THE INDIANA JONES COLLECTION – 9.0

10-21-03

By Nick Nunziata


Contributing sources:

BUY
IT AT AMAZON:
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HERE


STUDIO:
Paramount


MSRP:
$69.98
RATED:
PG & PG-13


RUNNING
TIME:
359 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES:

o A new, feature-length
documentary of the making of the trilogy

o From the Lucasfilm Archives:

o The Stunts of Indiana Jones

o The Sound of Indiana Jones

o The Music of Indiana Jones

o The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones

o Original trailers

o Weblink to exclusive content

That
hat. That whip. That transition with the mountain.
The spiders. The rock. Forrestal emaciated dead
face. The flirting student. Nepalese drinking
games. Toht’s hand. The monkey with a terminal
case of Nazi. Bad dates, and so on and so on…

Re-watching
the Indiana Jones in one sitting isn’t only
a trip down memory lane. It’s therapy. It’s
like falling asleep while someone you love massages
your feet or a hot cup of coffee waiting for
you when you wake up and the screen door’s open
with a beam of sunshine and breeze blowing in.
It’s like going home. After hundreds and hundreds
of films that fulfill little areas of your movie
brain it’s really nice to see those films that
in lot of ways shaped the parameters of what
makes up a good movie. A classic. It’s why we
expect more from the films thrust at every summer
and why to this day we blindly follow Harrison
Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas wherever
they choose to take us.

Indiana
Jones. DVD. Finally.



“Say, Mac… do you happen
to have a copy of The Class of Nuke ‘Em
High
still in the shrink wrap?”

The
Flick

Raiders
of the Lost Ark



9 out of 10 wizened Asians recommend
Karen Allen over the leading brand. Then again,
9 out of 10 wizened Asians have never seen Ami
Dolenz in action.

The
first thing I noticed about watching Raiders
of the Lost Ark
these days is how it
has evolved into being an “older movie”. It
has that wonderful richness and lived in look
that makes films like Lawrence of Arabia
and Gone with the Wind something
bigger and deeper with age. In a word, classic.
Raiders is nothing less than that now
over twenty years along in its life, a timeless
unbelievably rich classic. Seeing the scenes
now after a probable eight or ten year hiatus
and in widescreen for the first time since the
theater (I never tracked down the laserdiscs),
it’s like going home after a stint in prison.
OK, not prison. It’s like seeing the film that
The Mummy cribbed from after seeing
The Mummy and The Mummy
Returns
a few times.

Everything
about this movie showcases George Lucas, Steven
Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Lawrence Kasdan, John
Williams, and the rest of their group of artisans,
craftsmen, and technicians working at the top
of their game. Just about every choice made
in this film is perfect, from the casting to
the balance of old fashioned inspiration and
(then) modern age filmmaking. There’s a certain
swagger to the film, an air of confidence that
most of their recent works have lacked whether
the films were successful or not. Taking a nod
from the great serial adventures of their youth,
the filmmakers birthed their Allan Quartermain.
Their James Bond. Their amalgam of everything
that inspired them, spiced with a little of
their own Han Solo for flavor.



The idea to swap the head with
a bag of sand was a brilliant one, far better
than his original plan to leave a copy of Night
of the Comet
on VHS in place of the
idol.

Beginning
with the transition from Paramount logo to a
similar peak in “real life”, the film jumps
to life with a legendary scene involving the
discovery and loss of the fertility idol by
Indiana Jones and his less-than-trustworthy
helpers. A lot of what constitutes an ‘Indy
Film’ is here, beginning with the slow reveal
of our hero. Shown in shadow for the first few
moments, when we finally see the legendary character
appear from the cover of darkness it’s right
after he delivers a whip crank to the seedy
Barracana. Immediately, it’s obvious that not
only is this not just a rehash of Ford’s Han
Solo performance but the beginning of something
new. A little James Bond, a little Humphrey
Bogart, and a little Han Solo all channeled
through the Lucasfilm machine. The results are
astonishing.



Dr.
Jones found Annette’s “Love” and “You”
tattoos irresistible, until he took her home
and found where she had the “Swamp”
and “Thing” ones.

The
one thing that this first film does differently
than the ones that followed was immediately
introduce the film’s principal villain in the
now customary introductory action sequence.
Belloq (Paul Freeman) and his Hovitos muscle
greet Indiana Jones at the end of his capture
of the fertility idol, and immediately there’s
a sense of antagonism for the archaeologist/adventurer.
Better yet, it’s a peer and equal in the trade.
Someone cunning and learned. Not some brute
who looks cool or has a neat weapon.

The
film moves both at a breakneck pace and at a
measured one at the same time. It’s not a short
film, but it never feels fat. The James Bond
films have always been lengthy, but they always
seem about twenty-five minutes too long. In
1981, this was a breezy epic, that rare oxy
moron that fits like a glove. Bouncing from
the jungle to the University where Indy teaches
to his home to the icy peaks of Nepal to Cairo
to boats, U-boats, a secret island, and back
to the United States, it’s a sprawling piece
of perfectly crafted entertainment.



Terrorism. Explained.

Thousands
of impressionable kids wanted to be archaeologists
because of this film and it’s mostly due to
the perfect marriage of actor and character.
Where one shows a little weakness, the other
picks up the slack. For example, watch Harrison
Ford on the special features. He’s a personality
vacuum, showing none of Indy’s trademark charisma.
Adversely, a glance at Tim Matheson and Tom
Selleck’s attempts at the character make it
plainly obvious just how much of the magic comes
from Ford. A modern parallel would be the Johnny
Depp/Jack Sparrow situation. It’s kismet, and
the character that will forever define Harrison
Ford throughout the ages.



A look at Harrison Ford’s early
skin flick, Gorillas in the FIST.

John
Williams’ music is not only one of the most
recognizable scores of all time, but a perfect
mixture of respectful throwback and bombastic
big-time movie orchestration. The special effects
were trendsetting at the time, and the filmmaking
style was as fluid and confident as anything
Steven Spielberg has ever done and since the
film is rated PG there’s a lot more violence
and mayhem than you’d expect in a film like
this. In essence, this is a perfect movie. The
acting is perfect, the production value is impeccable
despite the film’s surprisingly low budget,
and the story is as exciting and fun as anything
ever released on the silver screen.



“Screw it! I’ve got NO time
for all this face shit!”

This
is one of the best films ever made and one that
will always enjoy a slot in my top five until
I get sent packing to the Reaper’s playground.

10
out of 10

Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom

How
do you follow perfection? Usually with utter
failure, and a lot of people regard this prequel
as not only the worst film in the Indiana Jones
trilogy but a rather crappy film on top of that.
In fact, the films’ creators even take potshots
at the film a couple of decades on. Bullshit.
I love this film, and despite its flaws it still
delivers that vital Indiana Jones feel and succeeds
at being both a great adventure film but a wonderful
Indy film.

The
Thuggee cult is not the easiest nemesis for
Indiana Jones to square off against. The first
film had the benefit of having the most cinematically
delicious enemies there has ever been; Nazis.
Additionally, how can you compete with the Belloq,
Toht, and Dietrich trio of terror? Instead,
the second film trades on darker subject matter
and the relationship between Indy, ditzy showgirl
Willie Scott (Spielberg’s current wife, Kate
Capshaw), and his sidekick Short Round. It’s
that relationship that causes a lot of viewer
discomfort, what with Willie’s unending scream
sessions and gross-outs and Short Round’s constant
banter. Personally, it’s all part of the deal
and something that allows this film to have
its own identity.



“Fret not, Mr. Jones. For
the right cost I will teach you the Yoga
Flame
.”

Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom
could have
easily been a carbon copy of the first film.
It could have had a gritty, aggressive female
foil for Indy. It could have presented a legion
of Nazi adversaries and another archaeological
nemesis for the hero and some other power religious
artifact. Instead, it begins with a lavish musical
sequence that starts the second film off just
fine. Ford gets to be debonair and further his
mystique as a “modern day Humphrey Bogart’ in
a white tuxedo and Capshaw oozes charm and sexiness
in her introductory ‘Anything Goes’ number.
While I agree that the character does spend
the better portion of the film being a damsel
in distress and a bit irritating at times, her
first scene is picture-perfect. The film doesn’t
relent until its trio of heroes crash land in
India and it’s from there on that the story
takes a somber, darker tone.

It’s
something I appreciate about the movie, one
of which helped make the PG-13 rating come into
usage in the mid 80’s. It is darker. It is more
sober with its stolen children, heart ripping
villain, and a sequence where the famed adventurer
becomes a bad guy for a stretch. That darkness
makes it stand out, like The Empire Strikes
Back
does in the Star Wars universe
as an edgier middle act before coming up roses
in the home stretch. Yes, it has icky moments.
Yes, it’s not as playful. Yes, there are moments
of slapstick comedy.



Terry smiled, knowing another
Kiwanis meeting had gone according to plan.

With
all that said, it works.

The
scene at Club Obi Wan is terrific, Ford is the
leanest and meanest Indiana Jones of the bunch,
and the overall film has more balls than the
others most likely due to the fact that all
of the involved parties had carte blanche for
the first time and were able to do whatever
they pleased. These days, as family men they
talk about how disappointing the film is, but
it represents a group of talented people in
their prime doing it their way and I don’t appreciate
their revisionist mentality. Thankfully, they’ve
not tinkered with the film. That would have
sucked in a “special edition’ kind of way. Can
you imagine Indy trying to saw the rope bridge
with a walkie-talkie?



