Review: Indiana Jones swings onto Blu-ray in high style
Review • If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones. And if high-definition Blu-ray has a name, it must be "Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures."
All four blockbuster films in one of Hollywood's most successful movie series starring Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, and directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by George Lucas are finally landing on Blu-ray Tuesday, Sept. 19, and the wait was well worth it.
Thanks to careful restoration efforts in consultation with Spielberg, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," have arrived on the high-definition format with vivid pictures and ear-shattering sound that defy their decades-old age. Only the last in the series, the alien-infested nonsense (which is just plain bad), "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," was released on Blu-ray before.
The real discovery in this five-disc set (the fifth is a disc of extras) is the meticulous restoration of "Raiders," where a team of digital experts scrubbed the 31-year-old movie movie clean of artifacts, dust, dirt and scratches to make the film appear as crisp, clear and detailed as when it first unspooled in movie theaters in 1981. The sound also has been punched up, as the movie's original sound designer, Ben Burtt, supervised a new soundtrack, featuring a fuller, more enveloping musical score by John Williams. The soundtrack also expanded some of the movie's original effects (but never altered) to a new 5.1 surround-sound field. The result is a pulse-pounding rumble when the boulder comes rolling toward Indy in the movie's famous opening scene.
"Temple of Doom" and "Last Crusade" were merely remastered for Blu-ray but not restored like "Raiders," as those later films were in better condition, but they still look as pristine as any film on Blu-ray. "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which is only four years old, looks as good as it first came out on Blu-ray. Unfortunately, you can't buy these movies separately but only in its $100 set.
All of the extras from the previous DVD release of the films, including making-of featurettes, were ported over to this set's fifth disc. And all of the featurettes from the "Crystal Skull" Blu-ray are included here as well.
The real treat for diehard "Raiders" fans is the inclusion of a new documentary on the making of the movie that includes deleted scenes and outtakes that have never been released before, including a scene of Indy fighting a swordfighter with his whip (Spielberg had Indy famously shoot him instead).
This is one of a series of blockbuster films to arrive on Blu-ray, with Spielberg's latest classic, "E.T.: The Extraterrestrial" set to be released on Oct. 9, while "Lawrence of Arabia" arrives Nov. 13. "Jaws" has been released on disc with an equally remarkable restoration, and the "Star Wars" saga was released but with Lucas' widely-derided changes.
However, this is a pitch-perfect port of the Indiana Jones movies for a new generation, with none of the re-edits, computer-graphic touch-ups or horrifying revisionist-history makeovers that plagued the "Star Wars" films on Blu-ray.
Consider this simple swashbuckling adventure from one of Hollywood's most creative directors.