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One of the greatest films of all time 5 Stars

Paramount released the first four Indiana Jones adventures on 4K in a nice boxset back in June 2021. A year later, Paramount is rolling out the individual films in new Steelbook editions, with Raiders first out of the gate. The single disc release is a simple repackaging of the film disc from that boxset. Since all the special features for the films were on a fifth disc in that boxset, this release has nothing except a handful of trailers. So, in essence, the only compelling reason to pick up this release is for the Steelbook, or if you don’t want any of the sequels and can live without special features.

The Steelbook is handsome, replicating very closely one of the theatrical poster designs for the 1982 reissue of the film by Richard Amsel (eagle eyed fans have pointed out the differences on a related thread here at HTF). I love a good Steelbook, and while I enjoy artistic expressions to capture the essence of a film, there’s nothing quite like making good use of original theatrical poster designs, especially when they’re as classic and wonderful as this film’s poster.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Released: 12 Jun 1981
Rated: PG
Runtime: 115 min
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Action, Adventure
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey
Writer(s): Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay by), George Lucas (story by), Philip Kaufman (story by)
Plot: In 1936, archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before Adolf Hitler's Nazis can obtain its awesome powers.
IMDB rating: 8.4
MetaScore: 85

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 55 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: Steelbook
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 06/14/2022
MSRP: $24.98

The Production: 5/5

“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

When Professor Jones isn’t teaching University students the importance of the careful archeological research and patient examination of history, he is Indiana Jones, globe-trotting treasure hunter and guardian of historical artifacts. When he is approached by the U.S. Government to find the legendary Ark of the Covenant – an artifact of significant biblical importance – and thwart the Germans who seek the Ark to create an invincible army, Indiana sets out for adventure. From Nepal to Egypt, he follows ancient clues and markers to track down the treasure while racing against the well-equipped, well-staffed and well-armed bad guys.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is immeasurably entertaining cinema. Spielberg’s directorial boldness and George Lucas’ love of Saturday morning serial adventures as inspiration for the tales by themselves guarantee a good time but add to that another inevitably apropos score by maestro John Williams and Lawrence Kasdan’s lean and adept screenplay, and what comes about is an instant classic. The film is high adventure with an intelligent plot, springing from location to location, mettlesome sequence to sequence, employing fine onscreen talent and gifted behind the camera personnel, and delivering thrills at every turn.

George Lucas, amidst the surge of his original Star Wars Trilogy, conjured the story of a renowned Professor of Archeology equally at ease in the jungles of South America as he is at the head of a classroom at Marshall College, a protagonist with cunning and brawn, intellectual dexterity, and guardian of historical artifacts. A fascinating and loveable character dispensed to the corners of the globe on thrilling quests to discover, understand, preserve, and protect relics of significance. In Indiana Jones, Lucas found a character into which his love of matinee serials (the Doc Savage series, for example) could be gleefully poured. Partnering with his good friend Steven Spielberg, the two men ignited the thrill of adventure in moviegoers the world over.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is unquestionably one the best movies ever made. It is filled with some of the silver screens most iconic images; Indiana running from a giant rolling ball at the opening, our hero landing face to face with a cobra in the Well of Souls, and of course the closing image of a branded wooden container being wheeled into a labyrinthine storage facility. It is a delight from start to finish. Of course, much of what audiences have rightly loved for years are courtesy of Spielberg’s master choreographic hand. Within sequences, particularly high-energy chases, Spielberg weaves together with deliberate whimsy or chaos or elegance (whatever the moment requires), camera movements, actions of characters, even background elements that ebb and flow to create visual music. It is his most magical skill behind the camera, and Raiders shows it off proudly.

