Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

The Adventures of Indiana Jones

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
10 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG & PG-13

Starring:
Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry 'Indiana' Jones, Jr.
Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood
Paul Freeman as Renť Belloq
Ronald Lacey as Toht
John Rhys-Davies as Sallah
Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody
Alfred Molina as Satipo
Kate Capshaw as Wilhelmina 'Willie' Scott
Amrish Puri as Mola Ram
Roshan Seth as Chattar Lal, Prime Minister to Maharaja
Philip Stone as Captain Blumburtt
Roy Chiao as Lao Che
Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round
Sean Connery as Professor Henry Jones, Sr.
Alison Doody as Dr. Elsa Schneider
Julian Glover as Walter Donovan
River Phoenix as Young Indiana Jones
Michael Byrne as Colonel Vogel

Special Features:

A new, feature-length documentary of the making of the trilogy

The Stunts of Indiana Jones

The Sound of Indiana Jones

The Music of Indiana Jones

The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones

Original trailers

Weblink to exclusive content

Other Info:
Widescreen anamorphic format
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
THX Certified

Synopsis:
The long awaited Indiana Jones Trilogy finally arrives on DVD. This four disc set includes Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The fourth disc contains all of the DVD extra features.

As if you didnít know, Raiders of the Lost Ark features archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones on a mission to prevent the Nazis from recovering the lost Ark of the Covenant. Along the way he must face enemy spies, an old flame from his past, and snakes. (Why did it have to be snakes?)

Temple of Doom features Indy lost in India with a whiny singer and a young boy. Along the way they discover a village being persecuted by the evil Thugge cult. Indy agrees to help the villagers recover their lost magic stones from the cult and save their kidnapped children. This is easily the darkest film in the series and probably the least loved.

The Last Crusade completes the trilogy with Indiana Jones trying to save his father from the Nazis. Henry Jones Sr. was well on the way to finding the Holy Grail, thus attracting the attention of the pesky Nazis. Itís up to Indy and Marcus Brody to save Henry and keep the Nazis from getting the grail first. But can father and son overcome their differences to save the day?

Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are rated PG, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is rated PG-13.

The Movie:
The Indiana Jones movies are, arguably, the best action movies ever made. They have often been imitated, but never duplicated. Indiana Jones is one of those rare movie characters that have become a cultural icon. Needless to say, the DVDs for these films were at the top of everyoneís wish list.

All of the movies are presented in their original format and they have been restored and digitally remastered. Itís probably safe to say that they look and sound better than they did when the movies first came out.

Despite the packaging that says ďIndiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost ArkĒ, the movie itself still retains the original title. Purists need not worry. The picture is also cleaned up and one of the most noticeable bloopers from the film has been removed. When Indy falls into the Well Of Souls and the cobra opens its hood, you can no longer see the snakeís reflection in the glass. The scene looks better than ever and the removal of the reflection heightens the tension in the scene. Your eyes are no longer distracted. However, the scenes shot in front of blue screen still look like they were shot in front of blue screen. They didnít tinker with it more than necessary, which is good. (The Cairo Swordsman doesnít shoot first in other words.)

The sound is also stunning on the home theater system. For once you can appreciate Ben Burttís sound effects in all their remastered surround sound glory. I get a particular kick out of hearing the Wilhelm Scream in 5.1 Surround Sound!

Overall, this is a first rate presentation of the film and itís a required addition to your collection.

The Extras:
While The Adventures of Indiana Jones is a fantastic DVD set, youíll notice a few things missing. Thereís no commentary (thanks to Steven Spielbergís distaste for doing them), no gallery of stills (and believe me, thereís a lot to see in the LFL archives), discussion of the spinoffs (the comics, novels, TV series, rides, etc.). In short, so much material is missing that I think we can expect another special edition DVD set with more stuff in the future. Lucasfilm is obviously holding back. Thereís also hardly any talk of Indiana Jones 4.

Despite all this, the extras are amazing. They traded glitz and quantity in for quality. What you lack in flashy menus and millions of little extras they make up for in content. I liked the fact that I didnít have to go between a million 5-minute features on every topic under the sun. Instead, itís all put into a series of long documentaries. I much prefer this format. Hereís a closer look at what they have to offer:

A new, feature-length documentary of the making of the trilogy Ė This is really three 45-minute documentaries on the making of each film. They are broken up into Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade. These documentaries are some of the best Iíve ever seen on a DVD. They are entertaining, informative, and they have a ton of behind the scenes footage. Iím a big Indiana Jones fan, so I had already heard a lot of what they discussed in the documentaries. However, the massive amount of behind the scenes footage was filled with stuff Iíd never seen before. You get to see Tom Selleck and Sean Young in a Raiders screen test. You get to see the making of the sets. You see Spielberg and Harrison Ford clowning around. (Ford does a TON of funny stuff behind the scenes in the Last Crusade documentary.) All of it is supplemented with interviews with the cast and crew. I was amazed to see Karen Allen, Allison Doody, and Kate Capshaw (aka Spielberg) on the DVD discussing their roles. It was quite a treat to see them after all these years. (There are even old interviews with River Phoenix and Denholm Elliot, both of whom have passed away.) From the stuntmen to the director of photography, every single person has an interesting story from the sets. These documentaries are absolutely required viewing for any Indy fan.

The Stunts of Indiana Jones Ė What the main documentaries lack in stunt coverage, this more than makes up for. The this video is about 10 minutes long and gives closer looks at some of the bigger stunts in the film like the truck chase, the bridge drop, and other scenes. Great stuff!

The Sound of Indiana Jones Ė This is another 10-minute video on the sound effects of the Indiana Jones films. Ben Burtt talks about all the strange places he found the trademark sounds from the movies. Did you know the sounds of the snakes crawling were from hands squishing cheese casserole? Or the boulder is Raiders from was from a tire rolling down a gravel road? From whip cracks to gunshots to rats, itís all here. I just wished he had discussed the Wilhelm Scream!

The Music of Indiana Jones Ė This is yet another 10-minute or so video on the music of the film. Spielberg and John Williams discuss the origin of the Raiders March, how they scored the film, and more. Itís rare to see such genius at work and this documentary gives you the opportunity to do just that. As a big fan of John Williams, this was a highlight for me. This also happens to be the only documentary on the DVD where Indiana Jones 4 is discussed.

The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones Ė The last of the 10-minute features discusses the ILM special effects for the movies. Dennis Muren talks about the tricks they used to melt Nazis, the miniatures used for the mine car chase, and the invisible bridge in Last Crusade. Itís quite interesting to hear about how they pulled off all these classic effects before the days of computer animation. While I think thereís a lot more here to be discussed, they did a good job hitting the highlights.

Original trailers Ė I found it particularly fun to watch the old teasers for Raiders of The Lost Ark. I was amazed at just how bad they were and how they didnít convey well what the movie was about. Youíll just have to see it to believe it. Itís amazing how different trailers are these days. (Though they all seem to give away key plot points that you probably wouldnít want revealed in advance!)

The Bottom Line:
This is a required addition to your collection. Go buy it now. However, be aware it might be reissued in the distant future (after Indiana Jones 4?)

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