by Jim Ridley
The reason people sometimes say “popular entertainment” as if it were something any factory line could produce is because Steven Spielberg makes it look so effortless. Trust the kids who spent their entire adolescence trying to re-create Raiders of the Lost Ark shot for shot: It ain’t.
Children of the Aughts, imagine walking cold into a sneak preview in 1981, seeing the Paramount logo replaced by a real mountain, and reading that title for the first time. Ten minutes later — 10 minutes of perforated skeletons, booby-trapped caves, runaway boulders and hair-breadth escapes — my brother and I were pretty much convinced we were watching the most awesome movie ever made.
Showing it to my own kids, I was delighted to see how well it stands up, from Harrison Ford’s surly bravado to Lawrence Kasdan’s snappy movie-movie dialogue (“Bad dates”). And the classic setpieces — the truck chase, the market chase, the anything chase — remain a wizard-level instruction in the assembly and pacing of action scenes.
For 1994’s Jurassic Park, Spielberg took a clever Michael Crichton idea — basically the author’s 1973 theme-park thriller Westworld with raptors instead of robots — and made the dinosaur movie every 10-year-old had been wanting to see since the dawn of Willis O’Brien. Raiders is playing Friday through Monday at The Belcourt in a new restoration that’s said to look spectacular; Jurassic Park’s there at midnight Friday and Saturday. See ’em both, for the popcorn-movie double feature of a lifetime.