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Featured Blu-ray Review: Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures

September 17th, 2012

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

Indiana Jones makes its Blu-ray debut this week in a massive five-disc box set. I swear I've reviewed all four films in the past, but I can only find the review for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Since this is one of the most famous franchises of all time, and it has been released on the home market repeatedly, I think I can spend less time talking about the movies and more about the Blu-rays.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The film that started it all. Raiders of the Lost Ark is an homage to treasure hunter adventure serials and has Indiana Jones trying to find the Ark of the Covenant to prevent the Nazis from getting it and using the power within to conquer the world. He gets help from Sallah, one of his most trusted friends, and Marion, whose relationship with Indiana is a little more complicated. The trio travel around the world trying to uncover clues and avoid countless traps, while fighting Nazis along the way. It is one of the best adventure movies of all time and really the only downside of the movie is the vast number of really bad films that tried to copy it. Okay, Marion had to get rescued a couple times, which is a really lame cliché, especially given how capable she is most of the time.

The Blu-ray

The audio and video quality more than make up for the lack of extras and this is clearly the best the film has looked since its initial theatrical release. The film is 30 years old, but for the most part, you can't tell. It was fully restored and while I don't know how much that cost, it is worth every penny. Hell, it's better than some first-run releases. The details are crisp, the colors pop, the blacks are deep, although some of the darker scenes do eat away at the details. This is especially true early on. The audio is incredible with plenty of activity in the surround sound speakers, while the bass adds heft to the effects. For much of the film, it is reference level quality.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones travels to China and meets up with Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott, a pampered singer, and Short Round, a young kid. After escaping a Chinese gang, they travel to India, where they learn of a series of child kidnappings that the locals think are the result of the Thuggee Cult. It turns out they are right, and the three of them have to help stop this cult. I consider this film to be the weakest in the franchise, but that's hardly an insult. The pacing isn't as strong, neither is the main mystery. Short Round is kind of annoying, while Willie Scott is really annoying. That said, it is still a far better adventure film than most in the genre and the action set pieces are just as thrilling as before. It does have a darker tone to it; in fact, it was one of the films responsible for the creation of the PG-13 rating.

The Blu-ray

The film looks and sounds as good as the first one, with the same strengths and weaknesses. The only trouble comes when the shadow swallows some details. Also, the color palette does get a little heavy on the red later in the movie. It's for aesthetic purposes, but it does mean the colors are not quite as strong. The audio is reference level material with excellent clarity, separation, dynamics, plus a powerful bass.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

After a prologue with an adventure by a young Indiana Jones, we flash forward to the modern day of 1938. Indiana Jones is still hunting for treasure and is still a teacher, although he prefers the former to the latter. He's approached by Walter Donovan, who is on the trail of the Holy Grail, which he believes really exists and can grant immortality. Indiana Jones is less than sold, despite the fact that his father, Henry Jones, was a believer. Walter Donovan already hired a man to search for the missing piece to the mystery, but he went missing and now he wants Indiana Jones to finish what was started. At first he refuses, till he learns it was his father who has gone missing. Indiana Jones, and Marcus Brody, Jones' university colleague, go to Venice and meet with Donovan's assistant, Dr. Elsa Schneider. They quickly learn they are not the only ones looking for the Holy Grail, but some, like Kazim, are trying to protect it from those who would use it for evil. There are plenty of people who want to use it for evil, including the Nazis.

This film is not quite as good as the first, but it is very, very close. It has almost all of the strengths of the first one, plus amazing chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. However, the prologue doesn't quite work as well as it should, while the action doesn't feel as fresh. It is the third film in the franchise, so there is bound to be some familiarity setting in. The leading lady is a huge step up from the second film, but I still like Marion better.

The Blu-ray

There's little that needs to be said about the audio and video, other than to call it near reference level material. Even the minor weaknesses that were in the first two films' transfers are gone here.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

I reviewed the movie here and the Blu-ray here. Unfortunately, none of the extras were ported over to this disc, instead, there is a bonus disc. The audio has been upgraded to a lossless track, so that's a nice improvement.

Bonus Disc

Extras on the first four discs are limited to trailers. However, the fifth disc is loaded with extras, starting with On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is a nearly hour-long two-part featurette. It does include some deleted scenes from the film, as well as outtakes and deleted scenes from the franchise at the end. Making the Films has five sections one for each of the sequels, plus two for the original. (There's a vintage featurette and a retrospective.) In total, there's more than three and a half hours here. The average length of the featurettes in Behind the Scenes is far shorter, but there's also a dozen of them with a total running time of nearly two-and-a-half hours. Featurettes deal with stunts, special effects, music, locations, cast, etc. It's very in-depth.

The Verdict

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures costs $65 on, or about $16 a movie. That's a good price for these movies, especially with how well they look on high definition and the nearly seven hours of extras on the bonus disc. In fact, it is a contender for Pick of the Week.

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Filed under: Video Review, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom