One would think that a collaboration between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas would produce something better than this giggly pastiche of a Republic serial, but then again maybe not: their gadget-freak aesthetics and propensity for instant gratification seem to reinforce each other. Harrison Ford is a swashbuckling archaeologist, Karen Allen is his girl; together they battle the Nazis for possession of the Ark of the Covenant. Spielberg, who directed, knows a lot about action cutting but nothing about narrative rhythm: this 1981 film travels fast and straight down a linear plot, and the ceaseless rush quickly becomes monotonous. The body count is somewhere on the far side of Dawn of the Dead, but with no sign of Romero's underlying moral seriousness: when a hero is twice given a choice between saving the booty and the woman he loves and chooses the booty both times, I have to wonder what makes him different from the Nazis he's fighting. But God, Spielberg tells us with dumbfounding literalness, is on his side.
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