Just in time for the release of one of the most eagerly awaited films in years comes a new box set of the Indiana Jones Adventures. The problem is that these transfers are not upgrades so, aside from squeezing out a few extra bucks, what’s the point? I’m sure that The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull will add hundreds of millions to the
Harrison Ford is the top selling actor in
Raiders of the Lost Ark brought back the cinematic tradition of the 2-reel serials. These shorts would combine with a newsreel, a cartoon, and a feature film to provide a splendid moviegoing event in the early days of talkies. To those of us too young to remember them, the Indiana Jones saga is a time machine to a much simpler day of good guys and bad guys. While even Spielberg himself admits that Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom was inferior to the rest of the trilogy, even this weaker film provided a historic filmmaking moment. Because of its dark nature and gore elements, the film did not fit neatly into the PG rating. The filmmakers did not want this “family” adventure labeled with R, so the ensuing conflict brought us PG-13, now the most widely used rating on films. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade dared to show us a much more vulnerable hero with the addition of his father. The relationship is a complicated one, but a relationship every father and son can instantly recognize and relate to. Right Dad?
George Lucas has a problem, and there doesn’t seem to be a support group for it. He simply can’t let well enough alone. His special editions of Star Wars have become comedic fodder.
Raiders Of The Lost
All three films are presented in their original aspect ratios of 2.35:1. The enhancement for wide screen televisions is excellent. The prints are immaculate. No evidence of any artifacts or specks will be found. Colors display a vibrancy that defies the age of the films. Blacks are perfectly layered and deep. Flesh tones are reference. The many vistas that provide the backdrop for Indy’s adventure are simply breathtaking. It’s obvious all three films were carefully preserved, and care was taken with the transfers. These transfers appear to me exactly like the set from 2003. I did extensive side by side comparisons and absolutely know these transfers are identical right down to the bit rate.
All three films boast a very well thought out Dolby Digital 5.1 track. While not always very aggressive, this track pays attention to detail. Subtle nuances of the sound are brought to life not by mixing it louder but by placing it appropriately in the mix. This track shows an understanding of what the distinct channels were always intended to be used for. John Williams gives us one of his most inspiring scores, and the production here doesn’t let us down. Don’t you just feel right there with Indy when you hear those marvelous brass overtures? Bass response is superb, and there is no evidence of distortion in any frequency range. Dialog is delightfully well placed. You’ll hear every word. Again, exactly as the set from 5 years ago.
Each film appears on a separate disc this time held in a slim case. Each film has an optional Introduction by Spielberg and Lucas. They each run anywhere from 5-7 minutes long. These pieces include footage, but mostly stuff we’ve heard before from each of them. Both discs contain a trailer for
Raiders contains the following features:
The Melting Face: Who can forget the climatic opening of the
The Creepy Crawlies: Here’s an 8 minute look at the wiggly critters from all three of the Indy films.
Travel With Indy – Locations: One thing is for sure, Indy gets around. Like James Bond, one of the important elements to the Indy films is the stunning locations. In this 10 minute feature we get a look at some of these interesting places and the challenges they posed.
The Last Crusade contains the following features:
Indy Women – The American Film Institute Tribute: Again like Bond, each Indy film features its Indy girl. Kate Capshaw obviously got the role because Spielberg had the hots for her. Can you believe he dumped Amy Irving for that? Sheesh! All three Indy girls participate in panel discussion about the films and women’s roles in general.
Indy’s Friends And Enemies: These films have had their share of colorful characters, and this 10 minute feature looks at the best of them.
As good as these films are, I’m not a fan of the double dipping right now. Yes, I know it’s timed with the new film, but when Crystal Skull comes out near Christmas it will also be available in Blu-ray HD. I would be willing to bet that these films will also make the jump to Blu at the same time. Why buy the same transfers you already own now, only to have a shot at what I’ll bet will be spectacular HD versions in less than a year. Makes no sense for what little extras you get here. If you already have the 2003 set and you’re planning to hold off for the HD versions, “You have chosen wisely”.