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Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Blu-ray Box Set - Part 3: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Indiana Jones Box Set

It is a rare and magical thing when an actor so perfectly encapsulates a fictional character that you can see no other in the role. It is one of those lightning in a bottle things; no one can predict it, plan it, or repeat it. Even those responsible have no clue how it happens, it just does. Perhaps that is the beauty of it. There are a miniscule number of actors who have been blessed with this rarest of cinematic gifts, and Harrison Ford is one of them. He earned his status in film history, no question about it, but he was also never first choice, never predicted to be such a perfect fit for the character, and never knew himself what it was he was about to accomplish. Harrison Ford is and always shall be Indiana Jones.

To celebrate the release of the Indiana Jones series on blu ray, we offer a four part retrospective article series honouring one of the most beloved franchises in film history.

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Indiana Jones Box SetIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Work began in earnest in 1985 to complete the adventures of Indiana Jones, but with two done and dusted already, it seemed the road to a script everyone could agree one was getting much longer (something that continued for the next entry in spades, and is rumoured to be plaguing the 5th attempt).

Lucas had wanted to focus on the supernatural far more in the third one, with a haunted castle idea, but Spielberg was unenthused. Lucas also tried including different permeations of the Monkey King with several writers to no avail. Spielberg also was not keen on the Grail idea. Eventually, after three years and many attempts, the two came to a compromise. Lucas would get his way with the McGuffin: it would be the Grail; and Spielberg would get his way as well, making this Indy far more character-centric by including Indy’s father.

The late Jeffrey Boam, who had written several projects for Amblin, ended up writing the winning script (with Tom Stoppard on polishing duties) where Indy is convinced by a seemingly philanthropic American businessman to search for the Grail when he finds out his own father, Henry Jones Sr. has disappeared on the same mission.

Indiana Jones Box SetIn keeping with his edict to come much closer in tone to Raiders, Spielberg brought back John Rys Davies as Sallah and Denholm Elliot in a much more comedically charged turn as Marcus Brody. Also gone were the more horror-centric elements of Temple of Doom, and the return of the Nazis as the main antagonists. There was a concerted effort to play a little cloak and dagger through this adventure, with the audience not really knowing which side some of the supporting players were on for the bulk of the film. But by far the most successful addition to this story, and the one that makes this the most successful in Indy’s character development, is the father/son relationship element that plays out through the whole movie. This was Spielberg’s contribution, which he argued hard for, opposing Lucas’s wish that the focus of the story be the Grail. In the final product, the Grail is really ancillary to the journey Indy takes to heal the rift between him and his old man. It, in some ways, presents Indiana Jones at his most relatable, and displays some truly touching moments with the adventurer (something that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull attempted but missed the mark on).

Allison Doody would be Indy’s love interest in this one, and she is the most surprising of the three leading ladies in many ways. She played Dr Elsa Schneider, a beautiful Austrian, so well you wouldn’t know she was Irish. She also displays a good sense of comedic timing in a love scene with Ford, but the function of her character is to suggest duplicity, and in that she was successful. She’s no Marion, and she’s certainly nothing like Willie, but she’s a worthy female lead.

Douglas Slocombe, who, good fortune willing, will turn 100 soon, was responsible for the photography on all three of the original Indiana Joneses. All three look distinctly different, and yet they share a DNA the fourth doesn’t. What astounds is that, as disparate as these three films can look from each other, they all have this wondrous classical feel to them. Last Crusade is much closer to Raiders in palette (locations are certainly more similar), but there are times, like Monument Valley and the bike chase that was shot up in Marin County and Petra, where the colour and scale of the shots is jaw dropping.

This entry really cleaned up at the box office, with nearly 600 million worldwide and left no doubt that the world was pleased with the third Indy adventure (although some critics weren’t). Yet this was, according to Spielberg, supposed to be the final entry. His final shot of Indy and company riding off into the sunset was not subtle and very deliberate—this was the end. Indy had shared with us a trilogy of unique and thrilling adventures, and as he disappeared into that bold orange horizon it would be left to us to imagine what was next in the life of the world’s most famous archaeologist…

At least for a couple of decades.

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Indiana Jones Box SetIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Finally presented by Paramount in glorious HD, it must be noted that the films all look great, with the original three enjoying a brand new gloss to their film stock.  This is definitely worth the upgrade from the DVD releases a few years back.  Each film is presented in 1080p high definition with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that honors the source sound with bombastic tones.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is presented in 1080p high definition with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio.  This release arguably looks the best out of the original trilogy. From the opening to the sunset closing, the picture absolutely resonates with color, texture, and crispness.  As with all the films, a natural layer of fine grain provides a very cinematic look throughout.  This is the best example of an older film looking downright classic on the HD format.  The clarity is so precise that the viewer can actually read diary entries.   Colors are brilliant and crisp.

Commentary:

They blew it, folks.  There is nary a commentary on any of these discs.  Definitive?  Hell, no.  Prepare to shell out more dough in the near future.

Special Features:

This franchise means a lot to audiences everywhere.  For over 31 years, the character of Indiana Jones has been a part of our popular culture.  There’s no way this set – a long time coming – could satisfy everyone.  Aside from some pretty awful packaging with each disc housed snugly inside a pocket within the book pages, leaving them vulnerable to scratching and fingerprints, the set is a nice beginning to what will probably be re-released next year in single packaging (with director’s commentary).  The binding is tight and the packaging is sturdier than most.  It’s cool, but I am always a bit wearisome of having to slide a disc into its sleeve.  While the four discs don’t contain any supplemental material, there is a bonus disc that houses everything you ever need know about the making of these films.

The seven hours of supplemental material almost makes you forget the lack of commentary.  Although, very little of it is new.  If you’ve owned the DVD set, you know most of the featurettes already.  There’s really no point in rehashing those.  The new supplemental material takes the cake.  There is a documentary of new bonus features for Raiders, mined and rescued from Spielberg’s archive.  There are a lot of new behind the scenes footage, on-set footage and alternate takes; all previously unseen. The two individual featurettes, titled “From Jungle to Desert” and “From Adventure to Legend” are interesting in their depth of information and their display of the on-set giddiness that was a part of making this character so charming.  Everyone is happy and excited and I miss those days.  The Bonus features are presented in standard and high definition (as indicated below) in English with English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

  • On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • From Jungle to Desert
  • From Adventure to Legend
  • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 documentary previously unavailable)
  • The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • The Making of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (HD)
  • Behind the Scenes ?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 (with optional pop-ups)
  • Travel with Indiana Jones: Locations (with optional pop-ups)
  • Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute
  • Indy’s Friends and Enemies
  • Iconic Props (HD)
  • The Effects of Indy (HD)
  • Adventures in Post Production (HD)

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Check out part one of the four part series - Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Box Set - Raiders of the Lost Ark

Check out part two of the four part series - Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures Box Set - The Temple of Doom

Check out part four of the four part series - Indiana Jones" The Complete Adventures Box Set - Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

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