn’t? Chasing bad guys, swinging over pits, and riding in mine cart rollercoasters sounds like an amazing way to make a living. We have one movie to thank for giving birth to this hero: Raiders.

I’ve had to do a lot of soul-searching to rationalize my love for this American classic. At first, I was quick to believe it was pure sentimentality fueling this passion, but then I realized I was first introduced to Dr. Jones in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. For many years during my childhood, Temple of Doom was my favorite. It has all the “gross” stuff a young boy would be attracted to: bugs, eyeball soup, snake surprise, and of course chilled monkey brains! I wouldn’t see the entirety of Raiders for a few more years, just before Last Crusade was released, and I was in love. Not “down and dirty in a bathroom stall” lust, but real “taking you home to meet my parents” love.

Let’s look at it from a character standpoint.

Indy's Mysterious Reveal

From the first time we’re introduced to Indy on screen, he’s a mysterious man of action, yet we know undoubtedly that he’s in charge, important enough to kill, and powerful enough to inspire fear among his colleagues. He’s fearless and cool under pressure without gimmicks and one-liners. In the opening scene alone, we learn everything we need to know about him. He’s resourceful, dodging every booby-trap and escaping every villain. The best part is we can relate to Indy; he’s a geek like the rest of us in his academic environment. He’s believable, and we’re right there with him every step of the way.

BelloqThe evil French Archaeologist, Belloq, is the antithesis of our Dr. Jones, yet it’s not difficult to believe the two men strayed from the same path. Of course Indy realizes this to be true, and he’s disgusted with himself for that. Their interaction in the Cairo bar shows just how similar their ideologies are, only Indy’s methods differ from his French rival. “You and I are very much alike. Archaeology is our religion, yet we have both fallen from the pure faith. Our methods have not differed as much as you pretend. I am but a shadowy reflection of you. It would take only a nudge to make you like me. To push you out of the light.” Brilliant writing.

Marion and Monkey

Perfection: there’s a freaking adorable Monkey!

Indy’s friend, Sallah represents everything Indy does not have in his life. He’s a stable family man, with a boat-load of kids. Honest, and loyal, yet forced to work with the Nazis at the Tanis dig site, Sallah is an innocent dragged into this adventure, just like the audience.

Indy vs The Cairo Swordsman

Perfection: the Cairo Swordsman scene.

Sure, dysentery played a huge part in how it all went down, but when that huge lug of a swordsman emerges from the angry Cairo crowd, we’re all expecting an epic sword-against-whip battle. Instead, a very ill, diarrhea-stricken Harrison Ford improvises one of the most iconic scenes in movie history. “Why don’t I just shoot the f*@#er?” he pitches to Spielberg. And it worked. In years to come film historians would call it a parable for the US relations with the middle east, when all it really was, was a bad case of the shits.

Vintage Marion Ravenwood MOCThat brings us to the lovely Marion Ravenwood. I‘ve had a crush on this character my whole life, and it stems from a time when I collected the Raiders of the Lost Ark action figures; and her’s was by far the hardest to come by, and therefore the most valuable. As we all know, if something is difficult to obtain, we want it more. This is a metaphor for all the Indy movies. We catch up with Marion years after her sordid affair with Indy. It doesn’t take much dialogue to fill in the blanks what’s happened since they last saw each other. Indy made a mistake, fooling around with the daughter of his mentor, and she’s grown to resent him over the years, especially since she’s stuck running a gin-joint in the middle-of-nowhere Nepal. No matter the negativity she has fostered for Indy over the years, his charm and charisma still brings her around to his side. We willingly follow Indy as he rediscovers his love for Marion, and we’re just as devastated when we believe she dies in the fiery truck explosion that Indy causes. It’s equally as gut-wrenching when Indy finds her still alive, yet has to leave her tied up in Belloq’s tent so as not to arouse the suspicion of the Germans.

