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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection

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#1 of 90 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted May 01 2008 - 08:12 AM

Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection
Directed by Steven Spielberg

Studio: Paramount
Year: 1981/1984/1989
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 359 minutes
Rating: PG/PG/PG-13
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English; 2.0 stereo surround French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 59.98

Release Date: May 13, 2008
Review Date: May 1, 2008

The Films

Raiders of the Lost Ark 5/5
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 4/5
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 5/5

Indiana Jones, everyone’s favorite globe-trotting archaeologist, gets new special editions for his adventures in Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection. Truth to tell, there was not much wrong with the 2003 DVD release of the three films in a box set (with a bonus disc of supplements). Now, the films will be offered separately as well as in this collective set.

We first got to know Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in a masterful ode to classic adventure serials of the 1930s, fashioned by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman and directed by Steven Spielberg, as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indy was on the trail of the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient religious relic that was reportedly the receptacle for the original stone Ten Commandments tablets. The film was a terrific amalgamation of fast-paced adventure, glorious stunts, definite elements of supernatural fantasy, a slight touch of romance, and just plain fun. A huge box-office triumph, the film won five Academy Awards and allowed Lucas to see his original plan of a trilogy of Indy adventures get the green light.

Three years later came Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Far darker and more disturbing than Raiders, Temple of Doom found Indy and two cohorts (a child and a woman) in search of a mystical sacred stone stolen from an Indian tribal altar, a stone whose loss had brought disaster to the village. Driven to make the second Jones saga less bubbly fun and more serious in tone, George Lucas convinced Spielberg that darker was the way to go thus dooming the film in the eyes of many as distinctly inferior to the original. The film has its flaws (Spielberg’s over-infatuation with all things gross and crawly, the torturously irritating presence of the undeniably beautiful Kate Capshaw), but there are unquestionably entertaining set pieces: the opening nightclub sequence where both a diamond and a poison antidote go pinging around a slippery floor, a chamber of horrors for Indy and his pal Short-Round (Ke Huy Quan), a frenzied chase and escape in a mining shaft car, and a climactic bridge collapse over a river of crocodiles), but the action quotient is breathlessly high, and there is fun to be had amid the darkness and disturbing imagery.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade has a distinctly déjà vu quality about it, harking back to the original film time and again. What gives it its unique place among the trilogy, however, is the memorable father and son dynamic established by Sean Connery playing Dr. Henry Jones, Indy’s father. Estranged for years and never on good terms, the father and son relationship in the third film allows the two actors to engage in one face off after another, all to riotously entertaining effect. Once again, Indy vies with the Nazis only this time over the search for the legendary Holy Grail. There’s a dominant woman’s presence in this film, too, but Alison Doody’s Elsa is no whining, screeching Kate Capshaw. She makes a fetching foil for both Indy and his father making it all too understandable why the duo are willing to follow her anywhere.

The remarkable level of entertainment these three films deliver represent something of the apex of commercial Hollywood filmmaking. These three new editions bring the films back with new special features not available elsewhere. In this new collection, slim line cases are used but with cover art reminiscent but not identical to the previous DVD releases.

Video Quality

4.5/5 for each movie

The anamorphically enhanced 2.35:1 transfers are beautifully delivered. Though these are likely the same video masters as the 2003 releases, color fidelity and image stability seem just a bit steadier in these new transfers. Color is richly saturated, and sharpness in medium and close shots is exemplary. Only a slight tendency toward smearing in some long shots and a momentary loss of focus in a couple of shots prevents the transfers from achieving the top video score. Blacks are incredibly deep with superb shadow detail. The images have been cleaned of all debris and look brand new. The first two films are divided into 31 chapters while the third film is divided into 36 chapters.

Audio Quality

5/5 for each movie

The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are incredible achievements with immersive and widespread sound fields enveloping the viewer. LFE can be very impressive when they kick in, and the sound designs presented here seem equal to the best soundtracks of present day action films.

