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With all the key players back in place, INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL ($40) is a delightful return to old school action adventure entertainment of the first three films in the series. However, this installment updates the formula… this time mixing the flavor of movie serials with that of 1950’s science fiction films. Bringing fifties sci-fi into mix is appropriate to this outing, since not only have nineteen years passed since we have seen Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) on the silver screen, but the same amount of time has passed in the life of the character. Transporting the character from Nazi fighting in the 1930’s, we find ourselves in 1957 at the height of the red menace, with Indy coming up against Soviet forces seeking extraterrestrial artifacts.

When we first encounter Dr. Henry Jones Jr., he has been abducted by Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) of the Soviet Union and dragged off to the Nevada desert to help locate alien remains hidden in a government facility. Although, Indy is able to escape his Russian captors, FBI suspicions swirl around him, and thus, Dr. Jones finds himself placed on a forced sabbatical by the University. Sought out by a young greaser named Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), Indy learns that his old friend Professor Harold 'Ox' Oxley (John Hurt) has gone missing after discovering the whereabouts of the lost golden city of Akator. Heading off to jungles of South America to find Oxley, Indy and Mutt follows the clues Ox left behind, which leads to the grave of Francisco de Orellana and the crystal skull discovered in Akator by the Conquistador during the 1500s. Of course, Irina Spalko and her Soviet comrades are also seeking the crystal skull, so it doesn’t take long for Indy and Mutt to find themselves abducted. Upon their arrival Soviet’s camp, Indy discovers the Russians are not only holding Ox prisoner, but also Mutt’s mother, who just happens to be Indy’s old flame Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). The cast of INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL also features Ray Winstone, Jim Broadbent, Igor Jijikine and Alan Dale.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is really quite excellent. INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is stylistically reminiscent of the preceding three films in the series, so the cinematography comes somewhat closer in appearance to an eighties film than a brand new movie. Still, the image always appears wonderfully sharp, finely detailed and highly dimensional- just like a new movie. Colors are rich and fully saturated, plus the presentation produces highly appealing flesh tones. There is a golden quality to the color palette that helps create the vintage quality and ties it to the look of the earlier Indy films. Blacks are deep and accurate, while the whites are crisp and clean. Contrast very good and very smooth. Shadow detail is sublime. The film elements are virtually pristine. There is a mild veneer of grain throughout the course of the presentation, which helps maintain a very film-like quality.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. No surprise here, the track is absolutely demonstration quality. The sound design is in full action movie mode much of the time. Sound effects are aggressively deployed throughout the entire soundstage, so the outlying channels engage nearly continuously. Sounds whiz around the soundstage and leap out at the viewer from all directions. Even the smaller moments in the film are mixed to provide a nice amount of envelopment. Fidelity is just great; the track produces a warm, full-bodied musical component, as well as convincing sound effects. The bass channel is deep and powerful, without becoming overwhelming. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is easy to understand. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of the set. Disc one includes two Featurettes: The Return Of A Legend (eighteen minutes) and Pre-Production (eleven minutes), plus an interactive Indiana Jones Timeline and two Theatrical Trailers

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. The main supplement of the second disc is a six-part Production Diary: Making The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (eighty minutes). An additional six Featurettes are also include on disc two: Warrior Makeup (five minutes), The Crystal Skulls (ten minutes), Iconic Props (ten minutes), The Effects Of Indy (twenty two minutes), Adventures In Post-Production (twelve minutes) and Closing: Team Indy (three minutes). Disc two also includes Pre-Visualization Sequences (fourteen minutes) and extensive Still Galleries.

INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL marks a delightful return to the innocent action adventure entertainments of the past. The Blu-ray presentation is pure demonstration quality all the way. Absolutely recommended.



Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull [Blu-ray] (2008)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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