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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - October, 2012

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"Indiana Jones, The Complete Adventures" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

Indiana Jones, The Complete Adventures (Blu-ray)

Synopsis

Dr. Henry Jones, Jr. aka Indiana, is on a lifelong quest – to bring the most famous and important relics of the past out of hiding and into museums.  During his adventures to all the most exotic and mysterious parts of the world, he battles the forces of evil who would possess these artifacts for their power to destroy.  His first search takes him to the Holy Land where he seeks the Ark of the Covenant.  Only the Nazis want it as well for its enormous power.  His next adventure takes him to India and the deadly Thuggee cult who have stolen a powerful talisman from a small village rendering it barren.  To make matters worse, all the children are kidnapped and forced into slavery or sacrificed to pagan gods.  With an unlikely sidekick, and a glamorous singer-turned-heroin, Indy rescues the children and restores prosperity to the village.

In the third installment, Indiana's father is kidnapped as he searches for the Holy Grail; the chalice used by Jesus at the Last Supper.  The Nazi's return as they too seek the Grail for its power to extend life.  Jones must rescue a father he hasn't seen in 20 years and solve the mystery of the Grail at the same time.  In the end, he is put to the ultimate test as he must decide between life and death and the importance of the Grail.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull takes place some years later as Indiana is seemingly enjoying a well-earned retirement.  The Russians come calling however, as one of his colleagues goes missing and he meets a strange young man named Mutt.  As they go looking for their lost friend, Indy learns of the Crystal Skull and its mysterious properties.  Of course the Russians want it too and it quickly becomes a race to the finish.  Once the truth is learned, the outcome is something no one expected.

Specifications

  • Lucasfilm
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 55 mins
  • Temple of Doom, 1984, Color, Rated PG, 1 Hr 58 mins
  • Last Crusade, 1989, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 6 mins
  • Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 2008, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hrs 2 mins
  • Aspect Ratio (all): 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Starring:  Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw, Sean Connery, Shia LaBeouf
  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

I have looked forward to this Blu-ray release almost since the Blu-ray format first appeared in 2006.  The Indiana Jones movies are among the most iconic of adventure films and they've always been among my favorites.  I remember in 1981; the promise of a film produced by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas together.  Both men had already earned a place in cinema history with their individual works and the hype surrounding their collaboration was extreme indeed.  Fortunately, Raiders of the Lost Ark lived up to the hype in every way; and the sequels are all worthy as well.  I agree Temple of Doom and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have a few miscues but they are still loads of fun and I always watch them along with the rest.  Spielberg and Lucas set out to make the ultimate in classic adventure films with a vintage setting, awesome hero, and great stories.  Even though all four chapters follow the same formula, they each have their unique elements and never get boring.  The Last Crusade is the best of all with the amazing interplay between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery; two superb actors at the top of their game.  Since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is more recent, Ford is looking a little old for the part and Karen Allen too.  It's a stretch but still an enjoyable one.  I can't imagine too many film buffs not wanting to own this beautifully presented set.  It receives my highest recommendation.

Technical

The transfers of the first three films are reference quality in every respect.  Despite obvious film grain, they all show tremendous depth and clarity.  Contrast is among the best I've ever seen with bright, detailed highlights and nearly endless blacks.  There is no crush evident at any time.  Color is rich and saturated with realistic palette that's just on the warm side of natural.  There is a feel to these presentations that just isn't there with most modern, CGI-laden movies.  Yes there is the occasional scene with crude effects that are obviously fake (the airship in Last Crusade is a good example of this) but the really fun stuff like car chases and explosions are all real; real stunt men; real destruction; real pyrotechnics; just real.  CGI is cool but I love the analog feel of older films.  There is no visible edge enhancement and the films are completely free of dirt and dust.

Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has more the look of modern flicks with plenty of well-done computer effects and over-the-top action sequences.  It's a blast to watch for sure.  The color palette is natural like the previous discs but I found the image just the tiniest bit softer.  It still looks terrific but it's just shy of reference quality.  Contrast was awesome with a broad dynamic range and great black-level detail in night scenes.

Audio on all four discs is exquisite thanks to tremendous DTS-HD Master Audio encodes.  The dynamic range is extremely wide, so much so, that it sounded better the more I increased the volume.  There is so much low-level detail I never heard before that the movies took on a whole new feel.  The sub is used to great effect and I was particularly glad my Axiom plays down to 13 Hz because the tactility present on these discs is awesome.  The music deserves special mention:  John Williams received Oscar nominations for the first three films and it's easy to hear why.  The London Symphony has never sounded better than on these Blu-rays.

Extras

Bonus features total around seven hours and are all included on a separate disc.  There are almost two hours on the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark alone.  The other films get about an hour each.  Then there are many shorter featurettes on specific elements from the movies like props and creatures (yuck, snakes!).  Of note is the packaging which is a heavy cardboard book with one disc sleeved per page.  A slipcover protects it all and will take only about two standard box thicknesses on your shelf, very nice!