The cinematic classic that started it all—Raiders of the Lost Ark—celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, having first introduced audiences to the man with the hat on June 12, 1981. Forty years later, the legendary hero continues to captivate new generations of fans. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray debut of Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection from Paramount Home Entertainment.

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The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89



Details:

Studio and Year: Paramount -1981, 1984, 1989, 2008
MPAA Rating: PG, PG-13
Feature running time: 118, 115, 127, 122 minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description (Crystal Skull)
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Denholm Elliott, Paul Freeman, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan, Sean Connery, Alison Doody, River Phoenix, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Lawrence Kasdan, William Huyck, Gloria Katz, Jeffrey Boam, David Koepp
Region Code: A


Release Date: June 8, 2021


"The Man in the Hat Gets a Facelift"


Synopsis:

The cinematic classic that started it all—Raiders of the Lost Ark—celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, having first introduced audiences to the man with the hat on June 12, 1981. Forty years later, the legendary hero continues to captivate new generations of fans. – Paramount Home Entertainment

My Take:

I reviewed Indian Jones: The Complete Adventures when it was released on Blu-ray in 2012. I have included comments from that review here. The ratings for the film and previously released bonus material are the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video and Dolby Atmos sound are below.

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 an 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. 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 buildup, which is where it fell short. Regardless, part of the fun is getting there and that is where the positive attributes lie in 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 way 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 per se 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.

According to the press documentation each film has been meticulously remastered from 4K scans of the original negatives with extensive visual effects work done to ensure the most pristine and highest quality image. All picture work was approved by director Steven Spielberg. In addition, all four films were remixed at Skywalker Sound under the supervision of legendary sound designer Ben Burtt to create the Dolby Atmos® soundtracks. All original sound elements were used to achieve the fully immersive Dolby Atmos® mixes while staying true to each film’s original creative intent.

The five-disc set comes housed in a keep case with a foldout configuration with the overlapping holders for the discs. This slides into an embossed slipcover that feels pretty flimsy.


Replay Value:



Parental Guide:

The ratings 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.



UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 93
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:


UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 93
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • HDR: Dark Highlights:
    • HDR: Bright Highlights:
    • HDR: Expanded Color:
    • Resolution:
    • Visual Impact:




Dolby Atmos Rating: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)



    • Level of immersion:
    • Soundstage integration:
    • Audio object placement:
    • Effectiveness of Atmos platform:
    • Entertainment factor:



Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Paramount Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

According to the press documentation Paramount remastered Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection from the original film elements. Each presentation in Ultra HD is derived from the 4K Digital Intermediate.

It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. Each of these films have an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that may not result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.

Looking at these presentations the benefits of not only the restoration, but the Ultra HD treatment, are blatantly obvious. From a cinematic perspective, these films were shot with a specific visual aesthetic in mind, and that comes through in each presentation. These easily best the original 1080p versions, offering imagery that lifts the vail. The iconic opening scene in Raiders has never looked better. The interstitials in the various levels of gray/black in the cave provide excellent dimension. The bright white of streaming sunlight is emboldened appearing punchy without loss of detail. The sun splashed sequences in Cairo beginning with Indy and Marion’s meeting with Sallah at his home followed by the always entertaining market scene looked stunning. The same is true of the opening sequences in both Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


The benefits of high dynamic range and wide color gamut are on display as earth toned colors have an added dimension that enlivens shots where they would normally have blended in, being seen as a less provocative background element that would generally go unnoticed. The films color base and variants of sepia are beautifully rendered, offering eye catching depth, that compliments the thematic tone. The pyrotechnics involving the opened ark during the finale in Raiders, the fiery lava/mines in Temple of Doom and the rocket sled/nuclear explosion in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull have lots of pop.

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 appears intact.

Resolution in general, is excellent as interior and mid-level shots offer clarity, detail and dimension that belie the age of the first three films. Blacks are noise free, stable and fairly deep. Contrast and brightness are balanced well which enliven brighter scenes and colors while maintaining an appreciable level of visibility and dimension during darker segments. Grain is visible in fine even layers with no egregious signs of image degrading digital noise reduction.

