Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures – (Blu-ray Review)

Long time Indy fans (i.e.: me!) have been waiting for what seems like forever now to get their Indy fix in the new Hi-Def format, and Paramount’s nearly flawless boxed set of all four (yes, there are four now) left me slack-jawed! Let’s get started, shall we?


First and foremost, let it to be known that Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite motion picture of ALL-TIME (Spielberg’s JAWS comes in at a very close second!) I have seen this movie many, many, MANY times since it’s original theatrical release back 1981. I know it backwards and forewords, every scene, every line, every music chord, every…well, you get the idea. It’s the movie that truly made me love movies. It’s pure magic, and I remember every viewing like it was yesterday, even the first time I saw it at the movies at the tender age of ten.  With the growing popularity of home video in the 1980’s, I owned (and wore out) my video disc, VHS tape, laserdisc, both DVD boxed sets and now, the Blu-Ray boxed set! The trilogy’s original one-sheets are framed and hanging in my home, one signed by official Indiana Jones artist, Drew Struzan. I had the Well of Souls Playset and all the 3 3/4-inch Indy action figures (not dolls, mom!), records, trading cards, t-shirts, etc., etc…I even dressed up as Indy for a Halloween party when I was eleven or twelve and won the costume contest. A short time later, my Dad took my whip away, because it came a little too close to my sister…uh, yeah, I know this film.



So, how do the new Blu-Ray transfers hold up?


As I mentioned above, after popping in and watching the opening scene of Raiders…I was slack-jawed (and I’ve never used that term before.) I was seeing things in the film that I swear I had never seen before, and this was just the beginning of the movie! The best part is…it has a fine layer of grain, and for the first time in years, it actually looks like a pristine 35mm film presentation, not a standard home-video incarnation! I was so happy, I nearly cried. This is the beauty of Blu-Ray that I had not expected when I first heard the format was becoming popular. I assumed that every film would now look sharp and 3-D like, not the way I want my classic favorite motion pictures to look at all. I was wrong. When done properly, Blu-Ray really can, and sometimes does, replicate a film-like viewing experience. Again, I never expected that. For the first time, watching the Indiana Jones films at home in 1080p, doesn’t feel like a home video viewing! Does any of this make sense? Well, either way, run out and get this boxed set ASAP, you’ll know what I’m talking about…

Original One-Sheet art by Richard Amsel


Each film has been given a stunning 1080p treatment, while Raiders of the Lost Ark had the benefit of a full frame-by-frame restoration, and it shows. Like Indy himself, Raiders has always looked rough and tumble gritty, that’s just the way Spielberg, Lucas and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe intended it to look. If you love this film as much as I do (impossible), you’ll be very, very happy with the beautiful transfer that Paramount has presented us with. I also have to add that Raiders has NEVER sounded so damned amazing! Presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack, poisonous darts, whizzing bullets, whip cracks, thunder claps, screams, car chases, ghost screams, and John Williams now classic score will all make your ears dance with joy. To match the beautiful image quality, the sound is simply…breathtaking. I can honestly say, without hesitation, it was like seeing and HEARING the movie for the first time. Christmas came early this year.


Audio & Video so good, it’ll make your face melt!


How do the other three films fare?


Well, even without giving Indy’s other adventures the same frame-by-frame restoration treatment, they look like they were made yesterday! With sharp resolution bringing out facial features, threads in clothing, and all the fine detail on the bugs, rats, camels, blood, cobwebs, tanks, etc., you’ll experience these adventures like never before! Yes, there’s even a fine layer of grain on Temple of Doom and Last Crusade that, like Raiders, gives them a much deserved film-like presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack on the other films is, again, beautiful. You won’t be disappointed with the quality of these discs.


Available on Blu-Ray Sept. 18th!

Temple of Doom One-Sheet art by Drew Struzan


Speaking of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, I would like to say that, for years, this film has been given a bad rap…and this just isn’t fair. Temple of Doom is a pure and simple escapist adventure, the kind that reminds us of the good ‘ol days of movie magic. Sure, it’s a darker and more violent than the others, but it’s also a helluva lot of fun! I’ve grown up with Temple of Doom and I think that the villain, Mola Ram, is a badass, one of my all-time favorite movie villains. He is pure evil and chews up the scenery like candy. By the way, when this PG rated film was released back in 1984, parents were complaining that it was too violent for their children (I guess the melting faces in Raiders made them think these were kid’s flicks?), anyway Temple of Doom was the film that got the ratings board to institute the now popular PG-13…and the rest is history.


Available on Blu-Ray Sept. 18th!

Last Crusade art by Drew Struzan


While, after all these years, I find it just OK, Everyone LOVES Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade! I guess it’s just a little too comical for me. I know, I know, there’s a raft that falls from the sky in TOD, but this movie is just so much lighter in tone for me than the first two installments. If it had been made with those comic moments from TOD, but more serious in tone like Raiders, I’m sure I would have embraced it more. I mean, they turned Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) into…an idiot! As Indy’s Father, Sean Connery is brilliant casting, but, unfortunately he too turns out to be a helpless boob! And, while not her fault, the female fatale (Allison Doody), is pretty bland. It’s like Indy’s newest adventure was dumbed down and made comical to please audiences. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the film at all. I really do think it’s fun and has some great moments, but at the end of the day, it should have had the combined flavor of both Raiders and TOD. 


Which leads me to the wart on the collection…Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull…


Available on Blu-Ray Sept. 18th!

Spielberg & his Crystal Skull cast


When I first saw this on opening night at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, I had high hopes. When it was over…I didn’t know what to think? I really wanted to embrace Indy’s return to the big screen after so many years, and tried to make myself like the film in my head, trying to convince (lie) to myself that it was a good movie. Well, in the end, I had to face the reality that it was…crap. What happened? Marion Ravenwood (the still beautiful Karen Allen) is my all-time favorite movie heroine, and she did nothing in this flick but smile at the camera! Indy was just a pissed off, grumpy old guy. I usually love Cate Blanchette’s work, but the villains were ridiculous, cartoonish and way over the top. The alien story? WTF?!? As for Shia LeBeouf? I like him. I always have. He’s a fine young actor who got dragged through the coals on this one. And the monkeys? Guess what? I didn’t mind that scene at all! Remember Chewbacca swinging on a vine, doing the Tarzan cry in Return of the Jedi? Well, I don’t remember anyone bitching about that in 1983?! The monkey scene reminded me of the goofy fun a lot of 1980’s movies had, and it was pure classic Lucas/Spielberg. I forgive them. This movie didn’t even have the benefit of looking like the other three Indiana Jones flicks. I realize that Spielberg used his usual cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, for this one…but his style is just totally different form Slocombe’s. I think Spielberg should have re-teamed with his past cinematographer, Dean Cundey. He could have made this outting at least look like a classic Steven Spielberg film. Just look at the difference between Jurassic Park and The Lost World. I rest my case.

All-in-all, Crystal Skull isn’t all bad, but certainly not up to par with the other three. At least Temple of Doom isn’t the black sheep of the set anymore. Being the most recently filmed of the series, the presentation is virtually flawless, and if you happen to be a fan of this film, you should already own the Blu-Ray disc that was released a few years ago.



Making a classic!


Paramount has opened it’s vaults and given us a treasure trove of bonus content that would make Indiana Jones drool. While each film is accompanied by it’s teaser and theatrical trailer(s), there are hours of  entertaining bonus features on the fifth bonus disc. A lot of these special features have been imported over from the previous DVD incarnations, but some haven’t, so hold onto those DVD’s if you want to have them all. I have to say; I watched (and re-watched) every bonus feature on this disc and I was fully immersed in the world of Indy…I even watched all of the Crystal Skull content and smiled. You’ll feel like a fly on the wall as Spileberg is seen directing the cast and crew throughout the various films. There’s deleted scenes, alternate takes, etc. So much to like here…


Disc 5—Bonus Features

Bonus features are presented in standard and high definition (as indicated below) in English with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

  • NEW – On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • From Jungle to Desert
    • From Adventure to Legend


  • Making the Films
    • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary previously unavailable on DVD)
    • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade



Disc 5—Bonus Features (cont’d)

    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
  • Behind the Scenes
    • The Stunts of Indiana Jones
    • The Sound of Indiana Jones
    • The Music of Indiana Jones
    • The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
    • Raiders: The Melting Face!
    • Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlies (with optional pop-ups)
    • Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
    • Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
    • Indy’s Friends and Enemies
    • Iconic Props (Crystal Skull) (HD)
    • The Effects of Indy (Crystal Skull) (HD)
    • Adventures in Post Production (Crystal Skull) (HD)


The bonus features are packaged in a digibook case and housed in a sleek hard cardboard slipcover with each of the five discs being slid in between the pages. I gotta say, I don’t like the way the discs have to be pulled from the slots in the packaging, as they may eventually become scuffed or scratched, even with the standard scratch guard found on all Blu-Ray discs. Standard BD cases should have been used instead, inside the nifty cardboard cover, as I plan on revisiting my favorite archaeologist for many years to come! Hey, here’s an idea, Paramount: give us a limited edition Ark of the Covenant case to house the set?! That would have been fortune and glory.



In closing, if you are an Indiana Jones fan, there is NO reason that you shouldn’t have this pre-ordered by now. It is the best presentation of any of these films that I have ever seen. The picture, sound and the movies themselves are truly mouth watering. This is THE Blu-Ray set of the year. Trust me.


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