Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures – Blu-ray Review

For the first time in the 1080p format, the four Indiana Jones movies come to Blu-ray in a beautiful set reminiscent of an antique book. This set will not disappoint fans. The picture is crystal clear. Famous bloopers seem to be cleaned up (movie enthusiasts might notice  you can no longer see the glass pane that separated Harrison Ford from real snakes), and the films sound incredible.

The first movie that kicked off the franchise, Raiders of the Lost Ark, was released in 1981, and introduced us to an unforgettable character of American cinema: Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford. Jones is a nerdy archeology professor who has a passion for adventure and getting into trouble on his adventures.

The first movie takes us war-torn Europe in 1940s style, where Jones fights Nazis and more Nazis in a search a famous biblical item, the Ark of the Covenant, a relic of the Hebrew people. Jones ends up in such exotic places as Nepal and Egypt on his quest and is aided by an old flame, his love interest, Marion Ravenwood (played by Karen Allen).

Supported by a stellar cast that includes Paul Freeman as Jones’ nemesis Dr. Rene Belloq, John Rhys-Davies as Sallah, the late great Denholm Elliott as Dr. Marcus Brody (who once got lost in his own museum), Raiders is a pleasure to revisit.

The second movie in the series, probably the least liked, takes a step backwards as it is more of prequel to Raiders. Set in 1935, The Temple of Doom starts out in Shanghai, and opens in a Shanghai nightclub where we are introduced to singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) and the magical properties of her voice (not). We also meet a twelve year old boy, Short Round (Jonathan Ke Quan).

Together, Jones, Short Round, and Willie embark on an adventure that takes them through India and into the Himalayan mountains, where their plane crashes. We are treated to a wide variety of Capshaw’s screaming and find out that her character is very spoiled.

The group ends up in a very poor village and in the vein of The Piped Piper story, they find out that the children in the village have disappeared. The group is led to believe that a cult has taken the children, and of course Jones and party must save them. Jones must also retrieve the sacred Shiva lingam stone for the village, which has magical properties.

Indiana Jones breaks up a child slavery ring, endures Willie’s endless screaming, and foils the cult’s plans to use the sacred stone for world dominance well as messes up their plans for human sacrifice. He also has to drink the blood of Kali which puts him into a mind-altering trace. All in a day’s work for Dr. Jones.

The second movie really has nothing to do with the first, and was a disappointment to fans. Still, it has grown on audiences, probably because the third installment makes up for casting Kate Capshaw.

The third Indiana Jones film returned to the formula that made the first one a success: Jones fighting Nazis for a biblical relic, this time the Holy Grail, that golden cup that Christ supposedly drank from at The Last Supper.  Even better, Sean Connery plays Jones’ father and calls him ‘Junior’ the entire movie.

Elliot returns as Marcus Brody, and Alison Doody plays Jones’ love interest this time around, Dr. Elsa Schneider, and she is a breath of fresh air from Capshaw. She is smart, maybe a little too smart, and quite capable, and she knows what she is after. She is not afraid to go after it, either, and she wants to find the Holy Grail.

Released theatrically in 1989, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was an instant success. With likeable characters, a look into Indiana Jones’ childhood (apparently the dog was named Indiana), and more than enough Nazis to kill, Last Crusade is by far my favorite Indiana Jones movie.

The last film took a while to come to the silver screen. Ideas where batted by and forth, scrapped, and audiences waited as Harrison Ford simply got older and the question became: could he do another one? Finally Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came into to being. Many didn’t like it; many thought the formula that worked should have been used again: a biblical relic, fighting Nazis.

But the producers chose to go with the legend of the crystal skull, which is a real legend, but it involves aliens. I thought the premise fascinating and watched documentaries on the real crystal skulls and read articles having to do with these phenomenons.
Instead of Nazis, Jones finds himself pitted against the Soviets during the Cold War. His nemesis this time around is Irina Spanlko, played by Cate Blanchett in a dominatrix haircut. She does a wonderfully clipped Russian accent.  In the vein of Last Crusade, a family member of Jones becomes apparent, this time his son, Mutt Williams, played by Shia LaBeouf. Marion (Karen Allen) is Mutt’s mom, and her reappearance to the franchise was quite welcome.

Humor comes in the fact that Jones didn’t know about his son until the disappearance of an aging colleague, Henry Oxley. Oxley might know where the skull is and Jones must get to it before the Russians, but the problem is Oxley has disappeared and Jones must go to South America to find him.

Along the way, he gets to know his son, Mutt. The two don’t get along very well, don’t see eye to eye. But the adventure unfolding pits them together and forces them to bond as only adventuring father and son can. Marion also ends up in the melee, and it becomes a family vacation, but not in the traditional sense, of course. In the Indiana Jones adventuring sense.

While many did not like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I did. I thought it very engaging, very well done from acting to editing to sets to directing to story. I liked the idea of Jones going after the crystal skull, because I am interested in the myth of the real crystal skulls. Perhaps the ending could have worked, given our propensity for aliens, but many found it a bit misplaced, and the alien angle just didn’t work. But all in all, I liked Crystal Skull and still hold strong to my opinion that Temple of Doom is the weakest of all the Indiana Jones movies.

The set is a must have for any movie fan. The Indiana Jones films are pop cultural icons of the American cinema, and for the first time on Blu-ray and in such a nice set, this is a must have. The picture looks great in the 1080p format. Highly recommended. 

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Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.