Harrison Ford’s portrayal of Indiana Jones is legendary. Refined and rugged, regimented and rogue, Ford imbues Indiana with a sublime balance of opposites making him as much an everyman as a square-jawed hero. Starring as Marion Ravenwood, the love interest from whom Indiana seeks an object to help him on the quest to find the Ark is Karen Allen. Spunky and courageous, Allen gives her character a tough exterior but not so much that she is too far removed from damsel in distress. But rather than a helpless damsel, she is gritty and unforgiving, giving the Marion character more dimension and appeal than this genre often gave ground to. Supporting players are all memorable, from Denholm Elliott’s inquisitive Dr. Marcus Brody to John Rhys-Davies Sallah, both of whom aid Dr. Jones at home and abroad. Indiana’s spoil, besides the small German army, is Paul Freeman’s Dr. René Belloq – a collector of relics who will happily come by his treasure in the most dishonest of ways. And of course, who can forget Ronald Lacey as the bespectacled and malevolent Major Arnold Toht – into whose hand is burned an outline of the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. A fine cast for a marvelous film.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The following is adapted from what I wrote for the Boxset release last year:

I wish I’d been old enough to have enjoyed Raiders on the big screen, but I was too young (6). My introduction to the film series was on VHS. The 4K release has brought up some of the complaints against the previous Blu-ray release and the issues some had with the color timing which hued more to warmer, browner tones compared with the bluer tones of the original DVD release (and what some liked about the VHS or recall from their personal theatrical experiences). I can’t say which is right, only that Paramount’s Ron Smith (who I had the opportunity to interview and ask about the work on Raiders) and team previously worked meticulously on restoring the films and that Spielberg and Lucas were both pleased (and signed off on) the previous Blu-ray release. With that said, this 4K release does seem to have found a middle ground, cooling off the warmer colors without cooling them all the way to what the DVD release gave the world. I can also say that all the screengrabs I’ve seen don’t represent what I see from these films in motion (in this release or previous releases). Overall, I do prefer the look of this 4k release over the Blu-ray release, which I enjoyed.

The [film benefits] from the HDR grading which deepens the blacks and color saturation, giving such wonderful color contrasts.

Film grain is present and natural…capturing the era of filmmaking while revealing of even more sumptuous details. Close-ups are mesmerizing at times. Perhaps my favorite outcome of [this film] on 4K is the contrast and details in even the darkest of scenes. Black levels are beautifully resolved, and the earthy tones of Raiders…are bright without being blown out, lively and dimensional. The map room sequence…is sublime.

Audio: 5/5

Since the disc is the same as the one included in the box set released by Paramount of the first four films, my rating hasn’t changed – but I’ll add some new commentary. Since I watched and reviewed that 4-film collection, I’ve had my home theater upgraded, with a completely rewired system, a new and much more powerful Denon receiver, and an upgrade of my Dolby Atmos speakers to some in ceiling KEF’s. My 5.1.4 system is far superior to what I had before and the power of the Atmos track on this first film was more striking than before.

Cleary the Atmos is a deviation from the original audio design, and inclusion of the original audio would have been nice, but the work done here for the Dolby Atmos track is stunning. The height speakers are uses frequently and often well. John William’s music is heard subtly from above during key moments, and the action sequences make excellent use the overhead and surround channels. Everything from the fire that consumes Marion’s bar to the thrilling and frightening ghostly apparitions during the finale, the sounds are dialed in with superb precision to wrap us up in the spirited adventure.

Raiders, along with the other films, was remixed at Skywalker Sound under sound engineer Ben Burtt’s supervision for the creation of the Atmos tracks to, as the press materials pleasingly state, to remain true to each film’s original creative intent. In other words, Atmos is showcased here to augment the original intent not to supplant it with gimmicks that break that. For that, I am most grateful. Still, the Atmos is giving us a new way to hear this film – and it’s such fun.

Special Features: 1/5

This standalone 4K Disc release of Raiders of the Lost Ark comes with just three trailers, sadly.

