Indiana Jones 4K releases
review by Bobby Blakey
Easily the biggest non sci-fi adventure series of all time would be Indiana Jones. While there have been ups and downs in the franchise it still stands the test of time offering up all the fun, action and adventure fans love with its gruff and rugged leading man Harrison Ford. Previously Paramount released them in a cool 4K collection, but now they are bringing them out once again individually on 4K in anticipation for the next entry Indiana Jones: A The Dial of Destiny.
While Harrison Ford’s iconic portrayal of Indiana Jones remains one of the most iconic characters in film history it is made all the better by the locales, often over the top action and individuality of each adventure. These films have been reviewed thousands of times at this point, so I am going to do a brief thought review on each film while keeping the focus also on if it’s worth shelling out more cash for this latest release.
The first of the series, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) follows archeology professor named Indiana Jones who is venturing in the jungles of South America searching for a golden statue in 1936. Unfortunately he sets off a deadly trap but miraculously escapes. Then, Jones hears from a museum curator named Marcus Brody about a biblical artifact called The Ark of the Covenant, which can hold the key to humanly existence. Jones has to venture to vast places such as Nepal and Egypt to find this artifact. However, he will have to fight his enemy Rene Belloq and a band of Nazis in order to reach it.
This film delivers everything you could want in an action/adventure film. Its period setting and homage to the old school serials gives it a vibe of its own that no one has ever been able to fully capture since. I always loved the balance we get of seeing adventure Jones and Professor Jones to remind you there are more layers to him than just the action. The classic villains, iconic framed shots and just all around fun keeps it relevant and one that fans around the world still love. From the opening to the film to the closing credits it continues to keep you engaged and still holds up as a great film all around.
The second entry of the series, The Temple of Doom (1984) follows Indiana Jones who teams up with a nightclub singer named Wilhelmina "Willie" Scott and a twelve-year-old Chinese boy named Short Round. They end up in a small distressed village in India, where the people believe that evil spirits have taken all their children away after a sacred precious stone was stolen. They also discover the great mysterious terror surrounding a booby-trapped temple known as the Temple of Doom. Thuggee is beginning to attempt to rise once more, believing that with the power of all five Sankara stones they can rule the world. It's all up to Indiana to put an end to the Thuggee campaign, rescue the lost children, win the girl and conquer the Temple of Doom.
This one had a different tone to it on some level, but one that always worked for me. I love that there are a lot of the same tropes here, but it still felt different. When telling these kinds of tales you have to bring on different elements each time to keep it fresh and new. I know there are some that aren’t a big fan, but I am. The addition of Ke Huy Quan aka Short Round brought a new level of fun and humanity to Jones. Seeing his interactions and care for him while still bringing the usual swag evolved the character in new ways. The action is still great and so much fun all around despite not getting many Nazi’s this time around who always make for great villains.
In the third entry, The Last Crusade (1989) an art collector appeals to Indiana Jones to embark on a search for the Holy Grail. He learns that another archaeologist has disappeared while searching for the precious goblet, and the missing man is his own father, Dr. Henry Jones. The artifact is much harder to find than they expected, and its powers are too much for those impure of heart.
I remember this one coming out and thinking could they keep striking gold with this series and was blown away how great it was. It not only evolved the character and story once again, but gave us some back story to Jones complete with a flashback opening and the addition of the brilliant Sean Connery as his father. I think the reason this one has often been put at the top with the original in quality is not only the new relationship between the Jones men, but it also returns to the original formula with a religious themed artifact and taking on Nazi’s once again further proving that they are always the best villains.
The final entry, at the time, The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) follows archaeologist and adventurer Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr. is called back into action and becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.
This one gets a lot of flack, but would be lying if I said I didn’t still enjoy it. The big issue with this one is the overall tone that seemed to take a more comic book like approach bringing in Tarzan swinging, aliens and more. To be honest, the alien part makes sense to be the next evolution to me since we have dealt with supernatural via cults and religion already so why not. Jones played the character as his age and it made it all the better. The attempt at making more over the top villains this time with the Soviet twist didn’t work as well for me, but I still think the film has its place in the franchise and fun to watch.
All of these films stand up on their own, but the new addition of the high-def
transfer makes them more beautiful than ever. The backdrops pop even more a nd the action more dynamic offering up visuals that rivaled their original release. It’s hard to justify needing to buy yet another release of a film, but this is the exception. These new 4K editions showcase the film the way they should be seen bigger, brighter and better than ever.
Grab your favorite film in the series or all of them when the Indiana Jones series comes to 4K individually on June 6th as well as the already released collection in stores now from Paramount.
Be sure to check out the latest and most likely final chapter Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny when it hits theaters on June 30th from Paramount and Lucasfilm.