TIE.c's Indiana Jones DVD Review

The Complete Adventure of Indiana Jones on DVD!

Indiana Jones DVD Review

The Man With The Hat finally arrives on DVD! Essentially, we’ve been waiting for this box set ever since the DVD was invented. The minute I popped the bonus disk into my player I was thrilled. The excitement built up over the past few months has been staggering, and this was the day, the peak of Indy Fandom. This was the day of the Indiana Jones DVDs! I began my viewing with a quick peek at all three films, viewing the menus, and all three films to get an idea of the quality. I then sat down and spent several hours watching the bonus features – what a journey! I then went on to watch each film and it's like seeing it for the first time! There are plenty of documentaries to watch, and just one viewing isn’t enough. So, without further to do, here is my review of the Indiana Jones DVDs.

The Box Set

Well, when I picked up my copy of the DVDs, I was amazed at how wonderfully packaged this set was. The attention to detail is simply beautiful. I was thrilled to see that they had done an embossing to the cardboard box. They gave a raise to the Indiana Jones text, and to the entire box itself, giving it the feel of leather, very nice. One thing I noticed with all three films were the unique menus.

When I first saw screenshots of the DVD menus, I was caught off guard. Everything had a paintbrush look to it, and at first I didn’t know what to think, and didn’t believe it was the right thing to do. I was wrong. When you see it all play out and you see the animation of these menus it really gives you the experience and the feel of Indiana Jones that it well deserved. Just know that when you get your Indiana Jones DVDs, you’re in for a real treat. Lucasfilm has faithfully brought the Man with the Hat to a new level!

The Films

We’ve all seen the films, so I won’t spend much time talking about them individually, but there are some things that are worth noting. I noticed right away the quality of the film. You can truly see a difference in the crispness with the films. I did a comparison of the DVD and the VHS on a large screen television and was shocked at how wonderful the image looked! I never expected the films to look this good. The color is much clearer – you can see the green moss and grass in the films, and everything comes out much clearer. It’s like looking at the films for the first time.

The sound on these DVDs is another thing that makes this release so wonderful. We’ve gone for years with a simple 2-channel soundtrack, and now with the advent of new technology, we’re able to see and hear the DVDs like never before. There’s nothing like hearing Indy in 5.1, simply magical. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t release the DVDs with a DTS audio track, that would have been wonderful, but in any case, this is light-years ahead of what we’ve had in the past. If you have a surround sound system capable of Dolby Digital 5.1, put Raiders in, crank up the volume, and watch the boulder chase. Need I say more?

Bonus Disk

Bonus Disk

All three Indiana Jones films on DVD, can it get any better? Probably not, but Lucasfilm was able to pull it off! The Indiana Jones 4th disk, created by DVD producer Laurent Bouzereau, with Bonus Material makes this box set even more desirable. The way I see it, if they were to release just all three films in a DVD box set with no features, it would still be worth $50 bucks. So, by adding over 3 hours of excellent and entertaining features that you will actually enjoy watching, makes it all the better.

I’ll say it right now, as far as DVD worthy content for the Indiana Jones films that’s out there, this collection has barely skimmed the surface. Is that a bad thing? Well, you’ve got to have something new to bring out when they re-release the entire series with Indiana Jones 4. ;) I can also confirm that there ARE deleted scenes on the DVD, but it’s production footage, and it’s in the midst of the documentaries, which I will talk about later.

'Making of' Documentaries

Making of Documentaries

When you look at the Making of documentaries on the Indy DVDs, you must understand, that these were put together for the DVDs themselves. Lucasfilm along with Laurent Bouzereau has put a lot of hard work, time and effort, and we have Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas to thank for this. A lot of people complained that there wasn't enough material on the DVDs, these documentaries more than make up for anything that we missed out. So get ready to discover what went on behind the scenes in the making of your favorite films of all time!

The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark - The Making of Raiders takes you behind the scenes for an in depth look at the work that went on in the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was done in the order that the film was shown, not the order that the film was shot, I assume to keep continuity so no one would get confused. Well, if nothing else, you learn a lot about Raiders from this documentary. There’s plenty of production footage, concept art, unseen footage that is presented with a commentary from just about everyone involved in making the film.

