The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount – 1981, 1984, 1989, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG, PG-13
Feature running time: 118, 115, 127, 122 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French/Spanish/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Paul Freeman, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, River Phoenix
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, William Huyck, Gloria Katz, Jeffrey Boam, David Koepp
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 18, 2012
Raiders of the lost Ark - Indy (Harrison Ford) and his feisty ex-flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) dodge booby-traps, fight Nazis and stare down snakes in their incredible worldwide quest for the mystical Ark of the Covenant. Experience one exciting cliffhanger after another when you discover adventure with the one and only Indiana Jones.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Indy (Harrison Ford), his sidekick Short Round (Ke Huy Quan), and nightclub singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) go from high-flying action above the Himalayas to a nail-biting runaway mine car chase and finally a spine-tingling escape from a fortress-like mine in India.
Indiana Jones and the last crusade - Indy's Nazi enemies are back and have kidnapped his father, Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery), to get help in their search for the Holy Grail. Following a trail from America to Venice to the deserts of the Middle East, it's up to Indy (Harrison Ford) to save his father, save the Grail and save the day.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - 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 remember my father took me to see Raiders of the lost Ark at the theater when it came out in 1981. My parents divorced when I was seven and Raiders was the first movie he and I saw together. It was a special event all around and I was immediately a fan. For him it reminded him of the serials he used to see at the movies when he was a boy and for me it represented something I really hadn’t experienced in a film to that point. I knew Harrison Ford from Star Wars but heroes for me either had laser pistols, superpowers or rode horses and carried six shooters. As I watched Raiders I couldn’t help but feel that Indiana Jones was larger than life and in many ways fit the aforementioned hero bill (less the laser pistols of course).
Raiders of the lost Ark was swashbuckling action/adventure, with superbly integrated moments of humor that left people laughing and cheering in the theater. Indiana Jones became and iconic figure that redefined the onscreen hero for a generation. When Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out I was there on opening weekend. Like its predecessor I reveled in the good versus evil concept, the repetitive action and enjoyed the relationship between Indy and Shortround but didn’t feel that the script’s elements sustained the characters or resonated as deeply. The humor felt campy and Kate Capshaw’s “Willie” was (and still is) just plain annoying. Temple of Doom wound up more nostalgically appealing than effectively rewarding. I enjoy it but it remains my least favorite of the first three films.
Five years later when Indiana Jones and last crusade was released I recall not feeling especially motivated to rush out to the theater. It wasn’t long before good reports from friends led me to go see it. Crusade opens with a teenaged Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) in 1912 and jumps forward 26 years where Indy (Harrison Ford) finds out that his estranged father (Sean Connery) has gone missing during a quest to find the Holy Grail.
An antiquities collector recruits Indy to continue the quest for the Grail which leads him on a global trek which for him has the added purpose of locating his missing father. Indy locates Henry Jones in Austria before running into trouble once again with the Nazis. Together with the help of Dr. Marcus Brody and Indy’s trusted sidekick Sallah they take on the challenge of locating the artifact before the Nazis, who plan to use it in their quest for world/race domination.
While not as good as Raiders The last crusade easily surpasses Temple of Doom and brings together Connery and Ford who share excellent onscreen chemistry built around a similar formulaic narrative that nonetheless proves to be plenty exciting, engagingly funny and a return to form that Indiana Jones fans can enjoy.
Fast forward to 2008 and the release of Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which brought back Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in their reprisals of the characters that made Raiders of the lost Ark so good. I reviewed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when it was release on Blu-ray back in 2008. Here are my comments from that review:
As a fan of the Indiana Jones film franchise I 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 that made the better films in the series so much fun to watch.
For the first time all of the Indiana Jones films are brought together in this five disc collection. According to the press release from Paramount, under the supervision of director Steven Spielberg and renowned sound designer Ben Burtt, Raiders of the Lost Ark has been meticulously restored with careful attention to preserving the original look, sound and feel of the iconic film. The original negative was first scanned at 4K and then examined frame-by-frame so that any damage could be repaired. Each of the remaining films, which include Indiana Jones and the King of the Crystal Skull has been re-mastered.
