INDIANA JONES: THE COMPLETE ADVENTURES - Blu-ray review

The "Indy" films are among that rare breed that have their tongue planted firmly in their cheek but never ridicule the action-adventure style; they're entertaining with their high spirits and good humor, while being serious participants in the genre.

John J. Puccio's picture
John J.
Puccio

"Meet me at Omar's. Be ready for me. I'm going after that truck."
"How?"
"I don't know, I'm making this up as I go!"

And, lo, the skies did open and there burst forth on Blu-ray "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, the "Alien" quadrilogy, the "Star Wars" sextril..., sixtrol..., six of 'em.  And life was good.  Now, "The Indiana Jones" series reaches BD, and the world is complete.

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Paramount Home Media collaborated on the full restoration of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" under the supervision of director Steven Spielberg and sound designer Ben Burtt, and they digitally remastered the picture and sound of "The Temple of Doom" and "The Last Crusade" alongside "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."  In addition, they included in the set a bonus disc of documentaries, featurettes, and interviews.  Lions and tiger and bears.  Oh, my....

In the American Film Institute's 2003 poll of top movie heroes, Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) placed second behind Atticus Finch, the courageous lawyer from "To Kill a Mockingbird."  Given that Finch is a decidedly nontraditional hero, we can safely assume the folks at the AFI think Indy is the best conventional, swashbuckling action hero of all time.

Not that we needed the AFI's word on the matter.  Indy is a lot of people's favorite hero, with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" regularly winning viewer-opinion polls as the best adventure film ever made.  So, here he is in full, high-definition picture and sound in "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," packaged in big BD box set.

Probably everyone by now knows the genesis of the movies.  Back in the late Seventies, buddies George Lucas and Steven Spielberg had just come off the successes of "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" respectively, and they wanted to do something different, something old-fashioned, something that didn't rely on flashy, outer-space technology.  Spielberg had been wanting to do a James Bond-type epic, and Lucas had just the right story idea.  They settled on a homage to the movie serials of their youth--the brief, one-reel cliff-hangers they remembered from Saturday afternoon chapters of children's adventures that featured heroes like Jack Armstrong, Flash Gordon, Commando Cody, Dick Tracy, Zorro, Ace Drummond, Captain America, Buck Rogers, Terry and the Pirates, Spy Smasher, and the Masked Marvel.  They made their hero an archaeologist and named him after Lucas's dog.  They borrowed Indy's hat from Humphrey Bogart in "Treasure of the Sierra Madre," the leather jacket from Commando Cody, and the bullwhip from the likes of Lash La Rue and Whip Wilson.  My guess is that Lucas and Spielberg also patterned their hero in part after the fictional character Allan Quatermain, H. Rider Haggard's adventurer in "King Solomon's Mines" (1885); and in an ironic twist, Sean Connery, who plays Indiana's father in "The Last Crusade," starred as Quartermain in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (2003).

All the while, Lucas and Spielberg had Tom Selleck in mind for the hero, but Selleck was doing the "Magnum, P.I." television show at the time, so then they considered other people like Nick Nolte.  Instead, the role of Indiana Jones went fortuitously to Harrison Ford, the haughty rogue of the initial "Star Wars" saga, and the rest is history.  Of course, we'll never know how good Selleck or Nolte might have been, but there's no doubt about Ford.  His modesty, charm, and self-effacing style combined with a virile strength and masculinity that appealed as much to men as to women, and as much to adults as to children.  With Lucas co-writing and co-producing and Spielberg co-writing and directing, the series became an instant success.

Incidentally, a cliff-hanger (or cliffhanger) for those of you too young or too uninformed to know is a precarious ending to a chapter, often used in old-time movie serials, leaving audiences in suspense and wanting to come back for the next installment; things like the hero hanging off a cliff (naturally), falling from an airplane, or apparently being blasted to smithereens by a bomb exploding under his seat.  Today, the word "cliff-hanger" refers to any suspenseful predicament of which the outcome is uncertain until the very last moment.  The "Indiana Jones" movies are a succession of cliff-hangers, and what fun Lucas and Spielberg must have had (and must still be having) concocting them.  In a series of episodic adventures, the stories subject poor Indy to everything from tarantula spiders to deadly snakes, giant rolling balls to medieval snares, near-fatal pitfalls to atomic bombs and the fires of hell.  And Nazis.  Two of the adventures feature Nazis.  "I hate these guys," says Indy in a moment of supreme understatement.

The "Indy" films are among that rare breed that have their tongue planted firmly in their cheek but never ridicule the action-adventure style; they're entertaining with their high spirits and good humor, while being serious participants in the genre.  "The Crimson Pirate" (1952) was able to poke good-natured fun at pirate movies while being a great swashbuckler in its own right; and many of the Bonds pay friendly homage to spy capers while being suspenseful and exciting spy capers themselves.  Likewise, the "Indiana Jones" films take great joy in having fun with action-adventure flicks at the same time they establish themselves as the foremost champions of such thrillers.  It's not an easy accomplishment.

"Raiders of the Lost Ark":
Anyway, it all started in 1981 with "Raiders of the Lost Ark," a title that had more than a few folks puzzled.  As the Wife-O-Meter and I were leaving a theater in the San Francisco Bay Area after seeing "Raiders" for the first time, we overheard a teenage girl saying to her companion, "I liked the movie, but why did they call it 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'?  I didn't see any football players in it."  Honest.  True story.

In "Raiders" the time is 1936, and Jones, a professor of archaeology, is hunting for the Ark of the Covenant, the chest containing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the most sacred object of the ancient Israelites and thought lost after the sacking of the Temple in Jerusalem, where the Israelites kept it in the Holy of Holies.  In the movie, Indy tells us the Ark possesses tremendous supernatural powers, carrying with it "the wrath of God," thus making it a subject of interest to Adolph Hitler, who in real life believed to some extent in the occult and actually did try to collect various reputedly metaphysical items.

The U.S. Government wants the Ark before the Nazis can get it, and they send Jones, an expert on such matters, out to look for it.  Along the way, Indy meets his old sweetheart, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen), still the best of the "Indiana Jones" female leads for her intelligence and spunk.  Then there are the good guys who help Indy:  Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) and Sallah (John Rhys-Davies); and the baddies, Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), a rival archaeologist out for himself alone, and Toht (Ronald Lacey), a Gestapo agent who gets one the best laughs in the film from a coat hanger.  Everyone knows the rest, the giant rolling ball, the spiders, the snakes ("Why'd it have to be snakes?"), the shoot-outs, the adventures continuing from what appears to be the West Coast to Nepal to Egypt to heaven knows where else.  And all along the way, there's one hairbreadth escape after another.  Classic stuff.  Trust me.

Film rating:  10/10

"Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom":
A few years after "Raiders," in 1984, Lucas and Spielberg tried to top themselves with the second Indiana Jones installment, "The Temple of Doom."  Attempting to make the new film as different as possible from the first one yet retain the adventurous atmosphere, they set it in China and India, gave Indy a kid for a sidekick, and provided him with a stereotypical ditzy blonde girlfriend rather than the plucky and resourceful Marion of the earlier film.  They also took out the Nazis, set it a year earlier in 1935, confined three-quarters of it to a single locale, the cavernous underground depths of a mountain temple, and designed the plot around a group of children in jeopardy.  The result was a film that felt more claustrophobic than its predecessor and an adventure that was darker and more somber.  In fact, the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board considered several scenes in the film so grisly, it later inspired them to come up with the now-familiar PG-13 classification to supplement their regular PG.  The filmmakers even toned down the original title, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Death."

"Temple of Doom" pays homage to any number of classic films along the course of its plot, beginning with "Casablanca," Ford in the Bogey role, continuing with "Gunga Din," and adding bits and pieces of things like "Chandu the Magician" and "The Pied Piper," among others.  Indy's job in this one is to retrieve a sacred stone stolen from an Indian village, a stone the villagers believe brings them good fortune.  Without it, their land has gone to waste and their children are disappearing.  Turns out, the children are being kidnapped by a nearby Thuggee cult to work in the mines beneath an abandoned Hindu temple, Pankot Palace.

The filmmakers strove mightily to outdo "Raiders," but rather than the adventure springing naturally from the story line, they generated most of the excitement this time from a sequence of gross-out gags and several exhilarating stunts.  There's a banquet scene, for instance, that features monkey brains, eels, eyeball soup, and various huge bugs to eat; there's a segment with a Thuggee priest reaching into a man's chest and pulling out his heart; and there's a passageway filled with creepy-crawly insects that is an obvious endeavor to one-up the snakes in "Raiders."  The three best action sequences are a fight on a narrow rope bridge and two amusement park-type attractions, a bobsled ride down a Himalayan peak and a wild, heart-pounding roller-coaster ride inside the temple's subterranean tunnels.  The latter is the highlight of the film.

Assisting Indy this time out are Kate Capshaw as Willie Scott, an American nightclub singer who gets shanghaied into the adventure, and eleven-year-old Jonathan Ke Quan as Short Round, a young friend who comes along willingly.  Ms. Capshaw was one of a multitude of women who auditioned for the part, by the way, and the film is where she first meet Spielberg; they married several years later.  Indian actor Amrish Puri and TV and film actor Roshan Seth play the villains, Mola Ram, leader of the Thuggee cult, and Chattar Lal, the shifty prime minister, respectively.  Also look for a bit part by Dan Aykroyd.

Film rating:  8/10

"Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade":
"The Temple of Doom" had been another smash success with the public, but so many critics assailed it for its dark tone that Lucas and Spielberg went back to their roots, so to speak, with the third installment, "The Last Crusade" (1989).  Indeed, almost everything about "The Last Crusade" harks back to "Raiders," from plot to characters.  The result is more satisfying than "Temple of Doom," although throughout the film it seems as though we've been there before.

In this third episode, set in 1938, two years after "Raiders," Indy is trying to find the legendary Holy Grail, the cup from which legend says Christ drank at the Last Supper and into which his blood poured on the cross.  The Grail was the object of quests in the Arthur tradition, and in the film it possesses the power of healing and rejuvenation.  Naturally, Hitler and the Nazis are after it, too.

The film's structure is much the same as "Raiders," starting with a mini adventure about Indy as a Boy Scout (River Phoenix); it has little to do with the rest of the story except to set the pace and provide some historical data on how Indy became afraid of snakes, learned to use a bullwhip, received the scar on his chin, and got his famous hat.  As usual, though, this prologue is one of the best parts of the picture.

The filmmakers opened up the movie to more exotic locales, this time Italy, Austria, Germany, and the Middle East (Petra, in Jordan).  They also brought back a couple of old faces in expanded parts, John Rhys-Davies and the late Denholm Elliot, and introduced several new characters, Julian Glover as Walter Donovan, a wealthy industrialist, and Alison Doody as Dr. Elsa Schneider, a love interest in the form of a femme fatale.

Most important, however, they brought in Sean Connery as Indy's dad, Professor Henry Jones, Sr., a high-minded father whose expectations his son was never able to meet.  But as a twist, they made the usually intrepid Connery an ultraconservative academician, shocked by his son's constant adventures and wild heroics.  Only once, when Connery clamps his hand on a Nazi thug, do we see the old, indomitable Bond showing through the professor's befuddled, mild-mannered exterior.  Connery and Ford establish a remarkably likable on-screen relationship that helps sell the film.  According to the comments of Spielberg and Lucas, there was some disagreement about using Connery, the filmmakers worrying that audiences might associate him too much with 007.  But, then, they remembered that Bond was one of the fictional characters upon which they based their hero, so using Connery would bring the series full circle.  In any case, the father-son relationship is at the heart of the movie and differentiates the film from the others, making it, instead of a pure action picture, a character piece with action in it.  (As an aside, there is really only a twelve-year age difference between Connery and Ford, but who cares.)

As with the "Indy" films before it, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" relies on a succession of rousing escapades and hairbreadth escapes.  Many younger people of my acquaintance who came to the Indiana Jones series late, with "The Last Crusade" as their first encounter, have commented that they like it better than "Raiders," which to them seems too derivative of the series' later work.  Sorry, folks, other way around.  Nevertheless, although I personally find "The Last Crusade" a little less energetic and inspired than "Raiders," there is much to enjoy, and both pictures stand out as the best of the series.

