Indiana Jones Collection – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Indiana Jones

Raiders of the Lost Ark

In 1981, longtime friends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided to create a tribute to classic Saturday-afternoon cliffhanger serials. That film became Raiders of the Lost Ark, which introduced us to the iconic hero, Indiana Jones. With Raiders, Spielberg and Lucas wanted to create an homage to the Saturday action matinees they loved as kids. “I made it as a B-movie. I didn’t see the film as anything more than a better made version of the Republic serials,” Spielberg said. Spielberg and Lucas took this simple B-movie homage and turned it into an instant classic.

Not to mention, the adventure that screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan presents is hard to match. The magic of this film just can’t be replicated by modern filmmaking techniques. The quick-and-dirty practical effects of the time are top-notch and align so well with what Spielberg wanted to accomplish. Just imagine Toht’s melting face with CGI, and it wouldn’t have the same impact.

Also, what makes the film so good is the perfect marriage of Harrison Ford and the material. Unfortunately, Lucas repeatedly said that he didn’t want Harrison Ford to be his “Robert De Niro.” Thus, the search was on for someone else to play him. However, after the loss of Tom Selleck to his Magnum P.I. contract, Spielberg suggested that they take a look once again at Harrison Ford. As they say, the rest is history. Ford brings every bit of his indelible charm and style to Indy. Every hero needs an antagonist, and Indy’s clever rival that plagues him at every turn is portrayed so well by Paul Freeman. 

Overall, Raiders of the Lost Ark is a one-of-a-kind film that revolutionized the adventure for years to come. Romancing the StoneTomb Raider, and Uncharted would not be what they are today without this film. After 40 years, Raiders still hasn’t lost its luster and remains a classic to this very day.

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Although Raiders of the Lost Ark got everything right, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom get everything wrong. The film is full of exciting moments. However, Temple of Doom doesn’t do it for the story’s sake but to create as much action as possible. As a result, the plot is formulaic, and the supporting characters are very annoying.

To its credit, George Lucas refused to sit on their laurels and recreate their successes. Therefore, screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz had to figure out to recapture the magic without succumbing to the temptation of cloning Raiders. So George Lucas had the idea to follow Empire Strikes Back‘s formula by going dark. While A New Hope had the bones set up for a follow-up, Temple of Doom had to create a brand new adventure. This creative freedom opens up so many opportunities with the plot—particularly the character motivation and archetypes. Unfortunately, as with all experimentation, there are hits and misses.

The film that emerges from this isn’t necessarily good. It’s not just the dark tone, but it’s also the awful nature of Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw). It’s not just that Willie is annoying, however. The problem is that she steals all of the attention and action from others and adds very little to the storyline. There’s a fine line between a character being funny and being an annoyance, and unfortunately, Willie pushes well past that line. That’s not to take away anything from Capshaw’s performance, though. She does what she can with the material given to her. It’s just that the material, in this case, isn’t as strong as the other films in the franchise. Indiana Jones is full of strong women characters that started with Karen Allen’s iconic Marion Ravenwood.

Although it’s heavily criticized for its dark tone, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is bold in experimenting with the franchise and not relying on the success of Raiders. Although Jake Tapper originally thought that’s Temple of Doom is one of Spielberg’s worst films (that film is upcoming in this review), it’s still a fun and watchable sequel that continues the harrowing exploits of Indiana Jones.

Movie Rating: 3/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

As the old adage goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” While Temple of Doom admirably tried to go for something different, there is a horde of people who consider it a subpar entry. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, however, takes us back to what made Raiders so beloved. The blending of historical events, battling Nazis, MacGuffins based on religious artifacts all wrapped up in a globetrotting adventure all make a return in the Last Crusade. Only this time, we have the legendary Sean Connery playing Indy’s father.

Spielberg has said before that he’s always wanted to make a 007 film. Yet George Lucas told him that he has something better than 007. That “something better” was Raiders of the Lost Ark. For the Last Crusade, the James Bond influence is brought to the forefront because, of course, only Sean Connery can portray Indy’s dad. Both actors just exude charisma, and the two of them share great chemistry when they’re onscreen together. Not to mention, it’s always fun to see typecast tough guys play bumbling fools—something that Sean Connery plays very well in Crusade

However, Indy is not the kind of Bond that we’re used to. The Last Crusade shows Indy is the exact opposite of Bond. He trusts everyone and pays the price, he brings friends on the journey who make everything more difficult for him, and he doesn’t get his way all the time. Indiana Jones is too human to be James Bond. Nevertheless, Spielberg doesn’t rely solely on Indy’s exploits anyway. He includes plenty of delightful supporting characters, comedy relief, religious MacGuffins, iconic set pieces, and exciting action sequences. That’s the Indiana Jones we know and love. 

Overall, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is a perfect return to form for Steven Spielberg and the entire cast and crew of the franchise. The Last Crusade brings back the spirit that made the franchise so fun. That’s what makes this an exhilarating finale to the series…

Movie Rating: 5/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

…Or so we thought. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is disappointing to an unspeakable level for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. They have added another entry to a great franchise and packed it full of unnecessary absurdity. Gone are Lucas and Spielberg’s nostalgic homage to the Saturday action matinees of their youth. Instead, Lucas and Spielberg decided to pay tribute to the pulpy sci-fi films that dominated the era.

Unfortunately, the creative rut that plagued Lucas during the Star Wars prequels has reared its ugly head here. Crystal Skull reverts unimaginatively back to concepts that afflicted Temple of Doom. The Russians have replaced the Nazis, the illogical has replaced the logical, and aliens have replaced the occult. 

