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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > History > TV > Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection + The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three – The Years of Change (Paramount DVD Box Sets)

Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection + The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three – The Years of Change (Paramount DVD Box Sets)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: B-/A     Films/TV Series:


Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) A

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) B

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) A-

The Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones: Volume 3 [Episodes] B+



Many other critics often reference the Indiana Jones films as downward spiral.  Most critics loved the first film, then thought the second film was dark/different yet still ok, and finally they felt the third film was just one long ‘joke’ that kept throwing back to the previous two films for favorite moments.  This reviewer is here to say that he whole heartedly disagrees with those critics.  Each Indiana Jones film had its own unique charm and never felt exactly like the previous film, but in many ways that was intended.  The entirety of the Indiana Jones series is meant to chronicle an epic hero’s best moments and adventures, just like old comic books or even Flash Gordon.


In the case of Indiana Jones, he is swinging back into action on DVD with the Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection DVD box set; fans would be foolish to think that Lucas and Spielberg were not going to double dip their Holy Grail (Star Wars excluded).  Perhaps having drunk from the cup of eternal life, the Indiana Jones films have aged amazingly well and will most likely always remain cinema classics.  Spielberg and Lucas’s pulp portrayal of the past with historic events infused throughout has always been an audience pleaser and an innumerable amount of films, to this day, copy its basic styling.


It is impossible to lump all three of the Indiana Jones films together as one cohesive entity, because they are so different; but at the same time they lend very well to each other and have created a trilogy of films that has allowed a hero to evolve into a pop-culture firestorm.  The film series has been previously analyzed by other reviewers on this site to a heavy degree for the three films use of darkness, adventure and humor; but there are still a few comments left to be noted by this reviewer. Follow the link below to previous reviews of the films:





Without heavy synopsis, Raiders of the Lost Ark (now Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) was a smash hit with its 1981 premiere and changed the face of action/adventure cinema for all time.  Raiders is the best scripted of the three films and perhaps has the most heart.  The casting was strong, the plot was there, the loose use of historical fact coupled with action and comedy was purely serene and in the end a film was created that anyone could enjoy.  Lucas was the main idea man when he approached Spielberg in the late 1970s about doing a film based on the ‘old Saturday Matinee serials’ that would be full of action, mystery, humor, and rely on a slight cheesiness that would captivate rather than distract.  Lucas and Spielberg delivered perfectly on all fronts.


As the largest grossing film of 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark managed to make cinema be fun again by filling our minds with action and adventure all while showing the hysterically funny side of Harrison Ford, who presents the comedy of the film in such a deadpan manner that it in many ways has never been duplicated.  So that begs the question, when did Harrison Ford lose his sense of humor?  As an interesting side note, the famous sword fighter scene in the film was originally intended to be much longer and epic, but due to Ford just getting over food poisoning he was not up to the challenge.  Instead of a long winded battle scene Ford suggested ‘Why don’t we just shoot the bastard,’ Spielberg agreed and it became one of the best scenes in the film and possibly one of the top scenes in film history.


Moving along to 1984, Lucas and Spielberg decided that it was time to have some fun again with their favorite action hero and created Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (originally Temple of Death).  Temple of Doom was written as a prequel to Raiders, taking place one year earlier, and is by far the darkest film in the series.  Whereas the first and third installments of the Indiana Jones series had a great deal of humor throughout, the slight humor that was in Temple of Doom was more physical comedy that did not work as well and was massively overshadowed by the darkness of the script.  In Temple of Doom Indiana manages to get himself wrapped up in a heap of trouble with a cult that is obsessed with Goddess Kali and have enslaved the local children to mine for 2 of the lost sacred stones (Sankara).


The cult, headed by the evil Mola Ram, make human sacrifices and hope to rule the world once they have obtained the other two Sankara.  Between abusing children, tons of fire, bloodshed, and ripping the hearts out of a living people Temple of Doom definitely managed to capture the award for darkest Indy film and though the film is this reviewer’s (and most peoples’) least favorite, the series would not be the same without it.  The problem with Temple of Doom was that whereas we accept Indiana Jones films for being a little off-center, humorous, and full action; the slight darkness of Nazis, guns, and even faces melting off, never overshadowed the light hearted action that the films brought to the table.  Temple of Doom, however, was a tad too dark and not in quite the same vein as the other two films.  For whatever reason, though, it worked and does not seem so out of character that it disrupts the Indiana Jones epic chronicles.  If George Lucas was trying to make Temple of Doom be his idea of darkness for Indiana Jones like Empire Strikes Back was in the Star Wars series, he went a little too far for it to be perfectly believable as an Indiana Jones installment.  The film is no where near as memorable or eventful as the other two films in the series, but is a heck of a lot better than most films.  If nothing else Short Round is the same actor who played Data in the Steven Spielberg-produced Goonies…and that is just awesome.


If Temple of Doom was Lucas and Spielberg’s idea of darkness, the third film falls at the opposite end of the spectrum as a humor filled jaunt of lighthearted fun (for the most part).  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is the most action filled and lighthearted installment in the Indiana Jones series and is this reviewer’s personal favorite.  Whereas the first film is definitely the best made and written film in the series (with Oscars to prove it) as even Steven Spielberg says ‘Last Crusade is an audience favorite.’  The entire film the audience sits on the edge of their seats, laughing, and waiting anxiously in anticipation to cheer when everything turns out ok.  The film feels a lot like Raiders at times, but brings its own charm to the series with a ton of deadpan humor and brilliantly staged action sequences.