Special Features

3.5/5 for each movie

Each film in the collection has its own set of bonus material, but most of the features are laid out the same on each of the three movie discs. The documentary featurettes on each of the discs were produced by Laurent Bouzereau.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Introduction by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg finds the producer and director of the film discussing how the first film in the series came about, the casting process for the leading roles, and the filming of the movie. The new footage is in anamorphic widescreen though clips from behind-the-scenes documentaries which were included in the last release of the films are in 4:3. This introduction lasts 7 ¾ minutes.

“Indiana Jones: An Appreciation” features the cast and crew of the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull paying tribute to the three films in the series. Interviewed for this featurette are Karen Allen, Harrison Ford, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Frank Kennedy, Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, John Hurt, Cate Blanchett, and Shia Labeouf.

“The Melting Face” is an interesting summation of the work that went into that startling special effect at the climactic point in Raiders, done before CGI was an available solution for special effects technicians. The featurette runs 8 ¾ minutes.

Storyboard Sequence - The Well of Souls places the storyboards for the incredibly tense sequence above a reduced window showing the finished film sequence in a fascinating 4 ¼ minute feature.

Step-through galleries allow the viewer to see pictures in color and black and white and conceptual art in four different areas: illustrations and props, production photographs and portraits, effects/ILM, and marketing.

“Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Game Demo and Trailer actually gives only a 1 ¼ minute trailer for this new video game and the internet site where the demo can be played. This feature is repeated on each of the other two subsequent discs.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Introduction by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg gives the information behind the decision to make the second film in the series darker and more anguished in tone. The two men each also state their distaste for the second film. This featurette runs 6 minutes.

“Creepy Crawlies” is a fun 12-minute look at the different types of crawling creatures used in each of the three movies and how they were wrangled on the set: snakes and spiders in the first, bugs in the second, and rats in the third. The disc also allows the viewer to turn on a pop-up fact dispenser that runs during the featurette.

Locations shows us the various places where each of the three films was shot, often not in the countries where the characters supposedly were. It’s quite interesting to see what was shot in a studio and what was shot outdoors, often with production design so expert that it’s impossible to tell fake from real locations. This feature runs 10 ½ minutes and also offers the viewer an optional pop-up fact dispenser.

Storyboard Sequence - The Mine Cart Chase is a (too-brief) 2 ½ minute comparison of storyboards and actual footage of the film’s most famous chase sequence.

Step-through galleries once again allow the viewer to see photographs and conceptual art for this film in four groupings: illustrations and props, production photographs and portraits, effects/ILM, and marketing.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Introduction by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg provides background on how the character of Indy’s father came into the story, and why Sean Connery was approached to play the role. The featurette lasts 6 ¼ minutes.

“The Women: The American Film Institute Tribute” has leading ladies Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw, and Alison Doody individually discussing in 2003 on the occasion of the release of the three films initially on DVD their thoughts about the characters they played in their individual films. This interesting take on their feelings about their characters is presented in 4:3 and lasts 9 ½ minutes.

“Friends and Enemies” is another summary about the Indy sidekicks and villains from all three movies, discussed by Lucas, Spielberg, and the writers of the three films. This lasts 10 ¾ minutes.

Storyboard Sequence - The Opening Sequence once again shows the illustrated storyboards and underneath it the corresponding film clips from the opening train sequence in the movie with River Phoenix starring as young Indy. This lasts 3 ¾ minutes.

Step-through galleries once again allow the viewer to see photographs and conceptual art for this film in four groupings: illustrations and props, production photographs and portraits, effects/ILM, and marketing.

Each film also contains a trailer for the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The trailers for the original films are not provided on the discs.

In Conclusion

4.5/5 (not an average)

The films themselves are the prime gems in this collection, three of the most entertaining popcorn movies ever made. The bonus features, while new, are not a patch on the bonus disc that came with the last Indiana Jones DVD release. If you have that set already but feel you need these new releases for the new bonuses, at least keep the old supplementary disc (even though its features are in 4:3). The films here look as wonderful as standard definition resolution will allow them to look. I suspect many (including me) will be waiting for the day when the films come to Blu-ray. Until then, these DVDs represent the achievements of the films handsomely.

Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC


#2 of 90 OFFLINE   Arild


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Posted May 01 2008 - 08:23 AM

Sounds like a great introduction. "Meh, we don't even really like this movie... now have fun watching!" Posted Image

#3 of 90 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted May 01 2008 - 08:56 AM

They would, imo, be foolish to withhold these on Bd any longer than until the release of the new film ( which I have little doubt will be a day and date release). Most people- especially the studios- need to realize that the hundreds of thousands who rushed out to replace aging full frame tapes with dvds already have made their significant upgrade. They've gotten random access, remasteredm refurbished widescreen anamorphic visuals, extras, 5.1 sound...if the studios think hundreds of thousands of current owners are going to rush out and replace perfectly adequete media they are being fools. They further inhibit the transition with a re-release like this. Hopefully they realize Blu-ray isn't ever likely to be a goldmine for catalog, but do realize it is still a worthwhile supplement and proceed accordingly. I pulled out my copy of Raiders last night and it looked acceptable and more than watchable projected 9' wide. I'll look forward to the Bd release but I'm just not 'jonesing' for it as much as some lesser films that have worse sd dvd encodes and need the upgrade even more.

#4 of 90 OFFLINE   Corey3rd



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Posted May 01 2008 - 01:09 PM

Wanted to hear Spielberg say, "I was too caught up in having an affair with the actress to really give this project 100% of my attention. You people ought to feel lucky that I remembered to take the lens cap off the camera."
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#5 of 90 OFFLINE   Charles_Y


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Posted May 02 2008 - 12:16 AM

TOTAL waste of time releasing these in SD AGAIN! Why this was not released on Blu Ray is a real mystery to me. The supplements are ok but could be better and the transfers are the same. My advice to those of you with the previous editions keep them and don't waste your time with these. Even when the BD editions come along you can be sure Paramount will screw the public and drop ALL the extras, give you the films themselves and charge a pretty penny in the process. Blu-Ray may look great and sound nice but you rarely get anything more nowadays. What a rip off!

#6 of 90 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted May 02 2008 - 01:01 AM

I think the real importance of Paramount's re-releasing these films is that for the first time, the movies will be available separately (even though I reviewed them as one set) with an adequate set of bonus features. So, folks that wouldn't buy the last set because they couldn't stand TEMPLE OF DOOM and didn't want to buy a movie they'd never watch will now be able to buy the first and third films separately and get some bonuses with the purchase.

#7 of 90 OFFLINE   WillG



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Posted May 02 2008 - 02:39 AM

Well, at least it's somewhat honest. I tend to notice that most Spielberg bonus material lately presents the productions and happy, magical affairs with footage of Spielberg and Tom Cruise giving high fives and the like (even though it's long been rumored that Spielberg could actually have quite a temper on the set). Surely this must be one of the reasons you don't see any material on controversial or tragic productions such as Poltergeist or The Twilight Zone. Probably why there was no production material on Schindler's List and you can't be showing behind the scenes footage of Spielberg and Liam Neeson high fiving each other there. The Jaws doc did talk about much of the troubled production, but much of that was already well known by then.
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#8 of 90 OFFLINE   TravisR


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Posted May 02 2008 - 03:54 AM

It's not much of a mystery- Just like with DVD, they're going to wait until there's alot more Blu Ray players in homes so they can sell more copies and make more money.

#9 of 90 OFFLINE   Ennsio


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Posted May 02 2008 - 04:26 AM

If you guys were going to be buying the Indy set right now, would you buy the 2003 version or this special edition? I was going to buy the 4-disc set earlier this year but then heard the special edition was coming out and thought I should wait to hear what special features it had on it. From what I see here, the "special edition" does not seem to be very special and the descriptions of the extras in the original set sound more interesting. How good are the extras in the original set. I'm more interested in seeing how they did the stunts and other making-of stuff than featurettes about Indy's women or side-kicks. I already own Temple of Doom, which I bought for $3 from a fellow forum member, so I would either buy Raiders and Last Crusade Special editions, or the 4-disc original set if the price came down with the release of the special editions. So, price would likely be comparable between the two options, which reduces the selection criteria to PQ/SQ and extras. Note, I don't have an HDTV and won't for awhile, but do have a good HT. What would you guys recommend I do?

