Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures

In May 1977, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were vacationing in Hawaii together. Spielberg already had the biggest box-office hit of all time under his belt: a little film called Jaws; and Lucas was hiding out from what he was certain would be a monumental disaster: a pet project of his called Star Wars. After Star Wars exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and then some, Spielberg and Lucas sat and mused about future projects. Spielberg expressed a boyish desire to direct a James Bond adventure. Lucas replied, “I’ve got that beat.” Three years later, Lucas, Spielberg, and crew went to work making a film that was conceived as a throwback to the old classic adventure serials of the 1930s and ’40s, featuring a brand-new character: a globe-trotting archaeologist named Indiana Jones. In June 1981, I found myself begging my parents to take me to see a new movie called Raiders of the Lost Ark, a film I knew nothing about except that it starred the guy who played Han Solo, and that was enough for me. When I left the theater that afternoon, I was a changed person.

At long last, Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures is available in high definition. After repeated tampering with the Star Wars films, legions of fans have been put off to the point of swearing on a stack of bibles to never give their Uncle George another nickel of their hard-earned ducats in protest. I’m happy to report that there are no such egregious changes to the story lines or scenery here. Swastikas are still swastikas, and Indy still shoots first in cold blood. Even all the continuity errors and gaffe mistakes are completely intact. Bless you, Uncle Steven. And saints be praised and glory hallelujah, Raiders of the Lost Ark has been given a complete digital frame-by-frame picture restoration, and the result is truly breathtaking. It literally has never looked this good. After years of personally charting the progression of this film through all of its permutations from VHS to Laserdisc to DVD, I ought to know. Some soft focus and blur is still apparent in the early jungle scenes, and the grain of the film stock is noticeable but only upon close scrutiny. But these are minor gripes.

While Temple of Doom and Last Crusade unfortunately didn’t merit the same level of TLC that Raiders did, the new HD transfers of both those films are tremendous nonetheless. Minor blemishes and errant film grain are present as before, but the colors, sharpness, and clarity are consistent and excellent. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull sports the same pristine transfer of the Blu-ray issue from a few years ago but has been substantially upgraded from a Dolby TrueHD sound mix to a rousing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and it’s the clear winner here. All four films in the series have received the DTS-HD deluxe acoustic treatment, and it basically bitch-slaps every previous surround mix thus far offered. Big surprise there. Having seen these films countless times and being accustomed to every audible nuance to the point of memorization, I was hearing subtle ambient background noises and detail I’d never noticed before. The thrilling action sequences are pure dynamite as well, both literally and figuratively.

Much of the seven hours’ worth of documentaries and featurettes are imported straight from the original DVD collection and the previously issued Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Blu-ray. The headliner is a brand-new documentary in two parts called On the Set of Raiders of the Lost Ark, which is a montage of outtakes and deleted scenes mixed with vintage behind-the-scenes stock footage that covers the film from beginning to end. It offers a fascinating insight into the making of the film and Spielberg’s directorial method. And since Spielberg has never done an audio commentary on any of his films and probably never will, this is as close a glimpse as we’re apt to get, and we’ll happily take it.

If your appreciation of these films is as reverent as mine, your nirvana has arrived. And if you pass up this opportunity because of some misplaced animosity toward Lucas, the person, you’ll be shortchanging yourself. On a personal note, I’d just like to thank my two favorite uncles, Steven and George, for all the amazing adventures, a wealth of childhood memories, and literally instilling in me my love of the movies.

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Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Studio: Paramount, 1981
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 115 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies

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Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Studio: Paramount, 1984
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 118 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan

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Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Studio: Paramount, 1989
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 129 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody

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Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
Studio: Paramount, 2008
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio Format: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Length: 122 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Shia LaBeouf
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COMMENTS
AYColumbia's picture

Wasn't it the Temple of Doom that resulted in creating the PG-13 rating as it wasn't really R but many found it too violent/intense for PG?

Also, when I watched Raiders, I found the soft focus/blurry scenes most prominent in the very end when Indy and Marion are walking down the steps after Indy met with folks about where the Ark is being stored. I noticed others but not as distracting.

Looking forward to watching TTOD and TLC.

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