The pairing of Harrison Ford with Sean Connery is probably one of the smartest ideas ever.  The duo worked incredibly well off each other and whereas Connery was never exactly the feeble old man, he did do an excellent job taking a step back from his normal powerful Bond-like presence.  This is not to say Ford stole the show either; Connery and Ford worked so well as father and son they almost seemed to be one entity.  Who would have thought Ford and Connery were the Peanut Butter and Jelly of action/adventure cinema?  It is also odd to think that the father and son team are in reality only 12 years of age apart.  The film did an excellent job of bringing humor to the table, yet not letting it go so off track that it was no longer and action film.  It is an action/adventure film with a strong comic element; where else can you see the Nazis portrayed in such a washed, stereotypical light?


Finally we come to the Indiana Jones television series, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three- The Years of Change.  Like the films, this reviewer views the Young Indiana series as one solid entity.  Whereas many other reviewers will say that Volume Three has the least to offer with the later years being the least exciting, the series must be reviewed as one cohesive piece.  Though they are broken into re-edited/volumized sets here on DVD the series episodes were truly just one big venture for George Lucas and in the end were never meant to be picked apart.  Many criticize the Young Indiana series of being too dry without enough of the action/adventure that we have become accustomed to from Dr. Jones.  The series does dance a thin line between entertainment and ‘edu-tainment,’ but in the end pulls it off as fun television.


The series is most definitely history driven (especially since Lucas is such a huge history buff) and is meant to have both elements of the character and his sense mischievous adventure that we love, yet also bring more to the table by letting the viewer experience the history that was unfolding around our favorite hero.  Lucas uses unending amounts of historical fact for the series and in this final box set we finally get to experience even more of the great editing Lucas uses of archival film footage that blends Indiana into historical events; like the Treaty of Versailles.  Some of the best episodes do appear on this third volume, including ‘Peacock’s Eye’ and ‘Winds of Change,’ even a long awaited reappearance of Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford, appears as a 50 something Indiana who reminisces about the past in ‘Mystery of the Blues.’  Because of Harrison Ford’s appearance, ‘Mystery of the Blues’ is also the only one of the feature length re-edits to contain bookend sequences to the episode that in all other cases had been cut out.


George Lucas cut out all of the bookend sequences of Indiana as an elderly man, probably for future continuity’s sake; you know just in case they need to wheel out a 90 year old Harrison Ford to shoot some footage later.  Lucas likes to forget about and change the past, but in he somehow forgets we all still remember; Star Wars Christmas Special anyone?  The series is well worth completing with this final box set and along with the seven great episodes there are also 31 in-depth documentaries and an interactive timeline.


The technical features on the new Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection and The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three - The Years of Change have not changed much since previous releases as far as picture and sound but the extras on the aforementioned sets are a mixed bag.  The picture on the Adventure Collection is presented in the same 2.35 X 1 Anamorphic Widescreen that was nicely restored for the previous The Adventures of Indiana Jones DVD set that was released.  The picture has practically zero dirt or debris, nice color with only few issues here and there with skin tones, and little light/dark issues.  The sound is once again presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound that was converted from a mono track to a stereoized track for the first two films and Last Crusade was already presented in a stereo surround when it was upgraded.  The sound on the first two films comes heavily from the front, but they still remain to be solid tracks.


The third film has a much bigger punch with the sound quality being more fluid as it projects from the surrounds.  Between the three discs for the three different films there are 12 all new special features added that are nice, but not as great as the extras disc that was included in the previous trilogy set.  Extras included in the new Adventure Collection include New Introductions to each film by Spielberg and Lucas, The Indy Trilogy: A Crystal Clear Appreciation, The Mystery of the Melting Face, Snakes Alive, Storyboards, Creepy Crawlies, Discover Adventure on Location with Indy, Indy’s Women Reminisce, Indy’s Friends and Enemies, and Photo Galleries.  The great special features that were available on the previous set are not present here and it is sad because it makes this set a not very worthy upgrade (hang onto your old sets).


The technical features on The Adventures of the Young Indiana Jones: Volume 3 are once again excellent and their amazing quality can and will only be improved once they are put onto a better quality, High Definition format.  The sound and picture on this set have been remastered from the best quality masters LucasFilm could find, and it shows.  The picture has had its original 16mm footage cleaned and is presented here in a 1.33 X 1 Full Screen format, which is accurate.  Though this reviewer would have liked a nice Anamorphic Widescreen presentation and it might be possible to make it that way in a future 1.78 X 1 HD release.


Even block style, I must admit the picture is crisp, clear, color balanced, and is basically fantastic for DVD.  The sound is presented once again as a crisp Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Stereo soundtracks that decodes to standard surround and remains excellent and balanced, though DTS would have been nice.  Overall, LucasFilm did an amazing job remastering the picture and sound of this epic series cleaning it up and making it look better than it ever has.  Lucas had used the show as a ground to experiment for future digital work on feature films and you can see that at times too.


There are once again a multitude of extras and documentaries available on this set.  Volume One offered fans 38 in depth documentaries and Volume Two offers up 26 more and now the final and third volume offer 31 more in-depth documentaries.  The documentaries are interesting as they chronicle the moments and figureheads of history that are featured throughout the various episodes of the series.  These documentaries only further George Lucas’ original intention of the series to act as a teaching tool as well as entertainment to younger generations.  The new documentaries feature such historical figures as Ernest Hemmingway, Dracula, Woodrow Wilson, and many, many more.  The special features once again include interactive timelines (another attempt to organize the poorly edited sets), a videogame, and few more special tidbits that are sure to excite, teach, and entertain.


There is not anything to dislike about the Indiana Jones series.  All of the Indiana Jones films are ranked in this reviewer’s favorite films of all time and they only seem to get better with age.  So get your whip and dust off your leather jacket, because there is a lot more adventure to be had.



-   Michael P Dougherty II


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