An homage to the glory days of Saturday matinee adventure serials and back-lot B-movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the most unabashedly enjoyable cinematic events of the 1980s. Packed with breakneck action, a cheerfully absurd plot involving Nazis and lost treasure, exotic locales, and a bit of romance, Raiders celebrated old-school adventure and made it palatable to an increasingly jaded contemporary audience. One of the most ingenious and stylish action films ever made, it became an almost instant classic, turning otherwise stodgy film critics into gleeful children and pulling in millions of dollars from filmgoers who found it the most thrilling theatrical event since Star Wars four years earlier. That Raiders spawned three sequels, a slew of inferior imitations, and settled into the cultural lexicon is a testament to both its initial impact and enduring appeal, as well as the outwardly contradictory notion that originality can spring from a tried-and-true formula.
by Rebecca Flint Marx review