Paramount continues to lovingly craft their Blu-ray releases. They might have been late to the game, but when they produce such high quality packages as these, it's hard not to forget their past transgressions.
The vast majority of extras are presented in 1080 HD and as such look excellent. The use of scenes from the previous Indiana Jones films well and truly whet the appetite for the inevitable Blu-ray release of those. Let's hope it's sooner rather than later.
Steven Spielberg continues to eschew recording audio commentaries, so it's left to the 80 minute 'Production Diaries' documentary to tell the stories. As is common with longer documentaries these days, it's cut up into six separate featurettes, but clearly meant to be watched with the 'play all' option. This documentary serves as a very in-depth documentary of the entire filming process, pretty much from the start, right up to the end of production. This should answer the majority of questions people had about the film!
'The Return Of A Legend' featurette talks briefly about the long gestation of the film, but fails to go in depth about the number of drafts and their authors (including Frank Darabont), but quickly brings us up to speed to the final draft by Spielberg regular, David Koepp. It was interesting (and just a little telling) to repeatedly hear the crew say they thought they were finished with the Indiana Jones movies, but I laughed a little when Spielberg casually throws it out that "fans demanded it" - so it's our fault eh, Spielberg?
'Pre-production' featurette is a brief journey from the time that the movie was greenlight to just before filming. It was nice to see Karen Allen, yet a little disappointing not to see Sean Connery. However, based on how the film turned out, probably for the best he didn't.
The following featurettes; 'Warrior Makeup', 'The Crystal Skulls', 'Iconic props' take a more in depth approach to these very specific parts of production than what is offered in the longer, more over-arching main documentary. By far the most interesting is the 'Crystal Skulls' which goes a way to justifying their hokey inclusion in the script.
'The Effects of Indy' Featurette is probably going to be the most controversial of all the extras. For all the pre-release talk of how the film would, for the most part, eschew CG effects and rely on old school practical effects, the truth is revealed here. It's no surprise to anyone that there is a lot of CG in the film, from wire-removal, digital backgrounds replacing matte paintings, to fully CG animals and creatures. While it's nonetheless interesting to see the creation of the effects, many of the problems inherent in the film can be traced back to the methods revealed here.
'Adventures In Post Production' featurette is a quick summary of the final stages of the film, from the changes made to elements of the story, to the final sound mix including John Williams' score; its all glossed over here.
'Closing - Team Indy is a nice send off for the crew whom normally only get to be seen in name only over the closing credits. It's nice to put a face to the name.
The three 'Pre-visualisation Sequences' are generally uninteresting, but show how prepared the sequences were.
I have always loathed Still galleries, yet there are seemingly hundreds of photos here. I neglected to go through all of them.
The Indiana Jones Timeline is an interesting use of BD Java, with fairly in-depth material revealed on both behind the scenes and story elements of the film.
Finally, we have two Theatrical Trailers, presented in 1080p with Dolby 5.1 sound. I remember just prior to release, the final theatrical deliver being delivered a mere three or so weeks before the films release, no doubt to try to prevent a Phantom Menace type backlash.
Review Equipment Used:
Display: Sony KDL52X3100 LCD (1080p resolution/ 24p playback)
Player: Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray, PlayStation 3 (24p playback)
Sound: Sony STR-DA5300 Receiver (7.1 configuration), Sony SSX70ED front speakers (x2), Sony SSCNX70ED center speaker, Sony SSFCR7000 surround speakers (x4), Sony SAW3800 Subwoofer, (Front) Sony SAWM500 Subwoofer (Rear)