So I’m doing this thing where I rewatch 80’s Hollywood blockbusters, for science. John Hughes. Disappointing. Ghostbusters holds up. But that’s Bill Murray. (You know, I was watching Ted Cruz’ speech – well, bits of it. And I thought to myself: why am I even able to watch this for a second? I think the answer is: he looks a little like Bill Murray. The eyebrows.) Beverly Hills Cop. Unwatchable. Die Hard. Damn good, after all these years. And on and on, for the sake of science. Finally I got to Raiders of the Lost Ark. On Blu-Ray. I was so looking forward to this one. Haven’t watched it in 20 years. I was sure it was going to be, just as I remembered it, a perfect gem. A love letter to the pulps. The Platonic Form of summer blockbuster fun. It knows what it wants to be, and it is that thing, and that’s fine. And just enough comedy to go with the action. A perfect role for Harrison Ford. Spielberg is a great director. And – it turns out to be … just good. Not great. Dammit. I didn’t love it anymore! Where has my love gone!
I confessed to my friend. Together we had worshiped this film when it came out. He was horrified. No! Raiders is perfect! What action film could be better than Raiders? Ever! What have you done with the real John Holbo?
I thought about it and said I liked Wreck-It Ralph and The Croods way better this year. They’re action films, but put together better.
Those are kids movies, not action movies! And it’s evil and wrong to suggest they could hold a candle to Raiders!
Who was right?
I could list my complaints about Raiders. (Really, it’s fine. I enjoyed it. It’s just not great.) But I’m more curious what you think. Does Raiders have the high status it does because it is, absolutely, a great action movie? Or is it just one of several films – George Lucas, I’m looking at you – that are classics because they enjoyed first-mover advantage. They helped define what this thing is – the summer action blockbuster. Everyone says George Lucas got worse. He didn’t get worse. He just didn’t get any better.
You know another one I watched? Just as a ringer? Excalibur! Worst Merlin ever. You keep expecting to hear ‘ba-pa-pum-ba-ba-pum-pum/ ba-BAH-pa-pum-ba-ba-pum-pum’, then wishing you actually would hear it.