Film rating:  9/10

"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull":
It's no "Raiders of the Lost Ark."  But what movie is?  Nor is it another "Temple of Doom" or "Last Crusade."  None of us is as young as we used to be, and it's hard to recapture the pleasures of the past, especially when those pleasures were as bright and bracing as they were in 1981's "Raiders" and its two immediate sequels.  What a lot of people forget is that while director Steven Spielberg and co-writer and executive producer George Lucas attempted in "Raiders" to make a movie based on all the old-time serials and cliff-hangers they remembered from their youth, they did so in an entirely new and refreshing way.  They practically reinvented the adventure-movie genre, and "Raiders" went on to spawn not only the three sequels we have now but a host of other adventure films that continue to this day.

In 2008's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" Spielberg and Lucas, after an absence from the series of nineteen years, tried to recover some of the old spark.  If they didn't entirely succeed, it wasn't for lack of trying.  In their enthusiasm, they just overdid it.

The fact is, though, that by now we've all become so used to the action-adventure epic that Spielberg and Lucas helped create, it's hard even for them to top themselves.  As a result, much of "The Crystal Skull" seems tired or recycled.  Yet that is, I'm sure, exactly what the filmmakers wanted.  It's supposed to remind viewers of the old days, and it does so at almost every turn.

Needless to say, the most important ingredient in the movie series is back:  Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., archaeologist and adventurer supreme.  I don't believe either of the filmmakers ever considered getting someone to replace Ford; he's the picture's greatest asset, regardless of his age.  Indeed, they made Ford's mid-sixties age an integral part of the movie, poking good-natured fun at it and heading off critics before they could make it an issue.  The very first time we see Indy, for instance, the filmmakers purposely give him a grizzled, disheveled, unshaven appearance in an effort to show him right off at his worst.  Get used to it, they're saying; we're all older (but better). 

Happily, Ford is as spry as ever, and his derring-do seems as plausible (or implausible) as ever.  Sure, he's older, but who cares.  He remains the best part of the show, which, unfortunately, still seems weary despite Ford's tireless energy.  I think it may have something to do with the times having changed, and maybe Spielberg and Lucas finding it hard to keep up.  The fact is, films like "Romancing the Stone," "National Treasure," and the "Die Hard" saga have set the mark pretty high for humorous adventure thrillers, and even the talents of Spielberg and Lucas aren't limitless.  Now, with the advent of CGI, computer graphics, replacing a lot of the old special effects and physical stunt work, the filmmakers must have found themselves hard pressed to surpass their old glories.  And they don't.  Instead, they seem content merely to imitate past brilliance.  I rather suspect it's what Indy fans wanted all along, in any case.

OK, it's been nineteen years since the last installment, which had taken place around 1938, just before the onset of World War II, and the filmmakers were smart enough to realize that Ford and company could not pretend that time hadn't marched on; there would be no more fighting Nazis.  They wisely set their story two decades later, in 1957.  A lot of things had happened in the meantime, which the plot reveals in casual, incidental ways, things like our learning that Indy was a hero in WWII, while he continued teaching and doing his archaeological work.

What had changed in the passing decades?  Just as the filmmakers had made the earlier movies relevant to the late 1930s, they had to make "Crystal Skull" relevant to the 1950's.  Accordingly, they included some important cultural icons of the period.  There was by then the Cold War and the Russian Communists.  There was the atomic bomb.  There were the reports of UFOs that Hollywood had capitalized on since the days of the Roswell incident and pilot Kenneth Arnold's "flying saucers."  There were the KGB and the Nazca lines and mind control and alien beings.  Naturally, Spielberg and Lucas seized on these ideas for their plot elements.

Yet, they needed a central object, a rare and sacred artifact, for Indy to pursue.  They had already used the Ark of the Covenant, the fabled Shankara Stones, and the Holy Grail.  What did they have left?  They could have gone with the Spear of Longinus (or Spear of Destiny), I suppose, but that might have been too much like the Grail.  They chose, instead, the mysterious crystal skulls, which some people claim are pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifacts of great spiritual significance.  The fact that a number of such skulls, some undoubtedly real and some probably fakes, already exist in the hands of collectors must have seemed beside the point.  Therefore, we have Indy going off seeking the crystal skull of all crystal skulls, the one that holds the secret of an ancient city of gold and arcane inter-dimensional beings or some such nonsense.