The documentary begins with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg giving you an over view of how the story of Raiders began – pretty much the same kind of info we’ve known about over the years, but it doesn’t end there. You get to see a lot of footage that we’ve only seen pictures of. Most interesting of the behind the scenes footage is the screen test with Tom Selleck and Karen Allen. Selleck had a completely different take on the Indiana Jones character. He was very brutal and more downbeat than compared to Harrison Ford. He seemed more hot-tempered and yelled at Marion – essentially Selleck’s Indy is completely different from Ford’s Indy.

The Documentary also included some cool test footage of Indiana Jones learning to crack the whip. Costume designer Deborah Nadoolman also gave some input on how the Indiana Jones costume was created and what her vision of it was. Also included in the documentary were production footage of deleted scenes, in particular the scene in which Marion pulls Indy in for a kiss during their meeting in the Raven bar, and later on the scene in which the young German soldier is ordered to execute Sallah.

After watching the Making of Raiders documentary, you get a whole new look at how the film was made, and it’s very interesting to hear the stories form the cast and the crew. The input and the work that everyone has put into the feature make it a wonderful extra that you will certainly enjoy.

The Making of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom - After watching the Making of Temple of Doom feature, it looks as though it was a fun movie to make. Basically the same format as the Making of Raiders feature, the Making of Temple of Doom had a lot of good behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. It’s fun to see the cast after almost 20 years – not a lot has changed, except for Short Round. Seeing a full-grown Ke Huy Quan was quite shocking. The stories from the set were another great aspect of the Making of documentary. For instance, in one scene just before the mine cart chase, as Shorty is running for the cart with Willie in it, he breaks a piece of wood over a Thuggee guard and a piece of the wood flew off and hit Kate Capshaw just bellow her eye and the next day she came in with a black eye. To her surprise, as she came in to work the next day, everyone had put a black mark just bellow their left eye. Wonderful story. It’s things like that that make these making of features so enjoyable. Little known facts about our favorite films that you won’t find anywhere else.

Another great story with Kate Capshaw was in an original scene during their journey to Pankot Palace, Willie was going to be freshening up in a pond and a snake was going to come down behind her. Kate refused to do the scene, so they decided to cut it. One thing to note is that Spielberg stated that Temple of Doom was his least favorite of the Indiana Jones films, and the best thing he got out of it was that he met Kate Capshaw, who later became his wife.

Another great piece of the documentary was the look at how they created the mine cart chase. Basically, about half the shots during the chase were live action and the rest were shot with a miniature made entirely out of tin foil painted to look like stone. It’s really amazing how creative and innovative these special effects people were. It goes to show that these film maker scan do anything with anything and the documentary clearly shows that. Not to mention, you get a lot of great footage that you’ve never seen, including a few scenes of Indy and Willie using wooden planks to get across the lava pit in the temple.

With the Making of Temple of Doom special, you look at the film in a different way. Temple of Doom looked like a real fun movie to make. The special effects were inventive and very well done, especially for the day – a tribute to everyone involved with the making of the film. You also get a sense at how the stories came about and what certain scenes were done the way they were. After you see the Making of documentary, you won’t look at Temple of Doom the same again. It’s truly a wonderful feature, with plenty of rare production footage, most of which I have never seen before, and lots of stories from the set.

The Making of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - Probably the best parts of the Making of Last Crusade were the production footage of the Tank chase, and the fact that Last Crusade’s original story was of a haunted castle. Steven Spielberg didn’t like the idea so they simply used it in the beginning of the film (hence, the Brunwald castle). One of the wonderful aspects of Last Crusade was that Spielberg used the film as a way of developing the character of Indiana Jones by bringing back his dad (Sean Connery) and exploring that aspect of his life. After watching the Making of Last Crusade, it’s obvious that everyone had a lot of fun. Everyone was willing to clown around in front of the camera, which gave everything a light-hearted feel and I’m sure it helped keep everyone at ease. It was especially enjoyable to see Harrison Ford hit repeatedly over the head with a breakaway vase.

