Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull Blu-Ray Review

Review Covers Blu-Ray & DVD Version

Cover Art and Menus: 10/10
Classic, perfect cover for this installment of the adventures of Dr. Henry Jones Jr. I love it. There is nothing I would add or take away. What more can i say?

The menu is designed for the movie, which is something I would like to see more and more considering the price of Blu-Ray. It’s the least they can do to make it a tad more fun to browse the extras. This disc has a themed menu system and even the time elapsed bar that pops up when you pause is made to fit the package….nice job.

Features: 10/10

  • Pre-Production Featurette –I enjoy watching the planning and creation of movies, even if it’s kind of over produced and polished for my taste. We get talking heads of the highest ranking, Lucas, Spielberg, Ford, and the how’s why’s and who’s of this 4th Indiana Jones movie getting to the big screen.
  • Indiana Jones Time lines – This is a very cool feature indeed. It shows the time line for the movies, so you can track Indiana’s adventures from the beginning. It also has a movie interpretation of world history so you can follow the pseudo archeological side of the Jone’s legend.
  • Trailers – I’m not a fan of calling trailers “extras”, however, it makes for a full packaged deal so keep tagging them on folks.
  • The Return Of A Legend Featurette – Does Indiana Jones need a 4th movie? Somebody thought so, and this is mix of sentimental looking back at Arc, Temple, and Crusade, while peeking in on the production of Crystal Skull. It’s more talking heads and glossy interviews, but hey, who can argue with the masters? I prefer the fly on the wall, hand held cam chasing the director and cast around without the extra editing on these kinds of extras. I’ll be sure to call up Lucas in the morning and have a chat with him about it.
  • Production Diary The Making Of Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull – These are always fun to watch. They aren’t long, but to get a little tid bit of daily life on the set is great for the true fans of both the film itself and how it was made.
  • Warrior Makeup Featurette – Those warriors we see for about 30 seconds, well, they have a buttload of time in the make-up chair, and this is their moment to shine in their very own extra. It does go to show just how much detail goes into these mega-production movies. Any other smaller flick would slap some paint on the background extras and leave it at that…but not Lucaberg. It’s top quality all the way for this two headed movie making giant.
  • The Crystal Skulls Featurette – I had never heard of any crystal skull legends, so this was slightly educational for me. It’s not full blown National Geographic or Discovery Channel, oh no, but it did fill me in enough to understand why they chose the crystal skull as their mcguffin. (Spielberg and I like to use that word a lot.)
  • Iconic Props Featurette – Where are the props from all the the Indiana Jone’s movies? Some have been sold off, but most are in a warehouse. How utilitarian.
  • Adventures In Post Production Featurette – The music, the special effects, the CGI, the sound mixing, it’s all added after principal photography is done. Oh, and did you know Stephen likes to edit, cut, splice, REAL film instead of the digital method?
  • The Effects Of Indy Featurette – How do we end up seeing Queen Elizabeth and the kid from Transformers sword fight across two moving vehicles? If it’s a mystery you would rather not solve, stay away from this extra. If it’s a question that burns in your soul, go for it. You might be surprised what’s real and what’s digital, I know I was.
  • Closing Team Indy Featurette – A lot of the same people have worked on all four Jones movies, and this is a little audio visual tribute to them. (i.e. fancy credits)
  • Pre Visualization Featurette – Bringing the script from paper to something watchable with digital story boards and animated bits and pieces is the way of these big movie makers these days.
  • Photographs & Galleries – I think this is self explanatory.

The Movie: 7/10

Swashbuckling adventure for this generation. That’s how I romanticize the Indiana Jones series. It’s absolute fun and antics that make watching movies exciting in a kid-like way. I love that. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the final chapter in the cinematic storybook of Dr. Henry Jones Jr. I have seen it twice and as much as it improves with a second watch, I’m still not sure it offers the kind of fairy tale ending I was hoping for, not that I”m going to spoil the ending. I’m saying the story of Crystal Skull, and a few specific elements, were not as satisfying as I was hoping they would be.

What I didn’t like about the movie is outweighed by what I really did enjoy, so that’s a good thing. I just wasn’t into the whole young punk kid from the 50’s part, or the fact that they killed off Henry Jones Sr. between flicks and only gave him a quickly passing mention and photo appearance. Even a flashback to a death scene or something would have felt more natural, but to just ditch him like that…come on Connery, you could have made a bed ridden cameo for a few bucks!!

