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DVD Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

My wife and I went to the midnight showing of this film when it was first released in theaters, and we were both a bit disappointed in it. Many of the events that take place seemed either silly or just impossible... and yeah, I know all of the Indiana Jones movies have these issues, but this movie just seems to pile them on. When you have one after another after another, it's not so much fun as when you have one or two scattered about. Also, the overall plot, the adventure, didn't seem nearly as interesting. But hey, maybe we were just having a bad night. Maybe we weren't in the mood for such a movie. I thought we were, but maybe we weren't. Or maybe we just hyped it up too much in our heads. So when the DVD came out, we just had to check it out again.

On the second viewing, our opinion of the movie unfortunately took a turn for the worse. I almost dozed off several times during the flick, and had to wake myself up by doing something, either grabbing a snack or talking with my wife about whatever was going on at the time. She quickly determined that she had to keep busy as well if she wanted to stay awake, though she was lucky enough to have a laptop to help her out. This should not be happening during an Indiana Jones movie!

That's not to say there weren't any good parts, because there definitely were. I loved how they kept Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, and just aged him appropriately. I was cool to see him older, wiser, and yet still be the active adventurer that we all fell in love with. I also liked that they brought back Marion, but I think that they could have used her a lot more in the story. Lets see, what else... well, there were some nice moments of humor. And some good action.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull That being said, there are more things that I didn't like. Mutt, for instance. By the end of the movie, I was questioning why he was really even a character he seemed almost completely unneeded. And some of the stunts they had him do, like sword fighting on two moving jeeps driving through the forest, or swinging Tarzan-style through the forest to catch up to the jeeps... just holy crap man, what the hell were they thinking when they thought that crap up? And why didn't someone tell them hey, you know this is stupid, right?

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull This kind of silliness just keeps on going, as there is this one scene with the Russians in the forest using some cool vehicle to wipe out trees in order to make a road through the forest. This is cool, even if we are asked to believe that the forest floor would be smooth enough to create such a road just by mulching up everything in front of the vehicle, but then the vehicle is destroyed and a jeep chase ensues... and not just on one mysteriously appearing forest road, but on two that are parallel to each other! And then there's another scene where everyone ends up being attacked by giant computer generated ants. Being attacked by a swarm of fire ants? Cool! Making those ants over-sized computer-generated creatures? Not cool!

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull The basics of the plot Indy going to rescue an old friend, Professor Oxley, when Mutt shows up and tells him that he's been kidnapped. His quest to find his friend lead him to clues involving the location of a mystical crystal skull... which may have been cool except that it was already found, so that was kind of a disappointing quest. Anyway, Indy is captured by the Russian villains, and then is forced to lead them to some lost ancient city where the skull needs to be returned in order for the returner to get ultimate knowledge. Of course, when hearing about that ultimate knowledge, we all assume that what they really mean is death, since that's how it always turns out.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull I did, however, like the ending. If you've seen the movie and your going "you actually liked that?", then you misunderstand. I'm not talking about that disappointing computer-generated effects-driven alien nonsense that tries to tie up the storyline, I'm talking about AFTER that, the VERY end, which I don't want to give away by describing it.

The good thing about the two-disc DVD release is that after watching the movie, you can actually watch all of the various making-of featurettes, which turn out to be way more enjoyable that the feature film. And from watching all those, it really seems like the movie should have been better than what eventually became. What a total disappointment! I sure hope they make another one, as I would hate for such a great franchise to end on this film.

Disc 1:

  • Feature Film
  • The Return of a Legend — The evolution of the new film and a tribute to the legendary hero and his creators.
  • Pre-Production — Follows Steven Spielberg as he creates animatic sequences, Shia LaBeouf as he learns to swordfight and captures the reunion of filmmakers and cast on the soundstage.

Disc 2:

  • Production Diary.
    • Shooting Begins: New Mexico
    • Back To School: New Haven, Connecticut
    • Welcome to the Jungle: Hilo, Hawaii
    • On-Set Action
    • Exploring Akator
    • Wrapping Up!
  • Warrior Makeup
  • The Crystal Skulls
  • Iconic Props
  • The Effects of Indy
  • Adventures in Post Production
  • Closing: Team Indy
  • Pre-Visualization Sequences
    • Area 51 Escape
    • Jungle Chase
    • Ants Attack
  • Galleries
    • The Art Department
      • The Adventure Begins
      • Cemetery and Jungle
      • Akator
    • Stan Winston Studio
      • Corpses, Skeletons & Mummies
      • Aliens & Crystal Skulls
    • Production Photographs
    • Portraits
    • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs

There are actually five different exclusive versions of this release:

  • Circuit City - 2 lithographs of concept art from the movie.
  • Best Buy - Gift Set with replica crystal skull from Sideshow Collectibles and a $25 gift card to Sideshowcollectibles.com.
  • Target - Exclusive Packaging is a beautiful hard cover book from Palace Press with 80 pages of behind the scenes photos, including many never-before-published images.
  • Kmart & Sears - Four Exclusive LEGO mini-posters. Each poster is a LEGO replica of the original theatrical poster from all four Indy films.
  • Trans World - Exclusive Steelbook Packaging.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, released by Paramount, is available starting October 14, 2008.

Press Release: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

The highest-grossing installment of the phenomenally popular adventure franchise, with more than $770 million at the global box office, Paramount Pictures and Lucasfilm Ltd.’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will make its highly anticipated debut on DVD and Blu-ray October 14.

Released by Lucasfilm Ltd. and Paramount Home Entertainment, the film will be available as a two-disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray loaded with spectacular bonus features that allow viewers to accompany the filmmakers and cast on a fascinating journey behind-the-scenes of this modern classic.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Frank Marshall, with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy as executive producers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is the newest adventure in the phenomenally successful INDIANA JONES series, which has earned six Academy Awards® and over $2 billion worldwide.

Set in 1957, the film stars Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone and John Hurt, following Indy on a perilous adventure to find the coveted Crystal Skull of Akator. From the ivy-covered halls of Marshall College to the verdant jungles of South America, Indy is relentlessly pursued by sinister Soviet agents who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the eerie object of fascination.

The two-disc Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray presentations feature hours of new content that opens up the world of Indiana Jones as never before through in-depth footage of Steven Spielberg and his cast and crew at work. From Shia LaBeouf’s training to become a master swordsman to Harrison Ford’s reunion with his fedora, whip...and Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, viewers will play witness to the magic of cinema’s greatest action-adventure hero’s triumphant return to the big screen, as well as the of the extraordinary work of legendary artists who brought Indy’s latest thrilling adventure to life.

In addition, all four INDIANA JONES films will be showcased in the quintessential Indiana Jones collection entitled The Complete Adventure Collection, which will include the first three films plus the two-disc Special Edition DVD of the latest installment.

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