Yet, the film tries to make as many references to the original trilogy as possible. With Crystal Skull, they bring back the beloved Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). Not to mention, the tropes are all present: the gross-out creatures (albeit CG), nonstop action sequences, and Indy going on an expedition to find a MacGuffin. Yet, for all of its attempts to make Crystal Skull a fitting addition to the Indy franchise, none of it works. In fact, the Indiana Jones ride at the Disney Parks feels more like a part of the franchise than this film does.

First of all, the quick-and-dirty practical effects that dominated the first three films (and fit the B-movie homage) are gone for a slicker CG aesthetic. At the same time, the characters in Crystal Skull are simple one-dimensional characters coupled with the flat performances by some usually reliable actors. Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, and Jim Broadbent are all underused. Unusually, Spielberg missed so many opportunities with the talent at his disposal. Then again, much of that has to do with David Koepp’s lackluster screenplay. The screenplay lacks focus and direction, the jokes fall flat, and the finale is so anticlimactic.

Overall, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an embarrassing and forgettable entry in the Indiana Jones franchise. It’s considered one of the worst films that Spielberg has ever made. Lucas, Spielberg, and Ford had said long before the film’s Cannes debut that this a film for the fans. Unfortunately, fans such as myself are quick to dismiss the fourth entry into the franchise. Hopefully, James Mangold can recapture some of the magic and goodwill that was lost with Crystal Skull.

Movie Rating: 0.5/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark - Harrison Ford

Video

All of the Ultra HD Blu-rays in the Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection comes with an HDR10/Dolby Vision transfer and a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. As a whole, the Ultra HD presentation for all four films is phenomenal. The brightness of each film shines brightly like the Sankara stones coming together. At the same time, the black levels provide the shadows with an inky black color—none that have any crush on it. When it comes to the colors, the odd-numbered films in the franchise have a more reserved palette. However, the even-numbered films are much more colorful, which are highlighted thanks to the HDR/Dolby Vision technology. Right from the get-go with Temple of Doom and Crystal Skull, you can see how it emboldens the colors—especially the bright neon lights of Shanghai in Temple

Of course, the more recent the film, the clearer the picture gets. Then again, the picture for all four films is still crystal clear despite most of the films being made in the 80s. So that means yes, Raiders of the Lost Ark looks phenomenal despite being 40-years-old. Except for Crystal Skull, the other three films has a visible film grain that gives it a fitting filmic look. The Indy franchise has never looked so good.

Video Rating: 5/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - Amrish Puri

Audio

All of the Ultra HD Blu-rays in the Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection comes with a Dolby Atmos and a core 7.1 Dolby TrueHD Master Audio track. This review will reflect the collection’s Dolby Atmos track. Similar to the video presentation, the Dolby Atmos remix of the source audio is remarkable as well. Except for Temple of Doom‘s limited dynamic use of sound, each film has such a playful movement of sound. Moments like Marion in a basket moving across the soundstage in Raiders or Donovan’s shooting Henry Jones in the Last Crusade immediately come to mind.

At the same time, the mix uses the Atmos format to completely immerse the viewer into the film. Each film has such a precise and atmospheric use of effects, such as the infamous dinner scene in Temple of Doom. Yet the best use of the new Atmos mix is hearing John Williams’ recognizable scores with such fullness and clarity. There’s also nothing like having John Williams’ iconic Raiders March dynamically blasting from all speakers. Even with everything going on, the dialogue can still be easily be heard. Overall, this is an extraordinary audio mix for all four films.

Audio Rating: 5/5 atoms

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Sean Connery and Harrison Ford

Special Features

Each individual title’s Ultra HD Blu-ray disc only comes with the trailers on it. However, you can find the following special features on the bonus Blu-ray disc:

  • On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • From Jungle to Desert
    • From Adventure to Legend
  • Making the Films
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 Documentary)
    • Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • The Temple of Doom
    • The Last Crusade
    • The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Behind the Scenes
    • Stunts of Indiana Jones
    • Sound of Indiana Jones
    • Music of Indiana Jones
    • 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)
    • The Effects of Indy (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)
    • Adventures in Post Production (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull)

The bonus features are holdovers from the 2012 Blu-ray release of the Indiana Jones collection. Sadly, there are no retrospective features that celebrate 40 years of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Regardless, the bonus features provided still provide fans with a wealth of knowledge. First of all, “On Set” splices together bits and pieces from the 1981 making-of featurette and combines it with outtakes and deleted scenes from the film. Of course, this entire supplement is fascinating to watch since you get to see the master, Steven Spielberg, at work. It’s quite a master class.

The 1981 making-of featurette is a vintage feature that repeats some of the information from “On Set.” Yet it’s always interesting to see making-of featurettes from the past—especially from Lucasfilm. The narrator always tries to make the filmmaking process sound dramatic. The rest of the making-of-featurettes are a more modern look into the production of each film. They provide a wealth of knowledge that is a must-watch for all Indy fans. Similarly, the behind-the-scenes section goes in-depth into specific parts of the production process. 

Special Features Rating: 4.5/5 atoms


Overall, Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection is a must-have for fans. The films look and sound amazing with its 4K and Dolby Atmos presentations. Unfortunately, there aren’t any bonus features that celebrate 40 years of Raiders. However, the special features from the 2012 Blu-ray release are still good enough after all these years.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 atoms

The Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was reviewed using a retail/advance copy/unit provided by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Facebook Comments