Back in 1977 George Lucas (American Graffiti) created a science fiction/outer space movie called Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It instantly became a classic, spawned one of the greatest franchises that is still around to this day, and made icons of the cast. Between the fifth and sixth episodes of Star Wars, Lucas wrote another action film based on the 1940 serials entitled, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
To play the lead character, Dr. Henry Walton "Indiana" Jones, Lucas tapped one of the actors from the Star Wars Trilogy, Harrison Ford (Blade Runner 2049) and when the film was released forty years ago, it too became a hit and spawned three sequels (with a fourth one in the works). In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the original movie, Paramount Pictures has released all four films on 4K packaged as a box set.
In Raiders of The Lost Ark (1983), besides introducing us to the crusading archeology professor, "Indy" reluctantly searches for the lost ark because he is held captive by Nazis. Next, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1987), which technically is the first film if you put them in chronological order, tells the story of world dominance while utilizing magic and voodoo. Third, in the saga is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) that not only has Indy looking for the holy grail but also introduces audiences to Indy's father played by Sean Connery (The Rock). Finally, after an almost twenty-year hiatus, comes the latest installment, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). All four films have been given the upgraded video and audio treatment to varying degrees of success.
With upgraded technology, older films can be hit or miss. This combo pack is presented in Dolby Vision video and Dolby Atmos Audio, which makes the set worth purchasing.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The video is so sharp you can see every detail on Dr. Jones' tweed jacket as each thread individually stands out. As the oldest of the movies, one would think this transfer would have the most issues but that isn't the case and viewers will be blown away by the high-resolution quality. The audio offers the same pristine clarity as the video, particularly the scene in the marketplace.
Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom
As with Raiders, Temple has a few minor video issues. The mannequins used to portray the mummies in both films look terrible but that happens sometimes when an older movie is upgraded. Worse than the mummies, though, is the mine cart scene where it is obvious that green screen technology was used. However, the fire pit, though animated came across as fairly realistic. Again, the audio is the real star, with the crispness coming through in the opening club scene and later in the movie, the sound of ricocheting bullets makes the viewer feel as if they are in the center of the action.
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
The third installment in the series also fairs well with the Dolby Vision Technology. The opening scene is so sharp and clean, you feel as though you are actually there. Of course, the leap in film technology from 1981 to 1989 is apparent and sometimes helps, while other times hurting the visual effects. The audio just gets better and better as the movies progress and there is more depth and layering by the time this movie comes around. It's also a more lighthearted movie than the second one (which is why the PG-13 rating came into effect). Connery is also well cast as Indy's father and his and Harrison's banter is amusing.
Indiana Jones and The Kindom of The Crystal Skull
While arguably the worst of the four movies plot-wise, Crystal Skull offers some incredible images, especially the sparkling skull itself. By 2008, the advances in video and audio are both a blessing and a curse. Images are sharp but the special effect technology, when married with a 4K upgrade, generally comes across as looking fake. However, the audio is the best out of the four films, regardless of the less-than-stellar plot.
Each film has trailers included on their individual discs and the set comes with a fifth disc of only extras. Unfortunately, all of the extras are previously released so there is nothing new to see. However, what is included is enjoyable, interesting, and worth watching.
The extras include: On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark: From Jungle to Desert, On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark: From Adventure to Legend, The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (newer version), The Making of the Temple of Doom, The Making of the Last Crusade, The Making of the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, 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, Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations, Indy's Women: The American Film Institute Tribute, Indy's Friends and Enemies, Iconic Props, The Effects of Indy, Adventures in Post Production and Credits.
The set comes complete with the five 4K discs, a sturdy outer box with a fold-out inner sleeve to hold the discs, and a glossy map and digital codes for each film.
Despite the few visual flaws, this is the best I have ever seen these movies look.
A worthwhile purchase for the film. Indiana Jones lover in your life.
Overall Grade: A-