There were a lot of story aspects that were difficult at first, and neither Spielberg nor Lucas knew exactly how to deal with it. For instance, the relationship between Elsa and Indy and with Elsa and Henry. At first it didn’t seem to work, but they were able to successfully turn it into a humorous situation that worked. It was fun to see the test footage with the fire in the Brunwald castle, which was no laughing matter. But like with Raven bar fight in Raiders, the coated everything with a special fame retardant, that allowed things to burn, but not incinerate therefore keeping everything under control.

There was also a lot of work put into the tank chase sequence, which is clearly evident because of how it turned out. There were two tanks used, one was a full sized tank that drove along by itself, and the other one was a tank that was pulled along on a trailer that was only the top half of the tank. That was used in getting the shots of Harrison’s face being pushed against the treads. Again, great work by the special effects team. It goes to show that you DON’T need CGI to have a wonderful looking film with some excellent special effects. As long as you put enough work and effort, you make it work.

In all, the three documentaries are just a few minutes over 2 hours long, and are wonderful to watch. It’s fun to see what when on behind the scenes to make our favorite movies, and to hear what the actors and the people who created Indiana Jones have to say about it. These documentaries are things that we’ve been waiting years to see, and it’s a perfect reward for our patients. The quality and the hard work that went into the Making of features are wonderful, and it was such a thrill to see stuff I’ve never seen before. Hats off to Lucasfilm and everyone who worked so hard to bring us these great documentaries. I believe Mr. Lucas put it best when he said that it is such a thrill to see Harrison Ford in the outfit, and become Indiana Jones.


The Stunts of Indiana Jones - The stunt work that went into making the Indiana Jones films is mind-boggling. This was in the day before CGI, this was the day before you could just film an actor in front of a blue screen and the computer effects guys would just deal with the hard stuff. Harrison Ford and everyone involved actually went out and did this stuff. That was Harrison Ford being dragged behind the truck in Raiders. That was Harrison Ford riding around on the motorcycle in Last Crusade, these stunts were real! That is what makes the Indiana Jones films so wonderful and so timeless, and Lucasfilm has done a wonderful job giving you an idea as to what went into creating the stunts with this wonderful featurette.

The Stunts of Indiana Jones featurette is a little over 10 minutes long, and it gives you a real good look at the kind of stunt work that went into the Indiana Jones films. It was real fun to see all of these masters of stunt work, Glen Randall, Terry Leonard and Vic Armstrong who did most of Ford’s stunt double work. The featurette gives you a good look at production footage of the stunt coordinators working with the actors and showing them how a stunt worked and what to do. Stunt work is one of the best parts of the Indiana Jones films, and this featurette sheds all new light on the subject, giving you a wonderful look at the work that went into making the Indiana Jones films. Another very recognizable stunt man was Pat Roach, the only man who appeared in all three Indiana Jones films other than Harrison Ford.

The Sound of Indiana Jones - One of the most unique aspects of the Indiana Jones trilogy was that they didn’t used canned or archived sound effects for the films. For the most part, when you heard a sound effect in the film it was created for the film and wasn’t grabbed from the stock room which makes the Indy films all the better. The Sound of Indiana Jones featurette gives you a wonderful look at the foley work that went into the creation of the Indiana Jones trilogy. It’s interesting to hear about all of the secrets that went into creating a particular sound. For instance: stacking several leather jackets and then hitting them with a baseball bat created the sound of a punch. They also used cheese casserole to create the sound of the snakes slithering all over each other in the Well of the Souls sequence.

One thing you must remember is that sound did in fact play a crucial role in the Indiana Jones films. Two of Raiders’ Academy Awards came from the hard work that was put into sound editing. The documentary also gives a chance to hear particular scenes from the trilogy without music and just sound, allowing you to hear things you might not have before, every cool. They also did a lot of recordings of whip cracks and created a large collection of cracks that were used throughout the trilogy, rather than just going to an archive and getting a canned whip crack. All of these aspects added with the hard work of the sound designers give the Indiana Jones trilogy an original feel to them, and take large part in creating the thrill and excitement that is truly Indiana Jones.