The video has an undisturbed and visibly grainy texture that occasionally takes on more emphasis but, I never found it bothersome. Other than a hand full of shots where innate softening creeps in these video renderings looks solid.

Raiders of the Lost Ark


Ultra HD Video Rating: 94


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Many of the attributes previously mentioned with respect to the overall quality of these renderings applies to Temple of Doom. On the other hand, it didn’t have the consistency of Raiders in terms of the handling of its delineation in low-level scenes such as those that take place on the dark streets in the opening segment or the entry into the caverns just before Indy and Short Round become sealed in the chamber with the spikes. This was also the case with definition, where a handful of shots didn’t have the depth/sharpness that generally applied to the presentation as a whole. Otherwise, I found it to be pleasing with ample resolution, emboldened color reproduction and fair dynamism.


Ultra HD Video Rating: 88


Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Last Crusade and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull are the best-looking presentations in the set offering impressive levels of detail, contrast and eye-catching dynamism.

Ultra HD Video Rating: 96



Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.

Comparing the DV and HDR10 presentations for Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection, I found the HDR to be extremely close. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were negligible. Again, I want to emphasize that these films predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the engaging type of HDR that makes the format shine. In my opinion discerning viewers will be pleased in either regard.


Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos soundtracks, across the board, I was pleased with how active each mix is. The use of overhead sound objects elevates proportional correlation. When compared to the 5.1 channel mixes, the immersive sound offers a noticeable improvement by opening up the soundstage, elevating the perception of low-level detail. During the various encounters/action/interior/exterior venues featured in each film, the tracks brim with atmospherics, off screen cues and discrete sound effects that when applied using the freedom of object-based placement adds an enriching layer to each films soundtrack. This is noticeable right from the beginning, with noteworthy examples being found throughout.

When called for the Dolby Atmos mixes took a subtle or more active approach, and conveyed the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtracks while adding a complimentary element.

** Here is another recent release from Paramount that has instances of questionable dynamics/bass response (The Dolby Atmos mix on War of the Worlds comes to mind for the same reason). The low frequency effects channel in the new mix has been tamped down, leaving memorable scenes like the opening in Raiders with its rolling boulders and moving stone walls/doors or the various explosions in Last Crusade lacking the palpability they had on previous home video releases. Depending on which scene in which film you’re watching the difference can be subtle of quite obvious. I didn’t find this to be such an issue with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull which had ample low-end weight where expected.

Dynamic range doesn’t appear to be impacted as the track sounds dynamic when called upon. Bass is certainly present but, just doesn’t hit as hard. For the life of me I can’t imagine why the sound designer would make such a deleterious change. Aside from this the tracks are quite good.

This oversight has taken what should have been a noteworthy upgrade and made it questionable for fans that have reveled in its attributes. My Atmos rating system doesn’t have a parameter that takes low frequency effects into account so this will be reflected under the Entertainment Factor rating parameter.


For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 4: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 5: Special Features Blu-ray (Legacy Content)
    • 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)
     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
    • 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 (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
     The Effects of Indy (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
     Adventures in Post Production (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) (HD)
  • Collectible Map



Final Thoughts:

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 crowning 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 Ultra HD Blu-ray. They have arrived and there’s no question that they have never looked better on home video.

I am disappointed in the general lack of supporting bass in the new sound mixes for the first three films but, aside from that, found the Dolby Atmos application to be complimentary across the board. I am not sure if that will be consolation to those hoping for reference quality all around audio but, truth be told, overall, these present quite nicely, warts and all. I wish I could give this release a resounding thumb’s up but, I will say that in general, I am happy to own them and believe that as a whole, they are definitely worth purchase consideration.












Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from Portrait.com)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7706 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Oppo BDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
SVS Ultra Tower Speakers (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Center Channel (Gloss Finish)
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Niles Audio In-Ceiling/In-Wall Series Speakers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems