Complete Adventures of Indiana Jones VHS
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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
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As with Star Wars, the George Lucas-produced Indiana Jones trilogy was not just a plaything for kids but an act of nostalgic affection toward a lost phenomenon: the cliffhanging movie serials of the past. Episodic in structure and with fate hanging in the balance about every 10 minutes, the Jones features tapped into Lucas's extremely profitable Star Wars formula of modernizing the look and feel of an old, but popular, story model. Steven Spielberg directed all three films, which are set in the late 1930s and early '40s: the comic book-like Raiders of the Lost Ark, the spooky, Gunga Din-inspired Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and the cautious but entertaining Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Fans and critics disagree over the order of preference, some even finding the middle movie nearly repugnant in its violence. (Pro-Temple of Doom people, on the other hand, believe that film to be the most disarmingly creative and emotionally effective of the trio.) One thing's for sure: Harrison Ford's swaggering, two-fisted, self-effacing performance worked like a charm, and the art of cracking bullwhips was probably never quite the iconic activity it soon became after Raiders. Supporting players and costars were very much a part of the series, too--Karen Allen, Sean Connery (as Indy's dad), Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan, Amrish Puri, Denholm Elliot, River Phoenix, and John Rhys-Davies among them. Years have passed since the last film (another is supposedly in the works), but emerging film buffs can have the same fun their predecessors did picking out numerous references to Hollywood classics and B-movies of the past. --Tom Keogh
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There's no point in rehashing the plot here, given that these are three of the most popular movies ever made, I rather doubt there's anything I could add to the discussion. Instead, I'm going to limit myself to the technical aspects of the release, and the extras. First off is the picture is spectacular; I'm sure compared to the original releases it is excellent, but when compared to the fullscreen television versions we're used to seeing it is breathtaking. The movie literally looks like it was shot yesterday, as the colors leap off the screen. The resolution is superb on my regular DVD player, what it would look like on a progressive scan player, I can only imagine.
The sound is equally outstanding; as anyone who has seen these movies knows, sound effects and score are essential to the success of these films. Both are superbly rendered in 5.1 surround, such that every punch, gunshot and whip crack has never sounded better. Likewise, John Williams' award winning scores all sound fantastic.
Then there are the extras. First off, I have seen statements at various locations on the internet that deleted scenes are part of the set. This is simply not true, each movie is presented exactly as it was released in the theaters, and the fourth, bonus disc does not contain any deleted scenes. This is somewhat disappointing, as I have to assume there are ample scenes which didn't make the films. While I wouldn't advocate modifying the originals, deleted scenes are always fun to watch as a separate feature.
What the bonus disc does contain are documentaries detailing the conceptualization, casting and filming of each of the three episodes. In addition, there are several short features covering sound, special effects, etc. There are aspects of these documentaries that I really enjoyed, particularly the evolution of each episode from concept to script; Spielburg's and Lucas' insight into the creative process was well presented and interesting. However, these features would have been better had they discussed some of what was abandoned as the story evolved; some of the most insightful commentary from directors often comes from what is left behind, as it casts light on what makes it onto film. Finally, the original theatrical trailers are included; more than anything, they are amusing, as they seem downright primitive when compared to the extravaganzas we see at the theaters today.
To sum up: fans of these movies are going to buy them regardless of what I say, but you can rest assured that you are getting your money's worth. While I think the extras could have offered a bit more, what made it on to the discs is interesting in its own right. Moreover, the presentation of the films, which is what really matters, is second to none. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the picture and sound on these movies is as good as any I have ever encountered.