The Music of Indiana Jones - Probably my favorite of the featurettes, The Music of Indiana Jones takes you behind the scenes to give you a wonderful look at what went into creating the music of Indiana Jones. As you know, John Williams played a big role in the Indiana Jones trilogy. Without the wonderful music he created for the films, Indiana Jones would not be as popular, nor as good as it is today. The documentary on the Music of Indiana Jones gives you a wonderful idea at how the music was created, and that for each different theme that is in the trilogy, each one is so unique, but it still fits in with the rest of the film, which makes it work.

The Raiders March is of course the piece that began it all. One thing that was very interesting about the Raiders March is that John Williams created two versions of it. And when Spielberg heard both of them, he suggested that they use both, thus the famous Raiders March was born. It’s incredible that Mr. Williams can take a simple set of notes and create a theme that you recognize instantly just by hearing the first two notes. John Williams is certainly the best in the business, and proves it with the kind of work he did on the Raiders March and the Indiana Jones films. Mr. Williams also mentions Indiana Jones 4 and that he is looking forward to working on the fourth film – what a thrill it will be!

The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones - The special effects created for the Indiana Jones trilogy weren’t done with CGI, no computer animated stuff this time. The effects for the Indy films were done by hand, by people who knew what they were doing and could take something as insignificant as tin foil and paint, and make an entire set using that. That’s the kind of skill and ingenuity that went into making the Indiana Jones films and that is what makes them so timeless even to this day. The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones featurette takes you behind the scenes with a look at the work and design that went into creating the special effects for the Indiana Jones trilogy. I find it fascinating to see what truly skilled craftsman can do with very little supplies. It’s not every day you see an entire mine shaft miniature made completely out of tin foil, that’s truly amazing. And the best part is: when you see it on film, you’d never know the difference.

The featurette gives you an excellent look at how all these effects in the trilogy were done. When you first see the film, you wonder how they did that, or how they did this, and when you see the behind the scenes documentary, you get an understanding at how it was all done. The Indiana Jones films utilized a lot of model work that made most of the effects possible. For instance: the mine cart chase, the ghosts at the end of Raiders, the plain in the tunnel in Last Crusade, as well as the bridge at the end which was done by just painting a model bridge to blend in with the surroundings. It’s a wonderful way to learn how these effects were done and you have a newfound respect for the people who brought Indiana Jones alive.

Theatrical Trailers

Theatrical Trailers

I always enjoy watching theatrical and teaser trailers for films, especially with older films. Since I was never around to see the ad campaigns for the Indy trilogy, I can’t really judge the collection of trailers on the DVD, to the actual campaign. I would imagine that the TV spots were to be pretty much the same as the theatrical trailer, only cut down to size. Still, the trailers that they include are very cool and a well needed feature. They include the classic theatrical trailer for Raiders (my personal favorite) as well as the teaser trailer for Raiders, and the re-release trailer. They also include the theatrical trailer for Temple of Doom, and production trailer for Last Crusade and the theatrical trailer. They also include an Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb game trailer, which was a little added bonus. Just what I expected as far as trailers.

DVD-Rom Features

DVD-Rom Features

The IndianaJones.com DVD-Rom features give you a wonderful collection of behind the scenes photos, posters, storyboards and other great stuff that we all wanted to see on the DVD. The online DVD extras will be an ongoing experience. Lucasfilm and Paramount promise to bring us a wide variety of updates throughout the coming years and up-to-date Indiana Jones 4 coverage. They also give you a demo of Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb for PC. You’re in for a lot of fun with the online IndianaJones.com extras, so keep an eye on it, there will be a lot more to come!

Overall View

My overall view of the Indiana Jones DVD Collection is simple: I love it! Granted, there could be a lot more features that I would love to see on the DVDs, but for now I’m pleased beyond expectations. You also have to keep in mind that we have ANOTHER Indiana Jones film coming soon, so you can expect a lot more features for the release of all 4 films in a collector’s box set. It basically comes down to the fact that we have the original Indiana Jones films on DVD with an all new digital remastering and it’s been digitally enhanced giving you a wonderful experience when you view the films. And then there’s the box set itself, like I said before, it’s a wonderful packaged. It all comes neatly wrapped in a beautiful box that makes for a wonderful set to add to your collection. The features are fun to watch, the documentaries are very informative and interesting. So go out and buy this collection, you won’t regret it.

~Aaron Gantt, The Indy Experience.com