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Blu-ray Review: INDIANA JONES: The Complete Adventures

You guys don't need me to tell you how awesome Indiana Jones is. Raiders of the Lost Ark is, in my eyes, a completely perfect film, Temple of Doom is flawed but still somewhat enjoyable, The Last Crusade may be the most purely entertaining of the bunch, and while The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull is a movie I personally never want to visit again, it has its defenders around the web. This is one of the most iconic film franchises of all time, and it's finally available so you can see it in the best possible way (aside from a movie theater screen): on Blu-ray.

If you'd like more of my thoughts on each of the movies, my former Not Just New Movies Podcast co-host and I wrote reviews of every movie recently, so you can find those at the following links: Raiders, Temple, Crusade, Skull. But you're not here for that - you're here to find out whether the Blu-ray is worth purchasing. The answer, of course, is yes. For any true Indiana Jones fan, this is a must-have. I'm not normally one to get swept away with a product like this, but since the Indiana Jones franchise holds two of my personal top ten favorite movies of all time in Raiders and Crusade, it's hard not to get excited about just how great this set truly is.

You've likely heard about most of the bonus features, many of which are ported over from previous DVD releases, and there's a staggering seven total hours of bonus feature time. Diehard Indy fans have probably already seen all of those DVD bonus features before, but the real highlight of this Blu-ray set for me, aside from the movies themselves looking better than ever, is the brand new documentary On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark: From Jungle to Desert and From Adventure to Legend. This feature alone is worth the $99 price tag on this Complete Adventures Blu-ray, because it gives a previously unseen insight into Steven Spielberg's directing abilities.

Ever wondered what it would be like to be on a movie set with the most popular filmmaker in the world? Wonder no more, because this documentary, which features rare archival footage, is like a mini-film school all to itself; we're RIGHT THERE with Spielberg as he coaches the actors, walks through storyboards, oversees stunts, and jokes around with the cast and crew. You can learn so much from just watching him and the choices that he makes, all aimed toward the same shared vision with co-creator George Lucas, who is also there for much of the action. There's also a Making of Raiders featurette from 1981 that didn't make it onto the previous DVD release in case you were looking for even more Raiders goodness.

There is a metric ton of other features as well (all listed below), but many of the ones not previously on the DVD box set incorporate footage and interviews from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which are fascinating to watch only because of the paradox that they present. Throughout almost all of these specific features, the filmmakers (Spielberg included) talk about how they decided that they wanted to make Crystal Skull the old-fashioned way, trying to capture the spirit of how they made the original trilogy. They constantly talk about how they made this decision to do it old school, but yet at the same time, there are hours worth of features explaining in great detail how they created many of the effects in post production, from the CGI gopher to the ridiculous ants and infamous nuclear blast. It's incredible that these guys can sit there with a straight face and tell us that they are making Crystal Skull the old-fashioned way and then blatantly show us the process of exactly how they are NOT doing that immediately afterwards.

But there are some great moments from the original trilogy that I had forgotten all about. The behind-the-scenes featurette from The Last Crusade reminded me that Sean Connery sweat so much during the zepplin scene in which he talks to Ford at a table about their relationship while Indy was growing up, that he did the scene without his pants on. Ford, naturally, joined him in going pantsless. For Temple of Doom (a film Spielberg freely admits to being his least favorite of the first three), his leading lady and future wife Kate Capshaw didn't read the script carefully enough and was shocked to find out that she was scheduled to do an entire sequences with snakes, but ultimately she was so freaked out that Spielberg cut the scene so she didn't have to do it. She also apparently didn't read enough into it to realize there was a bug sequence she had to do, so she ended up taking drugs to relax enough to actually film that one. (Side note: how the eff do you NOT read the script for a movie you get hired to do? Baffling.) And almost all of the famous mine cart chase (which was a leftover set piece from Raiders) was surprisingly shot inside a sound stage, so all the crew had to do was change the lighting and it looked like the track was much longer than it really was.

You'll get all these anecdotes plus hundreds more with this awesome set. Despite my qualms with him and his contradictary statements about Crystal Skull, Spielberg directed the hell out of this series and created one of the best action adventure film series in the history of cinema in the process. I'll leave you with this quote from the director himself, which I think sums up his directorial preferences nicely:

I like movies that are all about craft and collaboration. Films that rely on the best of all departments. The best plasterers, the best electricians, the best painters, the best special effects experts, the best property masters. When it all comes together, and you don't do it in the computer - and I'm not being luddite when I say this - but when you're really having to rely on all the different departments, just like old Hollywood used to do and old England used to do, to realize the director, the producer, the writer's, and the actor's vision, that's good old-fashioned moviemaking and I love that.

Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures hits Blu-ray on Tuesday, September 18th, 2012.

(For more on Raiders specifically, check out my recap of the 30th Anniversary screening held in Los Angeles last year featuring a Q&A with director Steven Spielberg and a surprise appearance by star Harrison Ford.) 

GeekTyrant is currently offering a chance to win an Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Prize Pack, enter today!

Disc 1—Raiders of the Lost Ark

Raiders of the Lost Ark is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 2.0 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the following:

  • Teaser Trailer (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)
  • Re-Issue Trailer (HD)

Disc 2—Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 2.0 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the following:

  • Teaser Trailer (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Disc 3—Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 2.0 Dolby Digital and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the following:

  • Teaser Trailer (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD)

Disc 4—Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description and English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The disc includes the following:

  • Theatrical Trailer #2 (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer #3 (HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer #4 (HD)

Disc 5—Bonus Features

Bonus features are presented in standard and high definition (as indicated below) in English with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

  • NEW – On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • From Jungle to Desert
    • From Adventure to Legend
  • Making the Films
    • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary previously unavailable on DVD)
    • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Disc 5—Bonus Features (cont’d)

    • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
  • Behind the Scenes
    • The Stunts of Indiana Jones
    • The Sound of Indiana Jones
    • The Music of Indiana Jones
    • The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
    • Raiders: The Melting Face!
    • Indiana Jones and the Creepy Crawlies (with optional pop-ups)
    • Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
    • Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
    • Indy’s Friends and Enemies
    • Iconic Props (Crystal Skull) (HD)
    • The Effects of Indy (Crystal Skull) (HD)
    • Adventures in Post Production (Crystal Skull) (HD)
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