DVD Review: Indiana Jones special editions

Paramount Home Entertainment
SRP: $59.98 (Collection), $26.98 (Raiders, Temple of Doom) and $29.99 (Last Crusade)

Many folk my age remember Star Wars or E.T. as the magical film of their childhood. Not me, Raiders of the Lost Ark (F**K you George, it will always simply be Raiders of the Lost Ark to me.) was my childhood favorite. The whip, the snakes, the exploding and melting heads. Seriously, Raiders is a true classic and one of the greatest films of all time.

This is an excellent example of a film where everything fell into place. RotLA is what every action/adventure film should aspire to. I can’t think of another of its kind, from the last 50 years, that is superior.

Prior to this release, RotLA was only available as part of an Indiana Jones box set. Now each of the films gets a nice treatment so you can pick and choose which you want to get. Some fickle fans will avoid Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, but I actually LOVE ToD, it stands out from the other two films because of the darkness and creepiness. Bugs, beating hearts pulled from chests; blooding drinking zombies…this is the stuff of FUN!

The one real weakness of ToD was Kate Caphaw’s Willie. No offence to Miz. Capshaw, but her character simply could not hold a candle to that of Marion.

Most see ToD as the weakest of the bunch, and the box office numbers back that up. I think using foreign mythos disturbed plenty of people. They can accept the power of God (Christian) but seeing hearts being pulled from a beating chest was more than many could stomach.

So it was no surprise when Christianity and the Nazis came back for The Last Crusade. Clearly the dark tone of the second movie bothered many, but I thought Geroge, Steven and co went overboard with the humor in tLC, It was, at times, too cute and silly.

But do I really need to review the films? Anyone that is thinking about buying any of these releases knows the films. The only real questions are about the extras, so lets take a look.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Honestly, I would LOVE to have a commentary track here. Put Steven and George together and let them expound on the films and the process of making them. Sadly, nothing like that is included here. That is a real shame as the IJ films were always a chance for two friends (three really, with Harrison) to get together and spend time doing what they love: telling stories via the big screen. Such a commentary track could be a thing of magic.
But despite this, there is still fun to be had here.

Each of the films starts off with an introduction by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. These range from five to eight minutes in length, with the two giving some perspective on the film and their thoughts on it.
Also included on each are trailers for the “Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures” and IJ & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, as well as photo galleries.

Raiders also has Indiana Jones: An Appreciation: This runs a little under twelve minutes with cast of the new film talking about the trilogy. This is enjoyable as only a couple of the cast members have been in the previous films. Next is The Melting Face: We get a look behind the creation of this awesome scene from the end of the Raiders. Today, this kind of thing would be CGI, but here we see old school special effects delivering the good in spectacular fashion. Finally is a storyboard sequence for the Well of the Souls scene.

Temple of Doom has The Creepy Crawlies: Just under eight minutes, this looks at the crittiers that populate the films (snakes, bugs, rats). Travel With Indy: Locations: this looks at the various locales they have used in the trilogy. It also has a storyboard sequence for the Mine Cart Chase scene.

The Last Crusade offers us Indy’s Women: The Amrican Film Institute Tribute: I enjoyed this as we get a short (9:22) roundtable discussion with Karen Allen (Marion), Kate Capshaw (Willie) and Alison Doody(Elsa). Indy’s Friends and Ememies: A look at some of the more memorable supporting cast of the films. TLC’s storyboard sequence is for the opening scene of the film.

While I am glad to see these films being released separately, it is clear that these editions were put together to promote Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. There is nothing wrong with these, but calling them special editions is a bit much. Each of these films should have been given a killer treatment, with cast members brought in for interviews and COMMENTARY TRACKS (At least for Raiders).

All three films are great fun and, if you don’t already have the 2003 box set, should be in the library of anyone that loves a good adventure/action flick. While I think the previous box was better, it is nice to have the option of buying the individual titles.

Order Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Order Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Order Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Order Indiana Jones: the adventure collection.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.