The set comes housed in an attractively bound digibook keep case (with matching slipcover) with individual sleeves for the discs. I like the case, it and the slipcover are sturdy and don’t take up any more room than two standard sized amaray cases. The problem I do have with it is the sleeves for the discs. Removal requires sliding the discs in and out and the spacing is tight which means tugging on them. Not only does it unavoidably leave fingerprints but the potential for scratching the discs.
The release of these films on Blu-ray has been highly anticipated by fans and I am thrilled to now own them in high definition. Read on to see how they look and sound…
The rating’s are for action 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:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Raiders of the lost Ark comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 30 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.1 Mbps.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 Mbps.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 35 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.
*** I previously reviewed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Blu-ray and will include portions of my comments from that review here. I will rate the audio/video separately and provide each rating at the end with the total reflected above.
Raiders of the Lost Ark:
In looking at the first three films I found that the quality of Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade was essentially the same while Raiders of the Lost Ark slightly differed. Having seen these films in the theater years ago I have no viable memory of what they looked like hence no reference for accuracy in terms of this or any subsequent home video presentation. Going by the press release, this version of Raiders has been restored in keeping with the film’s original “look”.
The opening of this film on home video has always been odd looking and that holds true here as well with mildly crushed blacks and uneven contrast. As a whole the presentation boasts clean, well depicted colors and a pleasing palette of secondary hues that mate well with the period specific source material. Resolution is definable with varying degrees of fine rendering that appear scene dependent. Sharpness wavers, which results in some scenes offering discernable clarity while others are noticeably lacking well defined edges and delineated detail. This is probably my biggest complaint and the first thing that jumped out at me. I loaded up the 2003 DVD and while the high definition image is clearly superior the differences in many instances isn’t a dramatic as you would expect. I also noticed a handful of scenes where the image appeared somewhat compressed or processed looking. The first example came in the opening segment just after Belloq obtains the idol from Indy and holds it up in the air (just after Indy scampers off and he gives the order to kill him). The image becomes dark, overtly grainy and flat. It can be seen again later, to a lesser degree, just as Marcus’ car pulls up in front of Indy’s house.
Blacks are rich and white levels are evenly balanced which gives a fair amount of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while darker/low lit segments exhibit excellent dynamic range with visible gradational detail in backgrounds. Grain is present with moderate texture that imparts a filmic quality. While it is evident that the film has been touched up I didn’t see any overt signs that its effects compromised the integrity of the film’s elements although quite frankly there isn’t a way to be certain unless comparing to the original master. I didn’t see any video related noise or distracting artifacts. I must admit that I had higher expectations for Raiders especially in light of the restoration taken from a 4k scan of the original negative. Perhaps this is exactly how it looks and the best we can hope for. There is no doubt that I have never seen it look better in the home environment but comparing it to Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade makes the difference quite obvious.
The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 channel soundtrack is presented in a robust surround mix that makes ample use of the entire platform. Dialogue is clearly rendered although there are instances where prioritization is questionable. I suspect that that is a limitation of the original recording and I would rather have it sound natural than artificially enhanced and hokey. The soundstage opens up when called for as the various sounds/effects emanate from the rear channels to create an enveloping listening experience that is led primarily by John Williams magnificent music score. The volume of the rear channels is mixed a little hot which affects the transition between the front/rear soundstages. Considering the age of this recording I was impressed with its dynamic range as low frequency effects have fair solidity and impact. Overall I enjoyed this new surround sound mix and thought that it preserved the essence of the original recording.
Video rating = 84 Audio rating = 82
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom & Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:
As I pointed out earlier I essentially found that Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade vary little in terms of video quality, although Temple of Doom does have a few questionable moments (the chapter 29 close up while Indy stands on the bridge holding the stones over the river) while The Last Crusade offers deeper image penetration with no noteworthy issues. I have combined my comments for both of them.
