From Photoplay (September 1981):
At last. At long last. A movie that brings back all those so-called old-fashioned values that made the cinema what it was but somehow got lost in the deluge of depressing pretentious rubbish that helped to close down cinemas.
Raiders of the Lost Ark, for me, at least, brings back a Lost Art. The art of fun, escapism and pure hokum.
I never thought I'd see a film like this one again....
If you enjoy your movies with lavish doses of terrifying thrills then this is what you've been waiting for. Raiders is a marvellous adventure romp reminiscent of those wonderful cliff-hanging serials served up as Saturday morning pictures for kids. There's also plenty of action for the mums and dads to enjoy as well. Harrison Ford and Karen Allen will have you constantly on the edge of your seats, almost gasping for breath at the speed with which they have to cope with constant dangers.
The effects, the sets, everything is stunningly put together. Ford emerges as a movie matinee of old, with a touch of the Errol Flynn's as he swaggers around complete with a bullwhip as his only weapon.
From the film's incredible exciting start set in an unbelievably trap-infested South American jungle - a sort of cheat death hurdle race - to its startling and quite horrifying climax, Raiders is an absolute cinematic joy.
The team of director Steven Spielberg (Jaws; Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and producer George Lucas (Star Wars; The Empire Strikes Back) pack their movie with a mighty punch. John Williams' music score underlines the action quite superbly.
Never a dull moment...