Indiana Jones Skull DVD

Saturday, 01 November 2008 11:31

The much anticipated fourth instalment of the Indiana Jones films appeared in cinemas earlier this year to mixed reviews. I myself found it hard to accept this latest and perhaps final part of the Indy stories as an outstanding piece of cinema. Perhaps director Stephen Spielberg and producers George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy were pushing the boundaries too far? Or was Harrison Ford just too old at 66 to recapture the glory days of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? If only all the involved parties could have decided on a script a few years ago would this have been a better film?

On watching the film for the second time with the addition of some excellent extra features I believe I was a little too harsh on the film after the first viewing at the cinema.

Indiana Jones returns to DVDThose uninitiated into the world of Indiana Jones before now may have found some of the iconic references and in-jokes going over their heads but there is still plenty to enjoy here. Indy is the embodiment of the boy’s own adventurer. He is a dusty super hero who is at home equally in a library amongst ancient texts or rushing through medieval catacombs escaping some long-forgotten booby trap.

The film opens with Indy and his friend George ‘Mac’ McHale (Ray Winstone) being held captive by Colonel Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), a Russian soldier who is intent on taking a mysterious package from the US Government. We are treated almost immediately to a fine chase sequence through Area 51 and the Nevada desert. A suitable beginning to an adventure film with a fine pedigree.

Unfortunately we are next treated to one of the most ridiculous pieces of celluloid I have ever seen. An atomic bomb is tested with Indy somehow in the middle of the test area; how can our hero escape? He climbs into a lead lined fridge and is thrown, by the blast, clear of the danger area. Unless you have seen this for yourself you will not believe it. The whole sequence is probably about five or six minutes long; it does not move the plot along in any way and, in my opinion, could and should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

But, that small gripe aside, I enjoyed “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” more with the second viewing. I found Shia LaBeouf’s Mutt an interesting character this time round; initially I had found him irritating. His scenes with Ford and Karen Allen’s Marion (Indy’s squeeze from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”) were fun, with many looks of shock from each character as secrets were revealed during a jungle chase that included a swordfight and much heavy artillery.

John Hurt as Professor Oxley is perfect in a role that requires insanity and comic timing in equal measures. The actor, probably only needing to ‘act by numbers’ appears to relish the part.

The action, following the obligatory plot explanation is relentless, with barely time to breathe between each chase and fight. Standout scenes include the killer ants (you will be itching and scratching for a long time afterwards), and our heroes’ entry to the temple. Anyone who has ever played a computer game of the “Tomb Raider” style will enjoy the puzzle-solving aspect of these scenes.

Not wanting to give away the ending I will say only this: you will either be blown away by the fantasy or mildly disappointed by the similarity to other films of this genre. But the conclusion is fitting, and ties in well with what has gone before it.

For all the films faults the extra features for the DVD release are stunning. They are simply presented but both entertaining and informative. Unlike many film releases this is not just a collection of ‘TV Spots’ and promos, but well thought out and edited gems. Of particular note is the Production Diary which follows the filming of the major action sequences and the important plot setting scenes. This is interspersed with talking heads from the cast and crew that is relevant and entertaining. It is always fascinating to see how much work and attention to detail goes into a film of this nature.

Atomic bouncing fridges aside, the film is a good addition to the Indiana franchise which has taken at least ten years to be realised. This film set the bench-mark for development hell, but perhaps it was worth the wait.

“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is available from 10 November 2008, in a two-disc DVD edition priced £24.99, or as a two-disc Blu-Ray edition priced £29.99, or get it for less from www.culttvstore.com

For those coming in late, a mammoth five DVD box set, “Indiana Jones: The Complete Collection” (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Temple of Doom”, “Last Crusade” and “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”) is also available, with a RRP of £44.99.

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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