After 19 years, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Harrison Ford finally have gotten back together again for another outing with Indiana Jones. This isn’t like any Indiana Jones film we have seen in the past as technology has advanced a lot in the film world since the third film, ‘Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade’. In 2008, we have ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ return to theaters topped box office sales at $317 million dollars with a budget of $185 million brining more than the rest of the films in the franchise.

We have the setting for yet another explosive opening to an Indiana Jones film. While the last Indiana Jones trilogy was set in the 1930’s, ‘Crystal Skull’ setting revolves more around the 1950’s sci-fi era. The atmosphere and setting feels more like it is right out of the sci-fi era considering an ‘Area 51’ like test site at the beginning of the film.

Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones (Harrison Ford) is a teacher, archeologist, action hero, and adventurer. While Ford does look like he has aged quite a bit to play Indiana Jones, things do come together in this film to make this yet another enjoyable adventure. As I mentioned earlier about Jones looking older, Lucas and the writing team decided that they would set the film nearly 20 years after the events and time period of ‘Last Crusade’. I am happy that this was the direction that they took because to try and play the audience into believing Jones is still in his 40’s just would not work. The film takes place during the Cold War and Jones is being spied on by the Russians while he is trying to accept a coded message. This coded message for Jones is from his colleague Henry Oxley (John Hurt), which causes him to be captured by the Russian Communists. Their leader Col. Dr. Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) forces Jones and Oxley to help them find the mysterious Crystal Skull. The Crystal Skull unlocks true power that Spalko wants to use against the rest of the world and the Ancient City of Gold awaits the one with the Crystal Skull.

Jones will meet Mutt Williams (Shia LeBeouf) at the train station and his old sweetheart Marion Ravenswood (Karen Allen) from the original ‘Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark’ makes a return. The three will join forces to solve the mystery of the ‘Crystal Skull’ and the first outing with Dr. Jones and a set of aliens.

While this may not be the best ‘Indiana Jones’ outing out of all four films, I had a rather enjoyable time watching the film. There is a lot to enjoy here if you can get past some of the hokey CGI and the over processed digital look of the film. The locales look absolutely stunning from the sequences at the beginning of the film to the Nevada bomb test site to Aztec temples. The new era and setting works very well here in ‘Crystal Skull’ giving the series a fresh new look and environment. The only problem though at first is that Harrison Ford just doesn’t look right for the role due to his age and as a longtime fan you are expecting a younger Ford/Jones to appear on the screen. Once things start moving from scene to scene, the things start to fall into place.

The acting is fantastic in ‘Crystal Skull’ with A-list caliber actors, Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, and Shia Lebouf. Karen Allen also returns to reprise her role as Marion, to a degree lacked the spunk she had in the first film, but was a nice added addition to the cast to help tell the side tale about Dr. Jones and the family that he never knew he had.

Picture/Audio Quality
The print is presented in a 1080p/AVC encode with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. While we have not yet received any of the first three ‘Indiana Jones’ film on Blu-ray, the latest entry ‘Crystal Skull’ is a very beautiful transfer that I will enjoy until the rest of the films are released in high definition. My biggest grip that I want to get out of the way immediately is that this film feels to overly processed by digital camera work and CGI of almost every environment that Dr. Jones travels to. Due to the print being so CGI laden, it sometimes causes the actors to not look like they fit well against the backdrop. With this minute issue out of the way, the print is absolutely gorgeous and very clean. Details are excellent for an example with stone on the walls, vegetation, the skulls, and even down to the CGI killer ants look amazingly detailed. Colors are also very vibrant throughout the film.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix and this is outstanding throughout the entire film. The effects coming out of the surrounds during the action sequences and during the beginning of the film really immerse you in the on goings of the film. The score which is composed by the returning John Williams also sounds very good throughout the film. If you are an audio enthusiast, you will fall in love with the audio alone for ‘Crystal Skull’. The dialogue was very clean and crisp through the center channel and very well balanced with surrounds.

Special Features
The special features in ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ is spread across this 2 disc Special Edition. Lucas has gone all out here with the special features on the disc providing them in 1080p, which is rarely unheard of. If the rest of the ‘Indiana Jones’ films receive this kind of treatment when released on Blu-ray, we will be in for a real treat.

The Return of a Legend Featurette is great for us long time ‘Indiana Jones’ fans as we take a look back at how long the development process was to getting this film made. I found the Production Diary to be the most informative extra on the entire special features with a behind the scenes look at the film. For those that don’t believe that the ‘Crystal Skulls’ are true, check out The Crystal Skulls Featurette.

  • Pre-Production Featurette
  • Indiana Jones Timelines
  • Trailers
  • The Return of a Legend Featurette
  • Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Shooting Begins, Back to School, Welcome to the Jungle, On Set Action, Exploring Akator, and Wrapping Up!)
  • Warrior Makeup
  • The Crystal Skulls
  • Iconic Props
  • