The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 2008
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 122 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Cate Blanchett, Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, John Hurt
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: David Koepp based upon the story by George Lucas and Jeff Nathanson
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: October 14, 2008
"The adventure continues…"
Steven Spielberg and George Lucas bring you the greatest adventurer of all time in “a nonstop thrill ride” (Richard Corliss, TIME) that’s packed with “sensational, awe-inspiring spectacles” (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times). Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull finds Indy (Harrison Ford) trying to outrace a brilliant and beautiful agent (Cate Blanchett) for the mystical, all-powerful Crystal Skull of Akator. Teaming up with a rebellious young biker (Shia LaBeouf) and his spirited original love Marion (Karen Allen), Indy takes you on a breathtaking action-packed adventure in the exciting tradition of the classic Indiana Jones movies!
I saw Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in the theater. I am definitely a fan of the franchise and looked forward to this installment. I wasn’t sure what to expect but felt confident in knowing that both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were involved in the writing and direction. Since Harrison Ford IS Indiana Jones there was no other option in my opinion regarding who would play the part. I thought that the story appropriately brought the character up to date and didn’t overemphasize his age but didn’t ignore it either. I thought that bringing Marion (and Karen Allen) back into the mix was a nice touch for fans. I didn’t feel that the story was up to the level of the previous films but it had enough depth to make it enjoyable nonetheless. It seemed as though it wasn’t sure how to bring in the climax after the build up, which is where it fell short. Regardless, part of the fun is getting there and that is where the positive attributes lie in the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The supporting cast is made up of quality actors in Cate Blanchett and John hurt. Shai LaBeouf’s star is on the rise but he has a ways to go to prove himself as a quality actor. I do find him appealing onscreen and overall I like him. In my opinion this film stayed true to the feel of the character and the first three movies. As a fan I wasn’t disappointed in it but just felt that it didn’t have the beginning to end solidity of the others.
The rating is for adventure violence and scary images.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes to Blu-ray featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 mbps.
Having seen this film theatrically I had high hopes for this video presentation and Paramount didn’t disappoint. Images have a resplendent quality with punchy contrast and high level detail. It obvious that Director Spielberg utilizes varying visual characterizes which can be scene specific to capture the look he wants. He uses filtering to give some scenes a soft glow around bright objects which is reminiscent of the earlier Indiana Jones films. The period clothing used leaned more toward beige, gray and sepia tones that made many scenes appear to be less colorful. There were scenes that contained splashes of color with brighter hues and a broader palette that sparkled. Colors were vivid and rich in texture where appropriate and looked great in high definition. As Dr. Irina Spalko (Blanchett) addresses Indy outside of Area 51 there is a medium distance camera shot of her. The fine blonde hairs on the surface of her face were clearly defined and contrasted nicely against the deep black of her hair. Another example is during the sequence when Indy and Mutt burst into the library during the motorcycle chase. Just prior to their entrance there is a quick wide angle shot of the library. Notice the video’s three dimensional quality as the students in the foreground, background and the objects within the room appear appreciably delineated and razor sharp. The various colors in the sweaters/clothing worn by the students, the green table lamps and textured appearance of facial features and hair are rendered cleanly. That sequence shows off the dynamic quality of this presentation well and is one of the best looking in the film. Blacks are stable with solid depth and visible gradational highlights. Shadow detail is excellent which provides good visibility in sequences that utilize low lighting and contain darker elements. I had no trouble making out the detail in Indy’s leather jacket as he and Mutt stood in the darkened archway outside of the cell where Ox had been held. Later as they stood in the graveyard I could clearly see the uneven rocky surface of the walls in the background as Indy and Mutt defended themselves against the attacking natives. This increased visual perspective and gave those types of scenes greater depth of field. This movie was shot on film however I didn’t observe any apparent grain structure. There were no obvious signs of digital noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression related artifacts. I thought that this was an excellent video presentation that well represented how this film looked when I saw it theatrically.
The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was just as impressive. This is not an in your face type of sound mix but its refined and silky smooth delivery is not to be underestimated. This film uses a complex sound design that has to maintain a delicate balance so the plethora of sound effects, music and dialogue within the soundtrack can be clearly and easily interpreted by the audience. Dialogue was distinctly perceptible and well articulated so that even subtle changes in the inflection of the voices among the cast was detectable. Sound effects were accurately placed within the sound field which established a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what was being heard within the room. This created an immersive and engaging soundscape that wasn’t overly aggressive but was abundantly rich in detail. I found that even subtle background effects such as the falling of loose debris/pebbles or the soft drip of dewdrops had audible presence. John Williams’ music score was unquestionably the star of the show and it sounded magnificent throughout the film. It appreciably enhanced the motorcycle chase sequence as the orchestrated instrumentation drove the spirited action that culminated in the library. It was accentuated by the smooth timbre of the brass and the low frequency punch of the bass drum. The sound mix delivers rich, well extended bass response that provided tactilely dynamic impact that was occasionally room filling. An example of this can be found early in the movie when the atomic bomb erupts and eviscerates the small make shift town in New Mexico. The initial flash of light is followed by a low frequency burst that resonates throughout the room and sounds great. This was a great audio presentation that seemed reminiscent of the earlier Indiana Jones films. I think that that was due in part to the use of many of the sound effects and music utilized in the first three but it was obvious that this mix didn’t go overboard by being too bombastic like some of today’s action based films.
There is a wealth of bonus supplements included that begin with pre-production and follow the making of this film right through to its completion. There are extensive interviews that seem like a running commentary by Director Steven Spielberg that look inside his thought processes. Interwoven throughout are references to the first three films and the work from them that spilled over into the making of this film. No stone is left uncovered and it is all presented in high definition. I recommend that you take the time to view it all because it is well worth it.
- Pre-Production - Featurette
- Indian Jones timelines
- (HD) Trailers - 2 and 3
- (HD) The return of a legend - Featurette
- (HD) Production Diary: making of Kingdom of the crystal skull
- Shooting begins - New Mexico
- Back to school - New Haven , Connecticut
- Welcome to the jungle - Hilo, Hawaii
- On set action
- exploring Akatar
- Wrapping up!
- (HD) Warrior make-up
- (HD) The crystal skulls
- (HD) Iconic props
- (HD) The effects of Indy
- (HD) Adventures in post production
- (HD) Closing: Team Indy
- (HD) 3 Pre-visualization sequences - mapped out in CGI
- (HD) Galleries:
- The art department
- Stan Winston Studio
- Production photos
- Behind the scenes photos
I am happy to see that an Indiana Jones film has come to high definition Blu-ray Disc. I hope that the others soon follow and offer the quality of this audio/video presentation which is excellent. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t my favorite film of the franchise but it is entertaining and does maintain the integrity of character and the spirit of the earlier films. Recommended.
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