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Indiana Jones- The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Review

“Indiana Jones- The Complete Adventures” is an essential Blu-ray set.

The wait is over. “Raiders Of The Lost Ark,” “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom,” “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade,” and “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” have finally been released together in one spiffy Blu-ray set. Below I will be sharing my thoughts on all 4 films, the video and audio quality of the 4 films as well as every single extra on the set. Enjoy!

It’s been 31 years since “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” was released and it’s still as treasured as it was when people first saw it in theaters. It’s not hard to see why people fell for the adventures of a teacher/archaeologist as George Lucas and Steven Spielberg’s brainchild is a thrilling tribute to the adventure serials of yesteryear. The performances are great across the board, the action is intense (especially the fist fight and car chase), the chemistry between Indy and Marion is electric, and the movie boasts unforgettable images such as the face melt, Indy shooting a swordsman, and the giant rolling rock enclosing in on Indy. Many folks view it as a perfect film and it’s hard to argue with them.

Next up is “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom” (which is actually a prequel to ‘Raiders’). Of all 4 films, none of them is more hotly debated than this one. Some fans love it and think it’s the best of the series, some fans loathe it, while others are merely mixed it. I find myself to be in the latter camp. For me, this is the weakest of the franchise. Kate Capshaw (who plays Willie) is excruciatingly painful to watch as she screams and complains her way through the film. I firmly believe she is the Jar Jar Binks of the series and I stand by that claim. She simply ruins the fun. Another issue that plagues ‘Temple’ is the gross and very dark tone to it. I’m not sure why gross-outs were featured so prominently here, but we get loads of them. Snake  babies coming out of a cut open snake, bug eating, eyeball soup, chilled monkey brain, heart ripping, a man burning alive, crocodiles eating humans, and a giant pit of insects are but a few nasty things seen in this movie. As for the tone, it’s decidedly un-Spielberg and un-Indiana Jones. The film doesn’t feel like the other 3 at all as it tackles topics such as cults and child slavery.

On the plus side, there is still much to admire here. Short Round is a charming sidekick to Indy and the film boasts what are arguably two of the best action scenes in the entire series with the mine cart chase and the sweaty palm inducing bridge sequence at the end.

While a lot of folks find ‘Raiders’ to be the best of the series, I’ve always been partial to “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.” Everything that was great about ‘Raiders’ has been elevated here. There’s more humor, more adventure, more Sallah and Marcus Brody, more Nazi villains, a young Indy (played by River Phoenix), the Holy Grail, more vehicles (tanks, motorcycles, cars, horses, a zeppelin, airplanes, and speed boats to be exact), and best of all, Sean Connery as Indy’s father. As exciting as all of the action set pieces are, it’s the chemistry between Sean Connery and Harrison Ford that makes this movie such a gem. There’s real complexity and characterization to Indy’s character here which is what makes this my personal favorite.

Last up is “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” which unfairly gets a bad wrap. Yes, the gophers, the fridge, the ants, the vine swinging, and the throwaway characters (Mac and Spalko) are better left forgotten, but this was still a fun sequel. How can you not smile seeing Ford back in action as Indy after a 19 year absence? Even more thrilling is seeing Indy reunited with Marion again and learning that Indy has a son (Mutt). Add in a very movie serial story about a crystal skull and aliens and fun references to the past 3 films (including the Ark of the Covenant, the old Paramount logo, and references to Marcus and Indy’s father) and it’s just an all around good time.

Video:

Let’s be honest here, the real reason folks will be looking to upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray will be for the video and audio quality, so I’ll break it all down for you. First up is ‘Raiders.’ Initially, I was a bit worried about this transfer as the first half hour or so wasn’t exactly inspiring confidence. Dirt specs, faded colors, fuzzy shots, and off widescreen border flickers were noticeable here and there. Thankfully, once the setting of the film moves to the desert, it’s all smooth sailing from there on out. All of the desert and sea sequences look so pitch perfect that it’s like watching the film anew.