Perfection. We’re introduced to Marion in her bar, engaged in a drinking contest in which, she’s the clear winner. This is the perfect setup for her escape attempt from Belloq. She tries to drink him under the table, but forgets to take into account that he’s French! Never drink against a Frenchman, you will lose every time.

When Indy finds the map room, he believes for the first time that maybe the Ark actually does exist, and we believe it too. Regardless of your feelings toward snakes, we all share Indy’s phobia as we are subjected to the deadly asps and cobras inside the Well of Souls. We’re all equally in awe the first time the Ark of the Covenant is revealed; and now we know it’s for real, so we understand the importance of keeping it out of the wrong hands; that’s why we unquestionably believe the lengths Indy will go to to retrieve the Ark.
German Mechanic Fight
Perfection: the epic fisticuffs with the German Mechanic in front of the flying wing, and subsequent truck chase. What are you going to do? “I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go!”

Raiders Truck Chase

No matter how many times Indy gets on top, Belloq is there to knock him down and take away his prize, whether that be the golden fertility idol, his girl, or the all-powerful Ark. Belloq’s arrogance is his undoing, as he believes himself pious enough to conduct the ritual for the opening of the Ark. Dr. Jones has more respect for the artifact, and in the end, that’s what saves his life.

So, Indy rescues the girl, retrieves the artifact powerful enough to destroy the world, and has a renewed belief in the supernatural. But who wins? The Bureaucracy.

Overall, Raiders of the Lost Ark is most realistic of the Indiana Jones saga. Indy is a real man, with real flaws, and he doesn’t always prevail. Folks from all walks of life can identify with him.

This is why I love Raiders of the Lost Ark. You don’t have to agree with me. It’s my opinion, and I believe it with every fiber of my being. I have love in my heart for all things Indy, even Crystal Skull, and especially Young Indy, but I love Raiders the most. Thank you George, and thank you Steven for creating such an iconic character, and inspiring me to want to become a storyteller myself. And most importantly, thank you Doctor Jones, for taking me on the adventure of a lifetime.

Dr. Jones has a Twin

Notice the resemblance?

If you don’t already own the movies, now is the perfect time to remedy that. Buy Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures on Blu-Ray or Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventure on DVD at Amazon through Geek Legacy’s affiliate links right there in order to support the site.

Whatever you do, don’t follow Randy on Twitter. He’ll drink your booze and steal your women. He’s a real scoundrel, you’d like him. Fact.

Randy Van Dyke

Make sure to check back later today for The Mighty Jerd’s entry Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and throughout the weekend for the rest of the series.

    • <Ivan Draago> I will crush you. </Ivan Draago>

      • Haha! I love Temple of Doom too. A lot. So it's not me you have to convince… It's those other guys.

      • Snackbar

        <Clubber Lang> PAIN! </Clubber Lang>

    • Gabriel

      Raiders is my favorite as an adult, but it was a little scary and inaccessible when I was a kid. Seeing faces melt was more frightening than having your heart ripped out while it was still beating, I guess. As a child, I thought The Last Crusade was the best, but probably because I was old enough to understand more of the plot and historical content. And I still haven't seen that crystal skull movie…whatever that was supposed to be about.

    • Samuel

      Raiders is my all time fave. Glad to see it represented do well. All you had to do was post the video of the Cairo Swordsman fight. WIN!!!

    • Kstoltz

      Yeah, not much question in my mind: Raiders was the best one. The rest of the movies have their moments, but they end up running into the same issue of going too far over the top in an effort to one-up the original.

    • What I really want to know is what was the deal with the Ark? All it did was carry the Ten Commandments; why are there ghost thingys in it that make your flesh melt if you see them?!? I disagree that this is the most realistic!

      • Randy

        I meant the most realistic portrayal of characters (ie- not caricatures)

        And I believe the Ark ghosts were just s visual representation of the "wrath of God". Either way, there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief needed for all these movies.

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