"Chariots of the Gods, man!"  --"The Thing"

The movie sets a tongue-in-cheek tone from the beginning by having the Paramount mountain logo turn into a prairie-dog mound.  That's pretty cute.  Then the filmmakers establish the time period by having a group of young people driving a hot rod while listening to Elvis's "Hound Dog."

With some old friends of the series no longer available for the newer film (Sean Connery, Indy's father in "The Last Crusade," chose not come out of retirement; Denholm Elliott, Marcus Brody, had passed away; and John Rhys-Davies, Sallah, is nowhere in sight), the filmmakers recruited a few new faces, as well as an old one.  The new faces include Shia LaBeouf as Mutt Williams, Indy's rebellious, long-lost son, showing up as a Marlon Brando "Wild One" look-alike; Jim Broadbent as Charles Stanforth, Indy's new college dean; Ray Winstone as "Mac" McHale, one of Indy's old adventuring companions; John Hurt as Professor Harold "Ox" Oxley, an intrepid archaeologist and close friend of the Jones family; and Cate Blanchett as Col. Dr. Irina Spalko, a nefarious, psychic harpy who seems patterned after James Bond villainesses like Rosa Kleb ("From Russia with Love") and Irma Bunt ("On Her Majesty's Secret Service), though less convincing.  The returning face is Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, Indy's old flame from "Raiders."  Ms. Allen's Marion is as plucky and feisty as ever and makes a welcome return to the series.

And the script gives its characters a few good one-liners:  "Put your hands down, will you?  You're embarrassing us," says Indy to Mac when armed baddies surround them.  "What are you, like, eighty?" Mutt asks Indy.  And when Indy shows his prowess in a fistfight, Mutt exclaims, "You're a teacher?"  Indy answers, "Part time."

The fact is, though, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" not only has an unwieldy title, it has far too much going on it.  Where the older films concentrated on a simple plot line--Indy chasing an artifact--this one gets tangled up with too many bad guys, too many peripheral characters, and too many narrative contrivances.  By the time it's over, the filmmakers have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink, a problem that plagued Lucas's last few "Star Wars" sequels as well.

Nuking the fridge becomes a defining moment in "The Crystal Skull," reminding us that this one is going more for silliness than for thrills.  Nevertheless, the thrills are there, and some of them are spectacular.  There's the usual globe-trotting to exotic locales; the usual assortment of high-octane chases and melodramatic encounters; the usual variety of unpleasant wildlife (snakes, ants, scorpions); the usual plethora of creepy-crawly dark places; the usual quota of ravishing scenery, most of it showing up in the last third of the picture; and the usual razzle-dazzle climax, this one reminiscent of the supernatural ending in "Raiders" but done up even more theatrically.  Meanwhile, you'll still hear the strains of the familiar John Williams musical score playing almost continuously in the background.

Everything you see in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is very much the same as you remember it from previous episodes, so it won't disappoint old fans.  The movie just never does anything particularly unusual or precedent-setting to position itself above its competition these days.  It's still fun, mind you, but not as much fun as we might have hoped.

To a lot of viewers "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" may seem a little shopworn or old hat (or old fedora, if you please), but, as I've said, I'm sure filmmakers Spielberg and Lucas meant it that way.  They tried to capture a new spirit in an old form, and while the ultimate result may have escaped them, you can't question their objectives.  What we have is nevertheless playful and entertaining, even if it looks, deliberately, as though we've seen it all before.

Film rating:  7/10

Video:
I quote from Paramount's press release, where they say "'Raiders of the Lost Ark' has been meticulously restored under the supervision of director Steven Spielberg and sound designer Ben Burtt.  Additionally, 'Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom' and 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade' have both been remastered alongside 2008's 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' making this landmark release the first time all four films in the epic and award-winning franchise have been available together in sparkling high definition."

