Indiana Jones: The Complete Collection
IMDB Links: Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Film specific reviews: Raiders of the Lost Ark Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
In those days of my youth going to the movies was an event. You got a lot for the price of admission. There was a featured film, one with the best stars of the day, a second feature with somewhat less credentials, a news reel (this was way before CNN), some cartoons and an installment of the action packed serial. A serial was a film cut into fifteen minute or so segments, one segment shown each week. While this format has largely been taken over by television it was a staple of film going for a long time. Each week you could watch the hapless hero find himself in an impossible amount of danger only to get out alive at the start of the next week. The three Indiana Jones films of this set bring us back to those days without us have to wait week after week for the conclusion. While each film is more than worthy of independent consideration what they have in common is the sense of excitement, romance and thrills. The movies follow the exploits of Doctor Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones (Harrison Ford), who while in the confines of his teaching position is a meek and mild man, adored by the throngs of young female students. When the noble Doctor Jones is in the field as an archeologist he seeks out impossible to find artifacts of great importance. Whether it is the lost ark of the Mosaic covenant or the Holy Grail, he endures the forces of evil to obtain the item. In an emulation of the original serials most of the action is set in the thirties, the era of the growing threat of the Nazis. This nicely sets up the age old conflict of pure good and evil. Indy is the old fashion hero; there is no doubt that he will do the right thing. None of the conflict that confounds many modern protagonists is anywhere to be seen here, Indy is a good man, these films where based on a simpler time when good and bad where easy to tell apart. We sit there and cheer has he takes his faded leather jacket, his famous hat and whip through everything the bad guys can dish out only to survive, get the girl and the artifact. These films are as close as possible to pure entertainment.
These three films are so well loved, so part of the world film consciousness they where always on the ‘must have’ lists of films that demand to be on DVD when the format started. About five years ago Paramount released a full set of all three films. Now, with the much anticipated release of the forth Indiana Jones movie, Paramount has come up with a new set and for the first time each film will be released individually. Of course, most die hard fans will want the whole lot. The new releases are the same fresh re-mastered set as before with a brand new set of extras to keep you watching long after the movies are done.
Between the Indiana Jones films and the original Star Wars trilogy Harrison Ford has become one of the most popular actors, as well as one of the biggest box office draws, ever in American cinema. What makes him so successful in roles like this is Ford is perfect as the everyday hero. There are no super powers, no extraordinary abilities just an intelligent man that is drive to do the right thing. The men in the audience want to be him and the women, well they just plain want him. He has an almost boyish charm about him that contrasts to the machination of the villains. My wife and daughter never miss an opportunity to watch his films and I can’t say I want to miss them either. Indy is always beaten, cut to pieces and bruised during these films but there is a determination that grabs the audience giving us the satisfaction of cheering on this underdog to victory. Of course every hero needs a leading lady and Indy has three incredible selections. In the first film there is Karen Allen whose presentation of Marion is one of strength, determination and drive that is more than a match for Indy. She can drink a Mongol warrior under the table and still look great. In the second film there is Kate Capshaw, as Willie, the displaced singer along for the ride. She is not as bold as Marion but overcomes her many fears to rise to the occasion. Finally there is Alison Doody as Elsa, although not as good as Indy is used to she also is a strong willed woman who falls for our hero. In all cases the casting of these films is perfection. Finally in the last movie we see Indy’s father played to a tee by Sean Connery. As the senior Doctor Jones he commands the screen in his usual fashion. The interaction between Ford and Connery is fantastic and provides many of the best scenes of this trilogy.
All three films where directed by Steven Spielberg, perhaps one of the best directors ever to set foot on a sound stage. While he has taken on every genre possible here he is at his finest. In these films he shows us the magic of film that must have captured his imagination as a young boy staring up at that large screen. Each film takes us on a roller coaster ride of excitement. There are no hidden meanings to ponder here just a couple of hours where the audience can forget the modern world and be come kids again. His use of special effects in these movies is ground breaking. Rather that relying on these effects to drive the films they simply provide the fantastic environment for the acting. He allows us to care about the characters. Spielberg is a director that knows how to frame a scene. To cut these films to pan and scan ratio is a crime. You need to take in everything, to become emerged in the action.
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
This film starts out with one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history. Indy and his guide, Satipo, played by a very young Alfred Molina, are exploring a deep tunnel. They navigate through a series of bobby traps to find a golden idol. Just as Indy takes it and thinks he is in a clear the wall breaks away and a huge round bolder chases Indy and Satipo. Once outside the idol is stolen by a rival archeologist the purely evil Dr. René Belloq (Paul Freeman). Back at home the head of Indy’s friend and museum curator, Dr. Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliott) tells Indy that some government agents want to speak too him. They want Jones to locate and recover the famed Ark of the Covent before Hitler’s people can get a hold of it. Indy knows the one clue that he needs is in the hands of the daughter of his former mentor, Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). The Nazis are also after her and the amulet that contains the location of the ark. What follows is a world wide jaunt that eventually takes Indy and Marion to Egypt to fight the Nazis who are now joined by Belloq. This is the film that started the franchise and brought back old school adventure to the screen.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
This second film was a prequel taking place a few years prior to Raiders. Here Indy starts off in Singapore where he has discovered an artifact desired by a criminal overlord Lao Che (Roy Chiao). When the deal goes bad Indy and a club singer Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) go on the run. The plan they are fleeing in was sabotaged by men in Che’s employ and they pair wind up in India. Once there the elders of a small village tells Indy that all of their children have been taken as slave labor for a near by mine. Indy agrees to help out and along with Willie and his young assistant Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) wind up in the middle of a diabolical cult. If you look closely during the scene where Indy is escaping on the plane you will see director Steven Spielberg and comedian Dan Aykroyd. Spielberg would also go on to marry the leading lady, Capshaw. Although a couple of other films were technically first this film was the one that was rated PG-13 was created to address.
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Since this was at the time believed to be the capstone of the Indiana Jones trilogy many of the little details of Indy were disclosed. The film opens when Indy was a boy, played by the late River Phoenix. We get to see how he started on his quest for hidden artifacts and his respect for the past. We also learn why he is afraid of snakes and how he first got his trademark fedora and whip. The audience is also introduced to his father Professor Henry Jones Sr. (Sean Connery). His father’s life long quest was to find the legendary Holy Grail. When the elder Jones goes missing Indy is sent the Grail journal that his dad has been writing all his life. It contains every scrap of information on the Grail know to man. Once again there are Nazis and evil archeologists who generally make Indy’s quest for his father and the Grail miserable. He also partners with a beautiful researcher, Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody). It turns out that both Indy and his dad have an intimate understanding of the young woman. No matter how brave and daring Indy is he is still a little boy in the eyes of his father. This film adds issues between an adult child and parent that add more human depth than the other two movies.
All the films in this set feature the re-mastering used in the 2003 DVDs. The images are crisp and clean with many of the technical imperfections and artifacts cleaned up. The audio is an incredibly robust Dolby 5.1 that will completely fill your living room. And now for what you all have been waiting for the list of the all new extras.
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade