Indiana Jones (1981) - The Adventure Collection

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Comedy / Fantasy
Paramount || NR - 359 minutes - $59.98 || May 13, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-05-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer(s): RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK: George Lucas and Philip Kaufman (story), Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay); TEMPLE OF DOOM: George Lucas (story), Willard Huyck & Gloria Katz (screenplay); THE LAST CRUSADE: George Lucas and Menno Meyjes (story), Jeffrey Boam (screenplay)
Cast: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, Denholm Elliott, Paul Freeman, Julian Glover, John Rhys-Meyers, Alfred Molina, River Phoenix, Ke Huy Quan


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • New Introductions by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas
  • Indiana Jones: An Appreciation
  • The Melting Face!
  • The Creepy Crawlies
  • Travel with Indy: Locations
  • Indy's Women: AFI Tribute
  • Indy's Friends and Enemies
  • Storyboards for All 3 Films
  • Galleries for All 3 Films


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

In preparation for the theatrical release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Paramount and Lucas Ltd. are releasing the previous Indiana Jones films again after already have done so in 2003 with a bonus fourth disc, but all three films only available in a set. Only difference this time is now each film is available for purchase individually or in a box set and with new bonus features.

+ RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 4.5/5

Plot: Indiana Jones, an archeologist and world-trotter, is sent on a mission to find and recover the Ark of the Covenant before Hitler and the Nazis find it first and use its powers for their own evil deeds.

27 years ago the team-up of the century took place as Steven Spielberg, who already had two hits with Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars, teamed together to present one of the all-time best adventure-fantasy movies. Raiders of the Lost Ark even nearly three decades later, still holds as a fantastic film filled with action that is complimented with humor and bitter romance between Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood.

Raiders is a globe-trotting adventure that never grows tedious or boring and that is due to, in large part, the charisma and charm of Harrison Ford. Already known as Hans Solo in Star Wars (and The Empire Strikes Back), Ford showed that he wasn’t just a one-character man. Sure, Hans Solo and Indiana Jones share common traits like unusual names and a sort of boyish immaturity when it comes to the ladies, but at the same time he is able to make each character his own and just a little different.

I’m not overly familiar with the whole Saturday matinee from the 50s, but I do know that era had a huge influence on Steven Spielberg for the entire trilogy. And even though the ideals of that time and place were long gone, it was still something that connected so many groups of people to love this film. Young and old, this was a crowd favorite that has stood the test of time where so many from the 80s lose a certain appeal (for me, I include Tim Burton’s Batman in that category).

One can argue Raiders of the Lost Ark was the best of the trilogy, and I wouldn’t disagree, though the sequels each brought something to the table as well...

This film co-stars John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings), Paul Freeman (Hot Fuzz) and a then unknown Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2) in his first credited feature film.

+ INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM 4/5

Plot: After barely escaping a raging Shanghai nightclub brawl, Indy crash-lands into the wilds of India where he uncovers a sinister scheme that has enslaved a remote village’s children in a fortress-like mine. Indy must save the children and avoid becoming a slave himself to the evil Thuggee cult.

The sequel to the 1981 hit takes a much darker tone. Slave kids and demonic occult dominate the film and while it still retains some of the humor of Raiders, it’s not quite as fun. Much like The Empire Strikes Back, story writer George Lucas takes the stance of things get worse before they get better to heart.

Some might be turned off by the darker tone, but I didn’t mind one bit. Between the mine cart rollercoaster ride and just the overall action-adventure storyline, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is still a solid entry into a great franchise.

Indy’s main squeeze this time around is played by Kate Capshaw (a.k.a. Mrs. Steven Spielberg) as nightclub singer Willie Scott. She’s certainly a different character than Karen Allen as Marion (spoiled vs. stubborn) and some might find her annoying but at least she’s not a stand-in for Allen... right?

Temple of Doom co-stars Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round (in his feature debut) and Amrish Puri. Also, look out for a cameo by Dan Aykroyd.

+ INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM 3.75/5

Plot: In a prologue that reveals a young Indiana Jones in one of his first adventures, this thrilling screen epic continues as an adult Indy embarks on a perilous quest for his cantankerous father, Professor Henry Jones, Sr. The Nazis are on the trail of the Holy Grail, and have kidnapped Indy’s father, the foremost authority on the Cup of Christ.

The “final” chapter of the trilogy is, to me, one of the weaker ones (by comparison), though still a hell lot of fun. Obviously nabbing Sean Connery to play Indy’s pa was pure genius. Connery is really the only actor out there that could outshine Harrison Ford and what fun would it be if you had a substandard actor in that role? The chemistry between Connery and Ford is priceless and you can believe that the two of them not only could be related but there is a certain shadow that someone of Connery’s stature casts over others.

The rest of the film, however, felt more like a rehash of Raiders of the Lost Ark. After the critical punishment Temple of Doom received, I guess it was only natural to go back to what works. Bringing back the Nazis and changing up the dynamic of Indy’s love interest was enough to avoid this from being an outright remake, just substitute the Ark of the Covenant with the Holy Grail.

