Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Review
One of the most enduring characters in modern cinema, Indiana Jones has touched the imaginations of millions of people over the past 30+ years since breaking onto the scene with an incredible collaboration – George Lucas (STAR WARS), Steven Spielberg (JAWS, LINCOLN), and Harrison Ford (COWBOYS & ALIENS) came together and created something absolutely marvelous – a series of films made purely for the love of the cinema and the incredible experiences many of us have enjoyed during our lives. All four of the Indiana Jones films released as of this writing (though a fifth film has officially been ‘announced’) are included on a new Blu-ray set from Paramount Pictures, along with a fifth disc which contains a boatload of special features.
I had the pleasure of reviewing another set of Spielberg films and I have to repeat the same gripe I had with the JURASSIC PARK ULTIMATE TRILOGY Blu-ray set, why no commentary Steven? Or is this better – Mr. Spielberg, I greatly admire your works and would like very much to hear you talk about your films at length as I watch them. A commentary of sorts. Please. It would mean a lot to your fans. You don’t even have to do all of your movies. But nothing for Indiana Jones!?! Seriously? Disappointing.
That gripe aside, there isn’t much to complain about on this box set (aside from *ahem* movies two and four *ahem*…) The presentation is beautiful from the first movie to the last. Each disc loads directly to the main menu without a bunch of annoying advertisements (thank you Paramount!), and the special features are all sequestered on a final disc which means you don’t ever have to check them out if you aren’t interested. But if you are, MAN, there is a TON of stuff to enjoy.
And just watching the movies is a joy unto itself. I can remember the first time I watched RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK with my Dad. Our family had like 7 VHS tapes, recorded from a friends house because we lived ‘in the country’, but on one of them was Raiders. I must have watched it 100 times during the VHS era. Temple of Doom is a glorious disappointment – a movie that sought to do all of the things Lucas accomplished with THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (darker, edgier themes and struggles) but sorely failed and became the joke of the franchise (in my humble opinion).
The Last Crusade also brings me father-son memories with my Dad and going to see it with him in the theater when I was 10 years old. I know I didn’t get all of the jokes, I may not have understood ALL the intricacies of the story, but I knew a great movie full of heart. I still do, and you can rediscover it here as well. For those of you who only know Indiana Jones from INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL – please check out the first three movies. Please don’t judge the whole by that inadequate (but still enjoyable) sequel.
Click the links to read our reviews for: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Video: The features on the extras disc are presented in various formats, all depending on the original date they were produced. This disc is a film historian’s (or fan’s) dream.
Audio: The audio is beautifully mastered throughout the disc. Somehow they were able to keep the sound even throughout the entire disc and the features play well together.
On Set with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (57:53) Two parts (From Jungle to Desert and From Adventure to Legend) make up this intimate and fascinating behind the scenes look at the creation of the seminal Indy film. I can’t say enough about this – it is everything you could want and more, mixing final shots with outtakes and deleted scenes, discussions with the actors and crew covering everything from story to location to some general filmmaking.
Making the Films:
The Making of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) (57:48) A vintage featurette from 1981, this standard definition feature is incredibly well done. This is the kind of feature I watched as a child that made me want to be a filmmaker. In-depth without being very repetitive to the other ‘On Set’ featurette, this is well worth your time.
The Making of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (50:52) This is a more recent ‘making of’ featurette. Even though this is the fourth Raiders featurette, they all uncover enough unique information to be worth the time. This one is very much the icing on the cake, with some absolutely phenomenal moments.
The Making of the Temple of Doom (41:09) This feature opens with dueling interviews where Spielberg and Lucas each talking about the inception and evolution of the sequel to Raiders. This is another incredible featurette with some great footage and stories from the creation, shooting, and hoopla surrounding the second movie in the franchise.
The Making of The Last Crusade (35:03) Focused on the father-son relationship that defines this movie and adds another layer of depth we didn’t know we wanted to see, more great interviews and behind the scenes footage are included here. Everyone talks about the fun they had and it is clear on the screen. A great if less intimate view than the previous featurettes.
The Making of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (28:49) Spielberg discusses why he, Lucas, and Ford all wanted to be involved in another Indiana Jones film. Fans really made this happen – and while many of you may consider it an incredibly unnecessary sequel the explanation here does give it more credence and it is fun.
Behind the Scenes:
The Stunts of Indiana Jones (10:56) A simple and brief special feature focused on the myriad stunts presented through the movies.
The Sound of Indiana Jones (13:21) The focus is on the sound (design, mixing) which plays an incredible role in putting us in the moment. There are such nuances here that I think you’ll find it interesting even if you aren’t into the specifics of filmmaking.
The Music of Indiana Jones (12:22) The incredible John Williams continued his incredible career with the breathtaking scores for the Indiana Jones films. This feature includes behind the scenes views of Williams at work and some interesting interview moments.
The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones (12:22) This starts with an overarching discussion of the importance of the work of Industrial Light and Magic and then focuses on the final scene of Raiders and key moments from the other films. I find it interesting how important they seem to feel these practical special effects are when these specific filmmakers (Spielberg and Lucas) are so entranced with using CGI now.
Raiders: The Melting Face! (08:12) An even more intimate look at the melting face scene (or, as I tend to call it, the scene that scared the crap out of me as a kid). Such a cool bit of movie magic.
Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlers (11:46) Available with or without pop-up trivia, this feature focuses on the creatures present in all of the films (snakes, spiders, etc.).
Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (09:58) A worthwhile offering, again with optional trivia mode, focusing on the many locations visited by Jones during his adventures.
Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute (09:15) From the DVD release, Karen Allen (Marion), Kate Capshaw (Willie), and Alison Doody (Elsa) discussed their characters with the AFI’s Jean Firstenberg. This is an excerpt from that event. I’d love to have been able to watch more.
Indy’s Friends and Enemies (10:10) This featurette is focused on the side characters who enhance the authenticity of Indy’s world – focusing on the women in his life, his allies, and his many enemies.
Iconic Props (09:52) This piece appears lifted from the Crystal Skull original release, and the focus is on the props featured in that film (some of which appear in multiple films). By the way – if you need somewhere to store any of these props, I’m sure we could find a place.
The Effects of Indy (22:34) More special effects discussion, this time focusing primarily on the Crystal Skull. This one discusses the differences of working with computer effects instead of miniatures and practical effects as in the first three films.
Adventures in Post Production (12:36) Again focused on the Crystal Skull, this special feature focuses on the stages of post production in a very general way.
Credits (00:58) Literally the Blu-ray credits featuring the iconic score and imagery from the films. A simple and well-done feature for a nicely put together disc. Well done!