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New Escapist Column! On “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as a Theme Park Ride and a Cinematic Marvel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Given that Raiders of the Lost Ark turned forty years old this summer, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at Steven Spielberg’s defining summer blockbuster.

In particular, Raiders of the Lost Ark is proof that it is possible for a “theme park ride” of a summer blockbuster to also function as a distillation of cinema. Everything in Raiders of the Lost Ark moves with singular purpose towards the same goal. It is a visceral and impressive technical accomplishment, but the craft involved in works in service of big ideas about the power of imagery and iconography. Form and function are indistinguishable, what the film is about becoming inseparable from how it is about it. Raiders of the Lost Ark is a triumph of filmmaking.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

The Batman/Superman Dilemma

It began simply enough. “You like Batman better than Superman,” my girlfriend asserted over dinner a few weeks ago. I couldn’t dipute the claim, but mounted a fairly swift defense of the character as “misunderstood”. That prompted an incredulous response which suggested that I “like Batman better because he’s darker”. That’s an interesting assertion. I don’t believe it’s true – certainly not in my case at any rate. I think the public’s perception of Batman as a more enduring, more fascinating and all round ‘cooler’ pop culture icon that the Man of Steel stems from a whole host of factors, that can’t be succinctly summed up with an observation that one is dark and gritty and the other is light and fluffy. So, why are we fonder of the Caped Crusader that the big blue boy scout?

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Notice how Superman is trying to look half as badass as Batman...

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