Wednesday, 21 November 2012




Reviewed by Ian Trussler

Being a massive Indiana Jones fan (second only to Star Wars, of course) I decided to treat myself to the deluxe box set of the Blu-ray release. Here is my run down and opinion of what you get for your money.

Housed in a nice sturdy box made to look like an old leather bound book, as well as the obvious Blu-ray films set (more on those later) you also get a very nice selection of extra artifacts. This is what's included:

Reproduction Grail Diary containing drawings and notes etc as seen in The Last Crusade, but also expanded to include Indy's notes and newspaper clippings relating to all his adventures.

Reproduction Shield rubbing from The Last Crusade

Reproduction photo of young Indy and Henry Jones Senior (Last Crusade)

Reproduction Zeppelin tickets in false names (Last Crusade)

Reproduction Match book from Club Obi Wan (Temple of Doom)

Reproduction Menu for the dinner at Pankot Palace (Temple of Doom)

Reproduction Airline Ticket from San Francisco to Kathmandu (Raiders)

Photo of Indy taken on Sallah's terrace, inscribed by Marion (Raiders)

Set of 4 Postcards featuring behind the scenes pictures, one from each movie

Card Mounted Film Cell - mine shows Indy confronting the cobra from Raiders

On location in Tunisia, Harrison Ford takes a break before Indy's action filming begins again.
On to the movies now, the main attraction here is that the original three films have never been available in high definition before and they don't disappoint in the visual stakes. Each film looks glorious, having been spruced up for this release. Visually not much has changed to the content, Raiders has an updated matte painting from the scene during the truck chase, where the Nazi jeep goes over the cliff. This new moment has been known about for a long time as the UK’s BBC has actually aired a prior unreleased Blu-ray version of the film on and off these past few years. Temple of Doom looks particularly good on Blu-ray due to the rich colours used for many of the Thuggee cult scenes, the opening production number in Club Obi Wan, and the Pankot Palace dinner. UK fans also finally get the long-desired uncut version of Temple of Doom, which contains the extended scene where Mola Ram plucks out the heart of one of his victims, then converts Indy to cause, and additionally the moment when both Indy and Short Round are whipped mercilessly. Presumably cut as it featured Short Round being tortured, it seems odd that the rest of the movie, showing the village children being whipped regularly by the Thuggee guards in the mines, survives unscathed. This scene is also notable as it contains the only example of Indy swearing in any of the movies. One downside to the high definition is on The Last Crusade, much like Return of the Jedi, some of the blue screen effects seemed rushed on original release and jarred even in the late eighties. Those scenes look even worse on Blu-ray, the bi-plane scene in particular looks very bad now and really could have done with improving. Crystal Skull has already had a Blu-ray release and does look superb, but, when viewed in order, the difference in style between the late great Douglas Slocombe (Director of Photography on the original three films) and Janusz Kaminski (Director of Photography on Crystal Skull) is very noticeable. Slocombe (one of the true greats of cinema) created a rich and deep colour field favouring very naturalistic lighting whilst Kaminski uses more muted tones and at times creates an almost artificial look.

Steven Spielberg has fun with Karen Allen and Harrison Ford directing the finale to RAIDERS.

Although almost unchanged visually, the original three films do seem to have had their soundtracks altered. It could possibly be the sound mix, but I am pretty certain that some scenes have little extra bits of dialogue added in. George Lucas has done this sort of thing before with the Star Wars Trilogy, changing lines of dialogue and making use of alternate takes from ADR sessions, mostly to the films detriment in my opinion. On the Indy films it's not a big deal but on first viewing it did make me sit up and think to myself, "Oh, that didn't used to be in there, that's different."

The films aside, one of the biggest draws of this set has to be the bonus disc. This is a somewhat disappointing mixed bag of new material and a lot of rehashed stuff from previous releases.

The best extra is an all-new hour long feature called On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Made up of two half-hour features that can be played back to back or individually, called respectively "From Jungle to Desert" and "From Adventure to Legend", this is comprised entirely of on-set footage from the various sets and locations of Raiders of the Lost Ark, edited in chronological order of the movie scenes and not necessarily the order in which they were filmed during production. This is excellent, showing great on-set interviews with all the main cast and crew, insights into the problems with the production and even better it features many deleted scenes, such as extra traps during the opening scenes with Indy and Satipo, the full Cairo Swordsman scene with Harrison Ford and stuntman Terry Richards, comic scenes between Sallah and Nazi officers, and at last an explanation as to why there is a sleeping Arab digger slumped in the scene when Indy and Marion escape the Well of Souls. It would have been nice if Spielberg had allowed a proper, separate selection of deleted scenes on the disc but as he has been quite vocal about his dislike of including deleted scenes on disc releases, so we should be grateful for at least getting this. Unfortunately, what makes it worse is that although this feature is only about Raiders, under the credits we get tiny fragments of outtakes and deleted scenes from Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade.

Ford and young Ke Huy Quan have fun in Sri Lanka for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.

After this new feature everything else is re-hash. We do get the previously available on VHS and shown on TV, original 1981 Making of Raiders which is good for those that don't have it. Interestingly, on this feature, the original VHS tape and TV broadcast featured a song called Memories, Friends and 8x10's which references a quote made by stuntman Terry Leonard during on-set footage of the truck chase. Sadly, this song is absent from the Blu-ray version, perhaps due to legal issues/copyright clearances, although the credits still list it and credit the writer and performer. It would have been nice if we could have had all the other vintage Making of’s, too, as there are several: another for Raiders called Great Movie StuntsRaiders of the Lost Ark which was released on VHS as a double bill with the original Making of. Frank Marshall’s Making of Temple of Doom is also sadly missing, along with three different documentaries on The Last Crusade, one of which has previously been a VHS release in the USA.

Sean Connery adds some ingenious father/son comedy to the mix in INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE.

Everything else is pulled from previous box sets of the original three films and from the Crystal Skull individual releases. Modern Making of’s for all four movies, featurettes on Stunts, Music, Props, Locations, a very short American Film Institute interview with the three Indy girls, and some other fluff.

The movies themselves only have one special feature which is the trailers for each respective film. Raiders being the best, featuring three vintage trailers for the first run and for a re-release.

Old dogs with new tricks. Spielberg and Ford return for one last (?) time in INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL.

So all in all, a nice set but disappointing in the amount of new content in regards to the extras.

My ratings would be:

Raiders of the Lost Ark Blu-ray transfer: 10/10

Temple of Doom transfer: 10/10

The Last Crusade transfer: 8/10

Crystal Skull transfer: 9/10

On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark: 10/10

Other extras: 6/10

Overall set rating: 8/10

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