That said, in a world where franchies rarely maintain quality throughout their duration, Indiana Jones has stood the test of time. Some might like to point at the Pirates of the Caribbean movies to continue the legacy of the action-adventure genre, Indiana Jones is still easily the best.

The Last Crusade marks the return of John Rhys-Meyers as Indy’s jolly buddy. The film also co-stars the late River Phoenix as a young Indiana Jones.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

This set has new features but comparing it to the 2003 releases, the menus seem to be the same, including the transitions. Only difference is now the Paramount logo starts followed by the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Missing is the bonus fourth disc which included featurettes on the visual effects, sound, stunts, music and original trailers plus “Making the Trilogy”.

In the Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection, all three films have common features, not the same exact ones, but same kind of content. For sake of time, I’ll cover those here and will write more specific for the others before by film.

First, each disc contains New Introductions by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Ideally this would’ve been a great feature if both were together talking about the films, but instead we’re treated to some old photos and comments by Spielberg and Lucas on favorite moments or how the project came to be. The featurettes aren’t terribly long either averaging around 6.5 minutes each.

Each disc also contains galleries and a game demo to “LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures”.

Note: The special features rating for each film includes the intros, galleries and game demo.

+ RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 3.25/5

Indiana Jones: An Appreciation (11:39) – Cast and crew both apart of Raiders appear on the set of Crystal Skull talking about not only Raiders of the Lost Ark, although that takes a good portion of the time, they also discuss Temple of Doom and Last Crusade and the effect the franchise has had and their own experience (for instance, writer David Koepp, who worked on Crystal Skull, remembers going to see Raiders).

The Melting Face! (8:47) – This feature examines how the grotesque and semi-infamous scene was done as one of the villain’s face literally melts off. The featurette contains new interviews with Spielberg and others and also has some archive footage of the work being done for the effect.

Storyboards: The Wall of Souls (4:15) rounds out the features. It is a storyboard-to-screen comparison and nothing more.

+ INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM 3/5

The Creepy Crawlies (11:54) – This featurette examines the numerous bugs that appear not only in Temple but the other Indiana Jones films as well. For those really interested in snakes or the other “creepy crawlies”, a pop-up trivia track is available to watch.

Travel with Indy: Locations (10:29) – Filmmakers and producers show the places where each film were filmed at and what they doubled as. For instance, part of Raiders was filmed in Hawaii. This too has a pop-up trivia track for those who want to know more about the locations.

Last and very least is Storyboards: The Mine Cart Chase (2:30).

+ INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE 2.5/5

Indy’s Women: AFI Tribute (9:20) – This is only a portion of the AFI special on the ladies from the trilogy. The three women, Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody, appear on stage answering questions, unfortunately the only one we get to hear are about their characters. Why not get the entire special on this disc???

Indy’s Friends and Enemies (10:46) – The most extensive feature on this disc, it takes a look at the men and women who have appeared in the Indiana Jones Trilogy, including the aforementioned love interests.

And, like the other two discs, this also includes Storyboards: The Opening Sequence (3:39) storyboard-to-screen comparison.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

VIDEO:
The Indiana Jones Trilogy are all presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 2.35 AR. You can read my quick rundown for each below.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - Given it is nearly 30 years old (wow, has time gone by!), the picture looks pretty damn good. As far as I can tell, this is the same remastered version released in 2003, so on that front; this set is not an upgrade. 4.5/5

TEMPLE OF DOOM - is now 24 years old and still looks very good. By its very tone, it is darker than any of the other movies. The black levels seem to be quite good and colors look solid and not overbearing. 4.5/5

LAST CRUSADE – The final movie of this original trilogy (assuming Crystal Skull will restart everything with Shia LaBeouf in the lead), looks and sounds better than the other two movies. It’s only about 19 years old and is brighter than the others as well. Given it takes place in the middle east for a good portion, it’s a little tough to see grains or other imperfections, but since the restoration process was so well done on the others, I can’t thing how this would be any different. 4.5/5

AUDIO:
All three films feature a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track in English. French and Spanish Dolby 2.0 tracks are also available. Here’s a quick rundown on each film with my rating.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK - The audio is fine, though a little on the soft side when it came to dialogue. Action scenes come through my home theater very nicely with a little oomph at the right places. But overall, it’s a good mix. 3.75/5

TEMPLE OF DOOM - The audio on this movie was slightly better than on Raiders. Dialogue is crisp and the sound comes through the speakers nicely. 4/5

LAST CRUSADE – This too has a good audio track and is strong in both dialogue and action scenes. Since it is the newer movie of the trilogy, I’d expect it to be better. 4.25/5



.::OVERALL::.

I’m giving this a lower overall rating because Paramount neglected to include the fourth disc of extras, and not some average features either, a good 3 HOURS worth. Why not include it in this set or hell, even set up a deal with a retail chain to give it for $5 with the purchase of any of the individual films? Fact is, while it’s nice they’re finally releasing each on their own, the features included aren’t that great. If you already own the ’03 release, keep it. If you don’t own it, grab it now on Amazon where it sells for only a few dollars more than this “Adventure Collection” (as of 05/13/08). While I give the set a moderate 3/5, with the original 2003 release in mind, I’d lower it to even 2.5/5.