#10 of 90 OFFLINE   PaulDA



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Posted May 02 2008 - 04:57 AM

I bought the original box set last year for 25$--if that helps any.
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#11 of 90 OFFLINE   Ennsio


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Posted May 02 2008 - 05:08 AM

Not unless you're offering to sell it to me. Posted Image

I'd be buying the movies from Future Shop since I have a bunch of gift cards to use.

#12 of 90 OFFLINE   MitchA



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Posted May 02 2008 - 05:26 AM

You really need to see an image comparison to see if the upgrade is worth it or deciding on which set to buy. Are these getting released individually as well? The extras disc with the first trilogy is quite extensive as noted in the review.

#13 of 90 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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Posted May 02 2008 - 05:29 AM

The bonus disc in the original set was decent- not as comprehensive as the one for the OT star wars films, but still a worthwhile watch. IIrc there is a stunt-centric featurette on it in addition to a sustanative doc on all three film and a trailer section for all three (though I really would have liked to see the TV spots on there as well). Unless you want to save money buying just the other two here, it sounds like the original set is the better release of the two. The reason I disagree with people like Travis on the likely timeframe for a Blu-ray release ( I say sooner rather than years and years away) is because DVD was a special situation. The 'big' catalog titles like this were highly anticipated on disc because it represented a highly desireable change in form factor and the first ever inclusion of supplemental material along with much higher quality. They would be foolish to expect the same level of enthusiasm to build for Bd because it just isn't the same gulf as going from a tape based media to disc as it is going disc to better disc. Blu-ray is for the consumer who likes to upgrade dvds as that is what it is...an upgrade for people used to spending money chasing down 'the best possible version'. DVD, otoh, was for everyone who looked to leave 80's era ergonomic tech behind. The other reason for the delay in releasing them on dvd was they were all synchronized into a larger plan timed to yearly exploit the prequel trilogy- or take advantage of the dead zones in that properties exploitation-ala Indy in 2003. But as in many aspects of Blu-ray, opinions are ultimately worthless and we'll all just have to wait and see what actually does happen.

#14 of 90 OFFLINE   MitchA



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Posted May 02 2008 - 05:32 AM

DTS tracks could of also been another inclusion for this set, I always thought thats all that was really lacking from the first set (But the Dolby tracks are still excellent).

#15 of 90 OFFLINE   PaulDA



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Posted May 02 2008 - 06:50 AM

I was merely pointing out that the older set can probably be found for substantially less than the new one. I'm keeping mine, thanks (if hybrid HD DVD was still around, I might consider selling it, but I won't have multiple "blu" players for quite some time and the Indy films are a popular choice in the house--so I'll need an SD copy for quite some time to come).

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#16 of 90 OFFLINE   mike kaminski

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Posted May 02 2008 - 08:17 AM

Personally, I think these new special features suck. The documentary on the old set was fantastic, a great, thorough overview of the making of the entire trilogy, plus there was substantial featurettes on the stunts and the special effects and whatnot. They definitely should have kept the fourth disk on the boxset; I can understand not doing it for the single disk editions, but for a box set this is a very lame, very overpriced exploitation.

#17 of 90 OFFLINE   Ennsio


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Posted May 02 2008 - 10:39 AM

Those were my general impressions too, Mike, when comparing the special features of the two sets (by name only, as I have not seen any of them). That's why I'm leaning towards the original set over these "special" editions.

#18 of 90 OFFLINE   Mark_TB


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Posted May 02 2008 - 12:47 PM

If you really can't decide which set to get, do what I just did: Buy the new Adventure Collection, then purchase the Bonus Disc from the original box set from Amazon Marketplace or eBay (I paid a whopping $3.93, shipping included). Then you'll have everything that's available! Mark

#19 of 90 OFFLINE   TheBat



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Posted May 02 2008 - 08:45 PM

all 3 films are going to be playing on the USA and scifi channel this month.. some satalite company have HD for those channels.

Indiana Jones -Indiana Jones Trilogy


#20 of 90 OFFLINE   ChrisCook



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Posted May 03 2008 - 02:43 AM

Why are the Indy films on the USA Network being aired in reverse order? Not to take this off-topic, but there's a hilarious new M&Ms commercial being promoted for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I caught it while watching one of my DVR recordings for Corner Gas. I saw the same one again the other night on a different station. Have anyone else seen this commercial?

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