“Indiana Jones, Professor of archaeology, expert in the occult, and obtainer of rare antiquities.” We all know the man, we all know the stories, but now it’s time to reintroduce one of the greatest cinematic icons like you have never seen him before.
On the heels of previous releases of fan-favorites such as the Back to the Future Trilogy, the Star Wars Collection, and Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones is finally getting his Blu-ray debut with Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventure. But is this collection worth purchasing? Or is it merely a cheap transfer to get consumers to dip back in the same well?
From the mind of George Lucas and the directorial eye of Steven Spielberg, Indiana Jones was the quintessential cinema hero. Based off the old serial adventurers from the ’30s and ’40s, Indy was an all-American who could crawl through tombs and save the world – all while convincingly showing off his appreciation for history, and love for molding the minds of tomorrow. Foiling Nazis, rescuing civilizations and trying to unwrap the mysteries of life and the greatest myths in the world… that was the fun part.
Below, you’ll find a breakdown of all the films in the collection, and just how well (or not) they’ve been transfered to the Blu-ray format.
Indiana Jones and The Raiders of the Lost Ark
This is the movie that started it all and it remains the overwhelming fan-favorite. It didn’t take more than three seconds to see this Blu-ray collection was more than just a transfer; it was almost like seeing the movie for the first time. Combine that with HD sight and full 5.1 DTS-HD surround sound for that magnificent opening to the film where we see Indy for the first time: whipping away a revolver from the hands of a would-be assassin, heroically emerging from the shadows and proceeding to outwit centuries-old traps before having to out-run a boulder escaping from a tomb. You could literally replace the original production year of 1981 with 2012, show the Blu-ray, and those “not in-the-know” may not be any the wiser.
The frame-by-frame restoration does wonders for the film. If you are like many and grew up watching the original on television, VHS or even purchased the DVD trilogy set from a few years back, you will instantly recognize the amazing improvement in picture quality. The movie presents a clear, well-defined picture that shows so much detail – especially in dark tombs, pyramids, and other scenes of the like. The desert scenes of Cairo are truly fabulous as Indy, Sallah and Marion make their way around the Nazis trying to locate the Ark.
You will notice off the bat the dense foliage and detail of the jungle scenes, which may remind you of Spielberg’s similar lensing in films like the Jurassic Park: Lost World or the original Jurassic Park. Perhaps the best part of the transfer is Indy in the map room, but all the exterior Cairo scenes are hard to beat – they just add so much clarity, detail and breathtaking colors to the scenes that you do not get in the previous home releases of the film.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
This was probably the most intriguing of Blu-ray transfers, since – due to Temple of Doom‘s darker tones, lighting and surroundings – you had to wonder about Blu-ray’s picture clarity. But ToD on Blu-ray doesn’t disappoint, and like the first film it succeeds in every way with this new presentation. The Temple of Doom added a lot earthier, flesh tones to the palette, and once Indy goes underground at Pankot Palace, you can really get a new experience with all the reddish, fiery beats in the second act.
I always loved the opening scene of this movie, as cheesy as it was – with the theme song (in all its brilliance) reintroducing us to Indy. The Blu-ray presentation adds so much more to the film, giving much more detail to Club Obi-Wan and everyone in it. Willie’s ornate red dress and Indy’s red lapel flower in Shanghai gleam on screen as minor examples of the transfer change. Perhaps the best example of this transfer you do not see in the previous home releases is all the detail in the costumes, asToD has many, when compared to the previous and succeeding films. Favorite scenes such as the mine cart chase, plane escape/crash scene and mine revolt are all brilliantly remastered.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
My favorite of the four films – and the best in the Blu-ray transfer, as well. Out of all the Blu-ray transfer collections I own (The Matrix, Alien, Back to the Future, Jurassic Park Star Wars) this one is the best. I had to view it on two televisions to make sure, but there are no flaws in the 1080p picture. This collection is worth the buy simply for this movie’s re-release. The third acts’ desert chase, the opening with Young Indy and the underground Venice scenes are probably the best examples of where this transfer is so brilliant. Fans will also love close-ups of the Grail diary where they can actually read stuff in the book, which is really cool.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
This one wasn’t anything new. It is the most recent and the only one in the series with a previous Blu-ray credit to its name. The Blu-ray ranks right up there with the rest of the Indy Blu-ray presentations in terms of raw visual excellence. Sure, the story isn’t that great – but it’s no less impressive than the previous three, visually.
What is a Blu-ray collection without the Bonus Features? However, This area of the release is my biggest complaint; the special features are somewhat lacking. Much like the re-release of Jurassic Park, fans who already owned the DVDs will get the same features from those, with only two added behind-the-scenes features on Raiders called “From Jungle to Desert” and “From Adventure to Legend,” all in 1080p HD.
These are great features that offer never-before-seen insight into the film that started it all – but the same kind of added attention to all the movies would have been really cool, too.
As for the sound quality, this collection offers 5.1 DTS-HD and just brings a whole new immersion into the films; you actually feel like you are in the jungles or the crypts and tombs with Indy or his villainous foes. It is quite amazing how much detailed sound separation you get with this latest edition, so if you have the set-up it’s totally worth the purchase.
This set is worth the purchase just to have the original films in Blu-ray, if nothing else. Does it lack in the extras? Yes, and there are no digital copies either, but all in all there isn’t much to complain about.
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Kevin Coll (@WhatAboutKevin)