…and
like that, Mola Ram’s Kali-Tastic Thuggee
Webcam
was put to rest by Short Round and
that chick from Black Rain.



Some
of the effects suffer a little bit, and the
mine car sequence isn’t as thrilling as it was
back then (but still better than the conveyor
belt scene in the most recent Star Wars
flick), but watching these films back-to-back
reminds me why I love these movies. They’re
fun, they’re alive, and they’re a perfect time
capsule to those “growing up” years.

I’ll
defend this one forever.

8.8
out of 10

Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade

There
was a slightly longer period between the 2nd
and 3rd films in the series as the
cast and crew went on to fame and fortune in
their respective careers, but when Indiana Jones
came back he came back with force and the resulting
film is one that most fans claim is by far the
second best in the trilogy (though a fourth
film is threatening to come to fruition).

This
film is a lot more akin to the original installment
in subject matter, but the softer side of the
filmmakers almost ten years after making Raiders
of the Lost Ark
is obvious. Beginning
when Indy was a teenager, Indiana Jones
and the Last Crusade
starts off with
a sequence I originally hated but now tolerate.
It’s a good action sequence for the most part,
and the way it does its traditional “reveal”
of the title character is turned on its ear
when the fedora-clad rogue is this time a scoundrel
being spied upon by the Boy Scout era Indy.
The feel is still there, the mood. Additionally,
like the two that preceded it, the film does
the Paramount logo dissolve and hits all of
the pacing beats and Indy film should. With
that in mind, River Phoenix handles all aspects
of the Indiana Jones role except the look. His
mannerisms are solid and his experience as Harrison
Ford’s son in The Mosquito Coast
surely gave him ample preparation, but his floppy
1989-era hairstyle and overall River Phoenix-ness
takes me out of the picture every time. The
role is so grafted onto Ford (I’ve never watched
the ‘Young Indy’ show because of this) that
anything less than a spot-on Ford impersonation
makes any sequence not involving the actor a
pointless one.

What
the intro does accomplish is establishing the
father/son relationship between the bullwhip
cracking hero and his bookworm father played
by Sean Connery. It’s a major bit of stunt casting,
something that works most of the time even though
it has no right doing so. Connery’s great, but
it’s a rare day indeed when the Sean Connery”
is washed out of his performance. There’s never
a moment where it feels to me like a father
and son, instead being a really cool pair of
actors onscreen together. I love Connery to
death, but his presence makes the film too light
at times and while it’s always entertaining
it also feels like a stripped down Indy movie.



The first publicity still from
fourth film, tentatively titled Indiana
Jones and Molestation Lawsuit
.



The
Nazi’s are back, Marcus Brody is back, John
Rhys-Davies Sallah is back and so is the easier
to grasp religion-based artifact hunting. These
are for the most part very good things. I never
really appreciated how solid Davies and Denholm
Elliot were in their roles until seeing this
film again and knowing just how expertly they
keep it from being a rehash. It’s the little
things about the franchise that resurface here
that keep it from being a failure. It’s the
characters and their apparent long history together.
It’s the memories we’ve retained from the first
film. It’s the knowledge that the film marks
the end of an innocence of sorts. I was nine
years old when the first film hit and it couldn’t
have been a more perfect fit for me at the time.
At twelve, I was getting a little bit of arrogance
and starting to shape who I’d be as a teenager
when the darker second film hit and when Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade
arrived I
was on my way out of high school and supposedly
moving on with my life. The thoughts of becoming
an archaeologist were long gone, but Indy had
been a great companion through those important
years and this film seemed like a postcard to
the fans. A warm goodbye that was as comic and
light as the second film was serious and aggressive.



The Indiana Jones films
were filled with religious iconography and political
subtext, like their statements on the class
system and the Red Scare (pictured here).



The
resulting film featured villains that were fine,
but unmemorable. It featured a leading lady
that didn’t have enough personality to compete
with Marion or Willie. It also chose to spend
a little less time with their main actor in
favor of showcasing his younger incarnation
as well as give his father ample screen time.
The set pieces were fine, but when they didn’t
echo the first film they still didn’t do enough
to raise the bar.

It
was a good episode in the story of Indiana Jones,
but in my opinion the weakest and most “sitcom”
of the series. With that said, a decent Indiana
Jones film will always be better than the best
Mummy film, so at the end of the day this is
still a wonderful time at the movies.


