NOTICE: “Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection” in 4K Ultra HD is worth improving
On June 12, 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in theaters. It was a collaboration of two giants in film history, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and introduced the world to Indiana Jones, perfectly portrayed by Harrison Ford. The character of Indiana Jones has become a global movie icon and has become synonymous with the words action and adventure. To celebrate the 40e Raiders of the Lost Ark anniversary, Paramount Home Entertainment has released the Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection for the first time in 4K Ultra HD. Each movie in the collection is presented in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.
All four films were remastered in 4K from the original negatives and approved by director Steven Spielberg. 4K transfers are a very impressive upgrade from the Blu-ray discs released in 2013. Raiders’ Blu-ray release suffered from the fact that the film was too saturated, causing the characters to appear orange at times. This has been corrected and the skin tones are much more natural. The brightness has also been dimmed, which gives it a more pleasant presentation. The bump in 4K really brought out the details in all of the movies. There are times when the footage is still a bit blurry, but that has to do with the way the movie was shot. Overall, you can clearly see an increase in detail in the seams of clothing, the lines of the faces of the characters, and even the bricks of the buildings being constructed.
The Dolby Vision presentation really adds to the look of the film. The colors are truly vibrant and the brightness and contrast levels adjust from scene to scene. The color timing has been changed for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull with great results. I know for the most part this is the least favorite movie of the four, but the new look really helps the movie look more natural. Of the four films, Crystal Skull appears to outperform the rest due to the fact that it has undergone quite a severe change and color timing improvement and was filmed and edited with the latest technology in 2008.
What surprised me was that the special effects, and even some CGIs, were cleaned up to make the movies more presentable. I had no idea that, like the special editions of Star Wars, there had been tinkering with these films after each release. The difference is that there was never any additional footage or dialogue added that changed the story. They just tried to correct the mistakes that were made by being the victims of film technology at the time.
The changes are sometimes very minor, but make the presentation much better. Most of the changes were related to the previous films and the presence of dull lines resulting from the attempt to incorporate special effects with the actors and sets. Sometimes the dull lines were a bit too obvious and annoyed viewers. After watching all of the movies in this set, I would say that for the most part they are eliminated. You can still spot some special effects and matte paints every now and then, but it looks a lot better. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull relied more on CGI for its special effects, and at the time, they were shocking and obvious. The good news is that it looks like they’ve been working on the CGI as well. There are some scenes that are still evident in CGI, but I was less distracted this time around.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a Dolby Atmos receiver to give my thoughts on its performance. Using my 5.1 receiver the sound is very good. John Williams’ incredible score for the film literally uses every speaker at times. The sound effects are very clear and crisp. My only gripe is that it seems like the music dominates the dialogue at times and it’s hard to understand what the character is saying.
As for the movies themselves, it was fun to watch all of those movies again, and probably nicer to be since I watched them back to back and in two nights. I think for most people Raiders is the best movie by far. It definitely stands out in that it was the movie to introduce Indiana Jones and her adventures to the world. It’s also the best written, with the best acting and the best musical score. People knew Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but after this movie he will always be remembered as Indiana Jones. For the time, Marion’s (Karen Allen) character may have been a damsel in distress, but she more than held her ground and was as hard as nails. The special effects back then were revolutionary and still work well today. Who could forget the opening scene where Indy retrieves the idol or the scene where Indy rides a horse to retrieve the Ark from the Nazis? It’s just a classic from start to finish that defined the genre and I doubt it’s ever beaten.
The Temple Of Doom was interesting in that it wasn’t a sequel, but a prequel. What I liked about this movie was that there were no Nazis this time around and the setting and the opening scene were completely different. What I also like about this movie is that it was, for the most part, non-stop action. Raiders had a better story, but if you were someone who preferred a fast-paced action-oriented movie, this was your movie. And where Indy was sort of part of the set in the first movie, he was more in the foreground here. Yes, there was Short Round and Willie who were on the adventure with him, but they were more of the supporting characters. This movie also has the series’ best villain, Mola Ram, and is by far the darkest movie in the series. I also like Short Round (Key Huy Quan) in this area. This is one of the few times in a movie that a sidekick helps improve the adventure, but he never gets boring or takes away from Indy. A lot of people criticize the character of Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), but I think she was fine. Unlike Marion, she was more of the Marilyn Monroe type, that’s how the character was written. And Raiders may have introduced Indy to the world, but this movie made him iconic. If you haven’t seen it in a while, check it again. It really is a roller coaster ride of a movie.
I may hate it, but I always thought The Last Crusade was overrated. I was never a fan of the opening scene, seeing young Indy on the circus train escape his pursuers. Where Raiders was a drama / action movie and Doom was a horror / action movie, it was a comedy / action movie. And for me, it suffered the same fate as Return Of The Jedi. It was just the same. The Nazis are back in search of a religious object that will give them the power to rule the world. And I’ve always loved Sean Connery as James Bond and his performance in The Untouchables, but I feel like he looks more like Sean Connery in that role than Indy’s father. I love that dad and son are opposites and that Ford and Connery work well together, but I feel like it could have been better. The worst part of the movie for me is the score by John Williams. It’s so different from the previous movies and the Indy theme is hardly used. The main villain is also very uninteresting. I still love the action scenes and the interactions between Ford and Connery, but this is my third favorite Indy movie.
The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should never have happened. Partly because the Last Crusade ended with everyone leaving together towards sunset during the end credits. It was the perfect ending to the series. Crystal Skull was just a cash grab using Indy’s name and trying to revive the series with his replacement for Indy, his son. I watched this the other night, and while there are a ton of issues, Harrison Ford’s performance as Indiana Jones is excellent. I think he’s better in this movie than in The Last Crusade. Indy might have been older, but he was still Indy. I love the Area 51 opening scene. I know most people hate the Indy in the fridge scene, but it’s not the worst. The worst is Mutt (Shia LeBeouf) swinging in the jungle with monkeys. This movie is about two hours long and I would say the first hour works for me. He begins to crumble by bringing in too many characters. The movie would have been better without Mutt, Marion (Karen Allen) and Ox (John Hurt). It would have worked better if it had only been for Indy and Mac (Ray Winstone). Even though Mac was a traitor, Indy and Mac were the only ones with chemistry. The story is also very convoluted. I’m still not 100% sure what happens at the end, rather, why the end even happened. If any movie in the series needed a director cut, this is it. I honestly think if Spielberg had a chance he could make a much better movie out of it. Get rid of the fridge that flies miles in the air without Indy dying, get rid of Shia and the monkeys and the fencing Shia on the jeep and most of John Hurt’s scenes. It would still be the worst movie in the series, but much better.
If you’re an Indiana Jones fan, or if you’ve never seen any of the movies before, this is the set you’ve been waiting for. It’s the best these movies have ever watched or sounded. Highly recommended.
For a more detailed comparison of the different formats, please visit Caps-a-holic.com.
Sources: Caps-a-holic.com; Blu-ray.com