What else didn’t style my hair for me? Some of the action looked “dodgy” as my husband, the Brit, would say. Not that he would say it about this movie, he’s too blinded by wide-eyed awe 🙂 The swinging monkeys, the giant ant swarm, the sword fight on the vehicles, these are the true offenders of modern day special effects that are not executed seamlessly. Come on Lucas, you created and own one of THE most innovative companies for this kind of thing in the world, how could you let it happen? The monkeys and the kid flying from vine to vine looked patched together by an intern. The sword fight on the vehicles looked like it could have been in a movie about 7 years ago. The ants just looked a bit too digital, if you know what I mean? These might sound like minor offenses, but when you are buying into a fantasy world of treasure hunting, magical arcs, mystical stones, holy grails, and mind controlling skulls made out of crystal and reality kicks in the door by reminding you it’s all done in a studio and on a computer, the illusion is cracked and the fun factor drops a few notches.

What DID I like, LOVE. Marion, old Indy, Kate Blanchet, the sets, the style, the clothes, the details, and I even appreciate the relentless action. I prefer the earlier dialogue of Raiders and Last Crusade. There was more variety from quiet scenes followed by high action. This time around they cranked up the action so that there is barely a moment throughout the whole movie for building up the tension and relationships between characters. I understand that we know these people pretty well already, but it’s still kind of manic to make every single scene in motion. I like to have the downtimes so the uptimes are that much more exciting. Not that the action wasn’t fine and dandy, it was, I just missed some more intimate moments that got lost in the shuffle.

I will say that the first time I watched it I was slightly disappointed. I can’t put my finger on why, maybe I was hoping for a revisit to my favorite, Raiders of the Lost Ark with Marion and the groovy style that one brought to the series. When we were getting ready to watch it again I let go of those expectations and to be honest, it was so much better. I enjoyed it, even with the occasional crappy CGI and missing quieter moments. The story felt better the second time, the motorcycle riding kid fit in better, and when it was over I was finally satisfied with how things wrapped up. I always say people shouldn’t have expectations of movies, and that’s what I did. It didn’t serve me well almost ruining the end of Indiana Jone’s adventures for me. I’m glad I got a chance to soak it up again. It was worth it.

Audio & Video: 9/10
After last weeks disappointing Blu-Ray transfer of Forgetting Sarah Marshall we have the exact opposite here with Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Paramount have done an outstanding job with one of the best transfers I have seen to date. This was one of the few movies I caught theatrically this year and our crappy fleapit theater did their usual job of destroying the look of the film with a bad projector, hairs on the reel, scratches on the film, and who knows what else.

The Blu-Ray version is a treat, and as I said in the podcast, there is something I can’t put my finger on with this movie. It’s either a filter or a special film stock that Spielberg has used that gives the movie a cool older look while preserving the ultra high detail of a movie from 2008. This disc has some of the best black levels I have seen. The scene in the cave with Mutt & Indy is pitch black in parts but you can still make out the detail on Mutt’s black leather jacket.

Audio is THX certified and is made to be loud. The movie is quite kinetic, and the sound mix backs this up. The sound is mixed a little low overall though, and I had to pump my amplifier up a few notches from its usual listening position. It’s not a problem but something I noticed anyway.

Overall Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull is a great “sit back and relax and just go with it movie”. The DVD & Blu-Ray versions are amongst the year’s best when it comes to video and audio quality so it’s a no-brainer must buy if you are a fan of the series.

Value: 7/10
Sometimes value isn’t the issue. I know, it’s strange to hear that from me, Mrs. Doubtprice. It’s just that when I come across a movie that I’m sure will be slapped back in the DVD player over and over in the future, that does something to the cost to enjoyment ratio. Some movies are excellent, but not for multiple views. Some DVD’s are packed with amazing extras, but I don’t watch extras over and over so the value sits on the one time view. Indiana Jones, well, this Blu-Ray has all the goods for a great first time experience with tons of extras and a classically fun flick, along with the rewatchablity of the movie for years to come. Yes, we will again watch the whole series for fun someday and I want them on the shelf ready for action.

For around $25 it isn’t my ideal price, but this is the reason I save up the cash by not buying other DVD’s. It’s a delicate movie lover’s balance.

Overall Score 9/10