Next up is ‘Temple’ which looks even stronger than ‘Raiders.’ I was really struck by the clarity of this one. Everything from the stubble on Ford’s chin to the lush jungle greens really stood out to this reviewer. There was some fuzz present in background scenes, but it’s a minor quibble.

Not much else can be said about ‘Crusade’s’ transfer other than you can’t ask for a better transfer. The film looked exactly as I hoped- stunning. Even the dated blue screen shots look impressive in hi-def much to my surprise.

‘Skull’ was the only film previously released on Blu-ray before so I won’t touch on it too much other than to say that it obviously looks the best here as the film is only a scant 4 years old.

Audio:

All 4 films are presented with 5.1 DTS-HD audio tracks and all 4 films sound incredible. You’ve never heard Indy at home like this before. John Williams’ iconic scores, Harrison Ford’s line deliveries, the explosive tank sequence from ‘Crusade’ and the mine cart chase from ‘Temple’ will positively rock your speakers. The folks responsible for these sound mixes simply went all to make these films sound better than ever and they have succeeded with flying colors. French, Spanish and Portuguese Dolby Digital tracks are available here as well.

Extras:
* “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” teaser, theatrical and re-issue trailers, “Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom” teaser and theatrical trailers, “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” teaser and theatrical trailers, and “Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” theatrical trailers 2, 3 and 4 (1 is oddly missing).
* “The Stunts Of Indiana Jones,” “The Sound Of Indiana Jones,” and “The Music Of Indiana Jones” are featurettes that cover (to no surprise) the stunts, the sound f/x, and John Williams’ score.
* “Raiders: The Melting Face!” is a short featurette about the making of the iconic death scene.
* “Indiana Jones And The Creepy Crawlies”- A featurette about the snakes, bugs, and rats that appear in the first 3 films.
* “The Effects Of Indy”- A featurette about the visual f/x in ‘Skull.’
* “Iconic Props”- A featurette about various props primarily used in ‘Skull.’
* “Adventures In Post Production”- A 12 ½ minute featurette about the sound design, editing, and the music in ‘Skull.’
* “The Light And Magic Of Indiana Jones”- A featurette that covers several big special f/x scenes from the first 3 films.
* “Travel With Indiana Jones: Locations”- A 10 minute featurette about the various locals that were filmed at in all 4 Indy films.
* “Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute”- A portion of the AFI Q&A event with Karen Black, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody in which they chat about their characters.
* “Indy’s Friends And Enemies”- The title of this featurette says it all.
* “The Making Of The Temple Of Doom,” “The Making Of The Last Crusade,” “The Making Of The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.”- These 3 in-depth making ofs have been ported over from the DVD sets. If you haven’t seen them before, you’re in for a real treat. Expect tons of cast and crew interviews, alternate ideas planned for ‘Temple,’ location shooting, discussions of scripts, themes and characters, a closer look at certain sequences from these 3 films, etc.
* There is not one, but two “The Making Of Raiders Of The Lost Ark.” The first featurette (from 1981) is the old school one with the usual cast/crew interviews, special f/x coverage, stunt talk, filming certain sequences, etc. The second featurette is a more recent one that delves more into the origins of ‘Raiders,’ casting information, period recreation, and much, much more.
* “On Set With Raiders Of The Lost Ark: From Jungle To Desert”- One of the 2 new exclusive extras for this Blu-ray set. Indy fans will definitely want to watch this one out as it contains glimpses of deleted scenes, new set footage, archival Spielberg and Ford interview clips, footage of Spielberg at work on film, outtakes, and so on. Hands down the best extra in this set.
* “On Set With Raiders Of The Lost Ark: From Adventure To Legend”- The second new extra is essentially the second part of “From Jungle To Desert.” This one dives into storyboards, sets, rehearsals, and more footage of Spielberg directing action scenes of ‘Raiders.’ Near the end, we are treated to a few deleted scenes and outtakes of ‘Temple,’ ‘Crusade,’ and ‘Skull’ with John Williams’ score playing over them.

Summary: Blu-ray sets do not get much better than this. A must have for your collection.

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September 17, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , ,

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