Hey dear readers, I’m back with another review of the Best o’ Boxes series. This time, with the Indiana Jones saga and yes, you read correctly. I do mean saga; the fourth one does count. As a GIGANTIC fan of the Indiana Jones series, I was super excited when I heard the news of its blu ray, remastered release on September 18, 2012. I anxiously awaited the package’s arrival and was ecstatic when it finally appeared. One of the important factors of this release was the fact that Steven Spielberg supervised the remastering process of all three original films, since Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was already remastered from its previous 2008 blu ray release. This release was such a monumental occasion that Spielberg hosted a screening in September 2012 of the remastered Raiders of the Lost Ark in Los Angeles and had a Q & A session afterwards; oh how I wish I was there.
But onto the actual review! Does the boxset revive the 30-year old franchise or does it deserve to be taken away to be “researched by top men?”
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Ah the classic. The ONE Indiana Jones film that was nominated for Best Picture. There is nothing to complain about with this release. It is absolutely perfect. The colors are vibrant, the shadows are dark, and the film grain is unnoticeable. It may be the fanboy side of me that’s making me think this, but it looks the best out of the three originals. I love how all the colors look natural and real, not overly saturated like a Michael Bay film (no offense to him). I was worried about the film grain being noticeable like on the 2003 DVD version, but thankfully Spielberg, in all his wisdom, removed it and luckily, it didn’t taint or ruin the movie in the process (see how removing film grain improperly CAN ruin a movie with the Predator Ultimate Hunter Edition blu ray and a review that has some captures from the film itself). Now the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound is used excellently here. When Indy is in the jungle or a cave, the satellite speakers are used subtly yet noticeably to create that environment you are witnessing on screen. For example, the sound of the rolling boulder at the beginning of the movie has never sounded as menacing/frightening/intimidating when I watched Raiders growing up, but with this remastered edition, it has the whole room shaking! And of course, John Williams’ score is magnificent and booming! His music, when playing throughout the movie, never overtakes a scene nor is muted by the action on screen; it comes through perfectly in EVERY scene. Now this is definitely the movie nerd coming out, but this experience of Raiders of the Lost Ark has been the definitive experience for me, since I never got the opportunity to see it on the big screen.
Score: Presentation-5 out of 5 / Movie-5 out of 5
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Ah the sequel. Even though it was the 1980s and movie sequels weren’t the norm compared to today, the astounding success of Raiders meant audiences were hungry for more and I’m sure Paramount was thinking the same thing. I didn’t get to watch this entry as much as the other two when I was a kid, but I think it’s still a strong story and worthy of the Indiana Jones title, although most think otherwise. The picture quality is excellent with the second entry and does not disappoint, even with, for example, the scenes in the worship cave, where there’s a lot of red, orange, and yellow colors flooding the screen. Since a lot of this movie takes place in dark caves/caverns/indoor rock things, the difference between the shadows and natural color is very well balanced and no eyes need to be strained in order to see what’s going on, unlike some modern movies (Aliens vs. Predator Requiem comes to mind). There are fleeting moments of saturated colors on screen, but it’s done with a purpose since the color palate for this film is very dry, drab, and dark. The sound quality is top notch and very well remastered. The best example, and probably the most obvious one, is the railcar chase at the end of the film; all speakers and the subwoofer are used purposefully. The front speakers create the sound effects while, sometimes, it carries to satellite speakers, which are mostly used for the ricochets of the bullets and the echoes of all the sounds coming from the front speakers. It’s kind of ingenious to be honest.
Score: Presentation-5 out of 5 / Movie-4.5 out of 5
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Ah the movie that was supposed to wrap up the series. When I was young, I considered this to be better than Raiders and since then, I’ve wisened up and know with my heart and soul that Raiders is DEFINITELY the best of the saga. What was I thinking? Silly me. Much like its predecessors, the picture quality is amazing and something special. The color palate is more balanced in this third entry and there are some moments where colors really pop, like the red flower on Kazim’s grey pinstripe suit as he’s chasing Indy and Dr. Elsa Schneider in Venice. The sound is, again like its predecessors, well done and plays with all 5 speakers and the 1 subwoofer too. The best moment in Crusade that uses all 5.1 speakers is a two way tie. The first is the boat chase with Indy, Elsa and Kazim with other members of the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword. The other scene is Indy going through the Knights Templar challenges at the end of the film.
Score: Presentation-5 out of 5 / Movie-4.5 out of 5
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Ah the four-qel that didn’t live up to ANYONE’S expectations. I argue with those who think this is a bad movie, let alone a bad Indiana Jones movie, even though it follows all the tropes and adventure twists of the other three. I genuinely like this movie, although it definitely drops off after the whole “Nuke the Fridge” scene which could’ve just been cut out completely. But that’s besides the point. How does this movie look and sound? Well, to put it frankly, it looks and sounds great. This movie was made just 5 years ago and holds up expectedly. This specific blu ray release of Crystal Skull wasn’t updated or changed; it’s the same as the 2008 blu ray release. With the modern equipment this film has, it definitely looks and sounds the best, taking into consideration when all four films were made. But I think that’s cheating, since so much hard work and effort went into remastering the three originals. There’s not much more to say, other than, technically, it does look and sound better than the other three.
Score: Presentation-5 out of 5 / Movie-3.5 out of 5
The extensive, impressive and enjoyable special features definitely make this set worth while. Even though some of the featurettes come from the 2003 DVD box set, there are new interviews and new behind-the-scenes footage that any Indiana Jones fan would enjoy! I’ve watched all 7 hours of special features, over a period of a week, and the documentary on how Raiders of the Lost Ark was made is incredible and very in depth, which could make any die hard fan foam at the mouth. Some of the footage used was shot in the 1980s and so the quality varies, but the sound quality is pretty consisent even with the old footage. Now I myself could watch featurettes and documentaries on Indiana Jones all day long, literally, and although I was initially disappointed in only 7 hours of bonus features, all of them are pretty high caliber and most important, fulfilling.
Score: Presentation-4 out of 5 / Special Features-4 out of 5
If you couldn’t already tell, I am very pleased with Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. Spielberg has outdone himself with these four movies in terms of presentation and quality. If you buy this set, you will “have chosen wisely.”
Score: Presentation-5 out of 5 / Collection-4.5 out of 5 / Highly Recommended