Paramount used dual-layer BD50's, MPEG-4/AVC encodes, and THX standards for all four films, presenting them in their native aspect ratios, 2.35:1.  Despite the restoration, however, "Raiders" still looks the softest and most veiled of the four films, with faces decidedly too dark for absolute realism.  Colors, though, are mostly good, and in brighter-lit scenes they show up nicely.  One notices varying degrees of inherent print grain throughout the series, and it adds to the natural texture of the images.  "Temple of Doom" is slightly sharper and cleaner than "Raiders," although it's still a touch soft.  Colors are brighter, but faces remain dark.  "The Last Crusade" offers the brightest, sharpest, clearest PQ of the bunch, and it's a joy to watch.  For "Crystal Skull" the image appears a tad glassy at times and a tad too pastel at other times, but I suspect this was the director's intent because that was pretty much as I remember it from a motion-picture theater.  Maybe Spielberg figured these were the predominant shades of the Fifties and went accordingly.  I dunno.  Otherwise, you'll find brilliant hues in "Crystal Skull," again a light film grain, good definition, and only a few moments of softness.  Shadow detail and black levels are also strong, which go a long way toward mitigating some of my concerns about the fantasy colors.

Audio:
The Paramount audio engineers use lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 for the sound on all four movies.  While the surround effects on the first three films may not always be pinpoint discrete in the side and rear channels, they do produce a satisfyingly comfortable, enveloping dimensionality, evident from the start of "Raiders" with jungle sounds, birds, and music.  As we might expect with the fourth film, made well into the multichannel age, the surrounds yield a more immersive sensation.  There's generally a roaring bass present in all four films, taut and deep.  Also, there is a terrific dynamic impact in all the films, with strong, quick transient response.  Front-channel stereo spread is wide, and John Williams's lush scores get a lush treatment throughout.

Extras:
In this five-disc box set, disc one contains "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and teaser, theatrical, and reissue trailers (HD); disc two contains "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and teaser and theatrical trailers (HD); disc three contains "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and teaser and theatrical trailers (HD); and disc four contains "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and three theatrical trailers (HD).  The trailers for the first three films are in a 1.78:1 ratio; for the final film at 2.35:1.

The extras on the movie discs also include from sixteen to thirty-five scene selections each; bookmarks; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken languages and subtitles; English audio descriptions; and English captions for the hearing impaired.

Disc five is the main bonus disc, containing over seven hours of material on all four films.  Things begin with "On the Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark," which includes two parts:  "From Jungle to Desert" and "From Adventure to Legend," each clocking in at about twenty-nine minutes and each in high def.

Next, we find five making-of documentaries; these include "The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark" (from 1981 and previously unavailable on DVD) fifty-seven minutes; "The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark," more recently made, fifty minutes; "The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," also recently made, forty-one minutes; "The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," recently made, thirty-five minutes; and "The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (HD), obviously recently made, twenty-nine minutes.

After those we have a lengthy series of brief, behind-the-scenes featurettes, each of them from eight to twenty-two minutes long; however, there is no "Play All" button, so you need to slog through them one at a time.  These include "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's Tribute," "Indy's Friends and Enemies," "Iconic Props" ("Crystal Skull," HD), "The Effects of Indy" ("Crystal Skull," HD), and "Adventures in Post Production" ("Crystal Skull, HD).

The five discs come packaged in a hardcover album with their own sleeves, the album further enclosed in a colorful, handsomely embossed, stiff-cardboard box.  It makes for a classy affair, although I wish the studio hadn't used the separate sleeves for each disc because it makes it hard to get the discs out without putting your fingerprints on them.  Be careful.

Parting Thoughts:
Whoopi Goldberg once remarked that "Movies are supposed to be big, because if they're not, they're television."  Well, the Indiana Jones movies are big, and it's a shame most of us can't enjoy them in our homes in the sheer size that motion-picture theaters display them.  But these new Paramount Blu-ray transfers are probably as close as we're going to get.  They're bold and beautiful, and, depending on your television screen, they're big enough.

The ratings below are my averaged scores for all four films, with "Raiders" the best movie, "The Last Crusade" having the best picture quality, and "Crystal Skull" the best sound.

"You call this archeology?!"
--Sean Connery, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"

Ratings

Video
8
Audio
8
Extras
9
Film Value
8