8.2
out of 10

The
Look



…and the winner for the coveted
‘Most Annoyingly Generic Kid Ever’ award goes
to… FATFISTFACE FUCKACROSS!





All
three films have been given a remastering job
by the folks at Lucasfilm and are presented
in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio the films are intended
to be seen in. That’s good, especially considering
that not one image of Boba Fett was added into
the films for future generations.

For
the most part, they’re gorgeous to look at.
Not Monica Bellucci or Gisele Bundchen gorgeous
but a decent Cindy Crawford or Angie Everhart
gorgeous. I was a little surprised about how
some of the blacks registered, and I watched
the films both on my 16×9 Widescreen HDTV Hitachi
as well as my 27 inch Panasonic through my XBOX.
The blacks felt a little weak, nothing terminal
but enough to make me remember it.

Still,
this is Indiana Jones on DVD in widescreen splendor
(a fullscreen edition of the set is available
for Satanists and Morlocks) and there is no
reason these shouldn’t be playing on your demo
unit when friends, enemies, or Nepalese warriors
show up at the house.

9.0
out of 10



“May I suggest you try the
grilled rack of Pam Dawber? It’s my favorite,
except when the chef whips out his Judy Garland
Soufflé.”



The
Noise



Q:
What’s sexier on a DVD package than the DTS
logo?

A:
The THX logo.

If
you don’t get a little chill when Raiders
of the Lost Ark
awakens your screening
room with the sounds of the jungle, John William’s
slow building theme, and those classic scenes
unfolding one after the other… then you’re
probably Druid shit.



And with one twist of the handlebars,
Ivan lived out his yearbook prophecy ‘Most Likely
to Be Exploded Near An Archaeologist’.





This
sounds phenomenal. Dialogue is crisp, the 5.1
delivery offers up quite a few directional surprises
and when the speakers need to work overtime,
the DVD provides the punch they need. My favorite
sequences, surprisingly… were the quiet ones.
The sound design in these films were stunning
and hearing them for the first time in a very
long time in true surround… yeah, I got a
little emotional.




9.5

out of 10



The Goodies



Ellie finally divorced Jack when
he showed up late one evening after a night
out contracting the Robert Loggia Virus
with his friends.





I
want to tell you that this is an amazing collection
of special features, the likes of which that
will have you tossing your The Fellowship
of the Ring
extended edition into the
river and have you spending your evenings pulsing
in the corner with all of your available blood
redirected to your engorged erections. I want
to tell you that, because it’s quite a visual.

Sadly,
no dice.

Instead,
I will say that the bonus fourth disc contains
a wonderful epic documentary on the making of
all three films (actually three documentaries
that you can view as one or three) that truly
is a lovely way to see the films unfold as well
as get a current take from the principals (some
of which have not aged too well and are downright
freakish to look at in their interviews). It’s
a great feature length documentary that showcases
a whole lot of the magic being made. It’s stunningly
good.



“I told you that the skies
were filled with little winged Peter Falks!”

It’s
also pretty much the only thing you get in the
way of special features. Sure, there’s no shortage
of mentions of the official Indiana Jones website,
but the shorter featurettes leave a bit to be
desired. There’s looks at the stunts, FX, music,
and sound FX work of the films… and they all
run around twelve minutes. They’re solid…
but they just tease as to just how much we could
have gotten.

No
commentary. None. Spielberg’s not a fan of DVD
commentary, although if he were to start his
filmmaking career in 2003 instead of the 1960’s,
he’d spend his evenings like we do… listening
to DVD commentary tracks.

Will
there be a double dip? I don’t care. Indy is
on DVD and I’m happy. However, when it comes
to all sorts of special features our imaginations
will have to be enough.

As
an aside, the menus are a bit cheesy.

5.0
out of 10



At the same time as a stiff breeze
carried his girlfriend away, Ford realized he’d
not only left the oven on at home but he’d also
forgotten to feed his pet Michael Gambon.





The
Artwork

This
is a really attractive little collection. I
had a wish that they’d have made a little leather
bag like Indy’s and have the discs fit in there
and then I remembered how annoying it is when
DVD cases don’t fit onto the shelves and was
pleased to see what they ultimately did.

The
artwork is the original stuff, and the aged
leathery look lends a very Indy feel to the
set. It’s all it needs to be. There is one sucky
aspect…

Yes,
the first film is listed as Indiana Jones
and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
. Why
not just get all revisionist and call it Indiana
Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Far
Side of the World
while we’re at it?

9.0
out of 10

THE
FLICKS: 10.0/8.8/8.2

THE LOOK: 9.0

THE NOISE: 9.5

THE GOODIES: 5.0


THE ARTWORK: 9.0

OVERALL: 9.0