  • Teaser Trailer
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Issue Trailer
  • Digital Copy of the film
  • Small foldout replica of the original theatrical poster

Overall: 4.5/5

Paramount released the first four Indiana Jones adventures on 4K in a nice boxset back in June 2021. A year later, Paramount is rolling out the individual films in new Steelbook editions, with Raiders first out of the gate. The single disc release is a simple repackaging of the film disc from that boxset. Since all the special features for the films were on a fifth disc in that boxset, this release has nothing except a handful of trailers. So, in essence, the only compelling reason to pick up this release is for the Steelbook, or if you don’t want any of the sequels and can live without special features.

The Steelbook is handsome, replicating very closely one of the theatrical poster designs for the 1982 reissue of the film by Richard Amsel (eagle eyed fans have pointed out the differences on a related thread here at HTF). I love a good Steelbook, and while I enjoy artistic expressions to capture the essence of a film, there’s nothing quite like making good use of original theatrical poster designs, especially when they’re as classic and wonderful as this film’s poster.

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Published by

Neil Middlemiss

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Sam Favate

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This was originally scheduled for 6/7 but is coming tomorrow 6/14.
 

Dave H

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Released 41 years ago today.

Here's a story.

I was nine when it came out and Star Wars was so much of life (action figures, play sets, etc.). My mom's friend told her she should take me to see it. I was sort of iffy, but went and liked it.

However, maybe it was the second time I saw it, I felt in love with it.

I saw it about a dozen times between 1981-1982 as there was a local "dollar show" which brought back the same raggedy old print (think grindhouse quality - yet in some way fitting for the movie at the time) every several months or so.

Raiders became my favorite movie even over Star Wars and Empire which was saying A LOT.

Still my number one favorite movie today. I own the UHD BD boxset, but might have to grab the steel book at some point.
 

Kent K H

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I'm mainly tempted to get this because the box set is so darned poorly designed and really unattractive, so I hadn't picked it up yet.

But what I'll probably do is wait and see if a more appealing box comes out after Mangold's film is released.
 

KPmusmag

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Here's a story.

I was nine when it came out and Star Wars was so much of life (action figures, play sets, etc.). My mom's friend told her she should take me to see it. I was sort of iffy, but went and liked it.

However, maybe it was the second time I saw it, I felt in love with it.

I saw it about a dozen times between 1981-1982 as there was a local "dollar show" which brought back the same raggedy old print (think grindhouse quality - yet in some way fitting for the movie at the time) every several months or so.

Raiders became my favorite movie even over Star Wars and Empire which was saying A LOT.

Still my number one favorite movie today. I own the UHD BD boxset, but might have to grab the steel book at some point.

My brother had to drag me to see Raiders. He begged me because I could drive and he couldn't. We went to a matinee and loved it so much and were so enthusiastic talking about it over dinner that our parents took us to see it again that very night because they had to see what we were talking about. In time, it came to our neighborhood theater (probably that same grindhouse print) and we would pay $1 and watch it over and over.
 

Colin Jacobson

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Because if you redeem it on iTunes, it has iTunes extras.

So the download comes with extras? Stuff from the bonus disc of the 4-movie set or different stuff?

I never download so I don't know nuttin' about that universe! I just figured a feature-less 4K would be a feature-less download!
 

Robert Crawford

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So the download comes with extras? Stuff from the bonus disc of the 4-movie set or different stuff?

I never download so I don't know nuttin' about that universe! I just figured a feature-less 4K would be a feature-less download!
The iTunes 4K digital has a bunch of featurettes with almost 3 hours of bonus material including 2-3 trailers of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
 

Dick

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I just watched the new 4K and I'm absolutely satisfied with its look and sound now, having found the Blu-ray an unpleasant disappointment. But I'm hanging on to the box set because that is where all the extra features are.
 

Dave H

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I just watched the new 4K and I'm absolutely satisfied with its look and sound now, having found the Blu-ray an unpleasant disappointment. But I'm hanging on to the box set because that is where all the extra features are.

I have not even watched it on my new JVC FP yet, but on my prior one I thought Raiders looked great on UHD BD. Fully agree it's a big improvement from the BD in terms of detail and most especially color! Most of the orange tinted base has been removed.