Colors are tonally balanced with vivid primaries, clean rendering and delineated secondary hues that all look terrific. Fleshtones are warm with discernible texture and primarily natural depiction. The level of visible detail in facial features, hair and clothing during close-ups is noteworthy. Wide angle shots vary in terms of visual depth but most reveal subtle degrees of refinement and fidelity is never in question. Resolution is excellent as interior and mid level exterior shots offer clarity, detail and dimension. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which preserves white detail and stages of gray while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is visible in fine even layers with no apparent signs of image degrading digital noise reduction. Other than some minor aliasing and light digital noise, primarily associated with optical effects, I didn’t note the presence of any video related anomalies and thought that on a whole Indian Jones and the Temple of Doom and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade look excellent on Blu-ray.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio surround presentation does a nice job rendering these films on Blu-ray. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. Each makes good use of the left, right and center channels to deliver seamlessly integrated panning sequences. Dynamic range is extended but somewhat limited by the dated elements present in the recordings. Sounds and effects emanating from the front channels have copious expression that extends well into the room. Surround activity especially in the case of The Last Crusade is frequent and comes in the form of discernible spatial ambience with some discrete sounds that fill in front to rear directional pans. The LFE channel is similarly used to add impact to the lower bass frequencies associated with the film’s active elements and to add low level support to the music score. I thought that the sound mixes were not only well done but appropriate.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Video rating = 88 Audio rating = 84
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Video rating = 92 Audio rating = 86
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull:
In looking at Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull I noted no significant difference in this re-mastered version versus the 2008 release. I gave the video a rating of 88 back then and that was a bit reserved based upon my notes. I would rate it and ultimately this presentation a bit higher. Here are some comments from my original review:
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. The video’s three dimensional quality is apparent as the students in the foreground, background and the objects within the room appear appreciably delineated and 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 original Blu-ray release for this film had a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel soundtrack. Like the video presentation I noted no distinctive difference between that and this DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio presentation. Here are some comments from my original review:
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 is distinctly perceptible and well articulated so that even subtle changes in the inflection of the voices among the cast was detectable. Sound effects are accurately placed within the sound field which establishes a tight correlation between the onscreen information and what was being heard within the room. This creates an immersive and involving soundscape that isn’t overly aggressive but is 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 is unquestionably the star of the show and it sounds magnificent throughout. It appreciably enhances the motorcycle chase sequence as the orchestrated instrumentation drove the spirited action that culminates in the library. It is 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 provides tactilely dynamic impact that is 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 is a great audio presentation that seems reminiscent of the earlier Indiana Jones films. I think that that is due in part to the use of many of the sound effects and music utilized in the first three but it is obvious that this mix didn’t go overboard by being too bombastic like some of today’s action based films.
Video rating = 90 Audio rating = 92
- (HD) * New* On the set with Raiders of the Lost Ark:
- From jungle to desert – 29 minute documentary
- From adventure to legend – 28 minute documentary
- From jungle to desert – 29 minute documentary
- The making of Raiders of the Lost Ark – (previously unavailable on DVD) 57 minute 1981 Documentary film
- The making of Raiders of the Lost Ark – 51 minute documentary
- The making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – 41 minute documentary
- The making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 35 minute documentary
- (HD) The making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – 28 minutes
- The stunts of Indiana Jones – 11 minutes
- The sound of Indiana Jones – 13 minutes
- The music of Indiana Jones – 12 minutes
- The light and magic of Indiana Jones – 12 minutes
- Raiders: The melting face! – 8 minute featurette
- Indiana Jones and the creepy crawlies (with optional pop-ups) 11 minutes
- Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups) 10 minutes
- Indy’s women: The American Film Institute tribute – 9 minutes
- (HD) Iconic props – 9 minutes
- (HD) The effects of Indy – 22 minutes
- (HD) Adventures in post production – 12 minutes
Indiana Jones needs little introduction and has thrilled fans the world over since his introduction in 1981. The creative collaboration of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas treated us to a swashbuckling action/adventure hero that entertained a new generation. There have been varying degrees of devotion to each installment with everyone (including this humble writer) agreeing that Raiders of the Lost Ark is the series crowing achievement. No matter which is your favorite there is no question that we have all impatiently waited for the Indiana Jones films to come to Blu-ray. They have arrived and there's no question that they have never looked better on home video.
I am a bit disappointed in the video quality of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Director Steven Spielberg oversaw its restoration so I guess we will have to assume that what we see is what he intended. I am not sure if that will be consolation to those hoping for reference quality video but truth be told it still looks very good in high definition. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio surround mixes compliment each film with John Williams’ memorable music featured center stage. Paramount has included a great supplemental offering including two brand new behind the scenes documentaries for Raiders. I am thrilled to add Indiana Jones: The complete adventures to my Blu-ray library and while I’m sure most of you have already it preordered I’ll say it anyway, it comes highly recommended.
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