Indiana Jones The Adventure Collection

Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
I’ve been around long enough to have seen the Indiana Jones artwork from the beginning. Yes, I’m that old. I like the painterly look that Lucas seems so fond of and it has that adventure novel flavor. This 3 disc box set is a nice little package with the hefty cardboard cover slip and the slim line DVD cases.

The menus are clips from the movie with a cell shading filter over the top. Each menu is movie specific and have been redone since the earlier release of the DVD’s a few years ago.

Features: 9/10

  • New Introductions To Each Film By Steven Spielberg & George Lucas – These are recent interviews with the dynamic duo. They talk about how and why each movie was made. I really like that Spielberg admits he didn’t want to make Temple of Doom. It’s not a love fest, well, not too much anyway. I don’t recommend watching them before the movies if you have not seen them or you have forgotten what happens. They show clips from every part of each movie, even the endings.
  • The Indy Trilogy A Crystal Clear Appreciation – Talking heads discussion all 4 (even though that’s not really a trilogy).
  • The Mystery Of The Melting Face Featurette – How did they do that? A combination of stop time animation and old school movie trickery.
  • Snakes Alive Featurette – Another “how did they do that?” feature. Some real, some rubber, the snakes are a part of the Indiana legacy so they deserve an extra all their own.
  • Storyboards – Each disc offers us a glimpse at the process of how they got all those big ideas from paper to the big screen. Jones stories are kind of comic booky anyway, so it’s fun to see it all drawn out frame by frame.
  • Creepy Crawlies Featurette – The bugs of Temple of Doom…kind of like the snakes of Lost Ark.
  • Discover Adventure On Location With Indy – Behind the scenes with the cast and crew. More glances at the franchise, which at this point includes some rehashed information. It’s still fun to see it all though.
  • Indy’s Women Reminisce Featurette – A gathering of the 3 Indiana Jones women in an “actor’s studio” type setting with an audience and some scholarly film person there to ask questions.
  • Indy’s Friends & Enemies Featurette – A look at the people who surround Indy, his sidekicks, good guys, bad guys, and anyone else who got close to the action. It just reminded me of how forgettable the bad guys have been for me 🙁
  • Photo Galleries – Photos photos photos..:)
  • Lego Indiana Jones The Original Adventures PC Game Demo – This isn’t the demo, just instructions to go the website to download it.

Movie: 9/10
I admit it, I had only ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark once, back in the day. The thing is, it still had such an impact that I felt I knew every bit of it. I was wrong. I sat watching this time as if I had never seen it before. I remembered the iconic parts, the ball rolling, the snakes, Marion drinking the guy under the table, but overall it was almost like the first time. I loved it.

Marion is my favorite woman in the Indiana series. In fact, I think she’s one of my favorite movie women of all time. She adds more to the story than any of the other woman. I would like to see a series of movies following her through some adventures 🙂

Partly because of Marion, the story of The Ark is my favorite. I’m not a fan of the object itself. In fact, most of the things Indy chases down in the movies I am completely indifferent to. It’s the rest of the adventure that keeps me interested. I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be. Spielberg calls the Holy Grail of The Last Crusade the MacGuffin. That’s a plot device that gets our attention, but it’s really not what the story is about. George Lucas is fond of this film making tool. The Ark, the Sankara Stone, and the Holy Grail are the objects we are on the hunt for, but along the way Indiana Jones is really forming relationships, resolving conflicts, and having a hell of a time.

I like all the running, jumping, climbing, hiding, disguises, and big action of each movie. It’s all a bit mindless, and that’s what makes it fun. The thing I realized watching them all again, however is that as much as they might try to make Jones more deep or give him a bit of an edge he’s very one dimensional. It’s fine and dandy. I mean, who needs a well rounded action hero? Right?

The problem I found while I watched all three in a row was that Lucas seemed to TRY to give Indy some more depth. He had a flicker of greed in Temple of Doom when he had all the stones in his possession and we are lead to believe he might just turn them over to some authority for fame and glory. In The Last Crusade he is tempted again, this time by the grail and we get yet another split second of a darker motivation behind his artifact hunting. These moments are so brief and you can breeze over them easily with all the action that’s happening simultaneously. It just bothers me a bit that they can’t seem to make up their minds. Do they want to make a hero who has more than one facet to this personality? Or do they want Indiana to be the upstanding man we mostly see, the professor who loves history and is unwavering in his commitment to saving artifacts and treasures without fame and glory, but for the good of mankind? I say George can’t write a fully rounded character that well, so stick to what you know, one dimensional with lots of personality. that’s all we need.

The Temple of Doom gets a bad wrap. I know why, just like everybody else. No need to reopen old wounds.  I do think that if it had been made into a separate movie, without Indiana Jones, and with an even darker tone, it would have worked. I love Short Round. He’s the one redeeming quality in the movie. It’s just that it has a lot of other those things that don’t work. I didn’t like the chick, the creepy kid Mahārāja with the shitty looped voice, the lame bad guys, and the long middle section in the mines that makes me want to hit fast forward. I NEVER DO THAT IN ANY MOVIE…EVER, but it was tempting. It boils down to just another adventure we get through with Jones, and I like to look at it as one more thing from his life we know he’s been through, all the action, the lessons he’s learned, the battering he takes.

The Last Crusade is more action, more cheek, more Sean Connery. It’s not amazing and is only marginally more sophisticated than Raiders. I’m talking about the special effects and stunts and whatnot. The story is ok. I liked Alison Doody. She does a great job of being the only character in all the movies with more depth and inner conflict. I think it’s fun to learn about the Jones family, the father’s obsession with the Holy Grail, how Indy got his scar, hat, whip, nickname, etc. Again, it’s an adventure that by the end we have seen the man go through more drama and trauma and comes out the other end with yet another grin on his face.

All three are true adventures. As much as we like to analyze and love up on the whole franchise, that’s all it really is, action adventure. We are taken to exotic locations and see amazing things along the way. That’s what I want from them, and that’s what I get.

Video & Audio: 8/10
Until Paramount release the obligatory Blu-Ray box set of the Indy Trilogy we have to make do with this DVD set. The transfers on the Adventure Collection are the exact same ones used in the Box set that was released in 2003. The transfers are actually great but the movie’s especially the third one suffer from some weird out of focus shots, it looks like the DP didn’t focus the camera quick enough on the day and they just used the footage they had instead of doing reshoots. That being said these are amazing transfers of some quite old source material and the THX certified soundtrack really rocks the house.

Value: 8/10
$40.00 is too much for 3 redone DVD’s. Sorry folks, but even the little bits of extras they toss on this new set are not enough to make me want to spend that much money AGAIN. This is a 20 year old franchise. The extras are not amazing or sooooo fantastic that it bumps the set up to a new level of “must have”. Each DVD should be about 7 bucks and the set shouldn’t top $20, at the most. If they had never put them on DVD before, I might have a different opinion. I don’t like the double dipping, it’s annoying. Yes, even if it is for a classic like Indiana Jones.

Overall Score 8/10