Very occasionally the hype of a Hollywood product will match what you see, and that's certainly the case with the "Indiana Jones" trilogy DVD boxset. The wait has been long but boy does this box of tricks entertain.
One of the key achievements in restoring the three movies for DVD has been to give them a uniform fresh appearance with over 970,000 frames cleaned up for each film. We all expected the picture quality to be good, but the cave scenes in the 22-year-old "Raiders" bristle with detail, even in the dark shadows.
All three movies now come with new 5.1 sound mixes. As the first two films were recorded in mono surround, new Dolby mixes needed to be created, and the results are impressive. The best of the lot, though, is "Crusade", which was originally recorded in stereo surround. This mix has been upgraded to the type of 5.1 effort you'd expect a modern film to have, with the plane chase sequence a barnstorming delight in terms of speaker-swapping effects.
In charge of producing the special features for the DVD is Laurent Bouzereau, who previously produced the "Back to the Future" extras. With "Indiana Jones" he has done himself proud with quality interviews that should be interesting even to someone who knows nothing about the film series.
The special features are all on disc four and break down into a two-hour documentary, and four featurettes, each about 12 minutes in length. Bouzereau is lucky in that he had immense amounts of behind-the-scenes footage to play with. George Lucas insisted on someone being on the set of all three movies to get such material. It does make you wonder if the rumours that there's such little material available for the first three "Star Wars" movies are perhaps untrue...
Each movie is dealt with in turn. The range of interviewees is vast, with even bit-part players dug up for a chat. George Lucas is open and often amusing with his quips, and Spielberg matches his honesty (commenting that "Temple" is his least favourite of the series).
The most entertaining extra is the early screen tests by potential Indys such as Tom Selleck and Tim Matheson. What you don't get to see is anything of substance in terms of deleted material. It does exist but neither Spielberg nor Lucas seems to want it included. There is, however, great animatic footage, and video test footage for the mine cart chase sequence.
Harrison Ford comes across as grumpy in his most recent movies, but he's amiable on set in all the footage we see, and is often fooling about. He also insists that he doesn't mind snakes, bugs or rats. To prove the point, he plays with a rat.
The four featurettes cover sound, effects, stunts, and music, with the last being the least interesting of the lot. What's pleasing is that material has not simply been recycled for these featurettes, and you'll find out a wealth of interesting facts about the production (the sound of a rolling boulder is in fact a Honda Civic rolling down a gravel hill!).
This boxset delivers an overriding sense of adventure, from seeing and hearing the movies like never before to the beautifully animated menus, to watching the fascinating behind-the-scenes material.
In these days of DVD extras boring us senseless with CGI effects breakdowns, this is old-fashioned film magic and innovation at its best. You're guaranteed hours of fun that other movie boxsets will struggle to match.
* Indiana Jones: Making The Trilogy
* The Light and Magic of Indiana Jones
* The Sound of Indiana Jones
* The Stunts Of Indiana Jones
* The Music of Indiana Jones
* Original theatrical teasers and trailers
* Exclusive DVD-ROM access to website with image galleries, storyboards, posters and more.
Ratio: 2.35:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Tracks: Multiple languages
Subtitles: Multiple languages
Special Features Subtitles: All of the special features come with subtitles.
The "Indiana Jones" trilogy boxset is out to buy from Monday 20th October 2003.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-N5 DVD player.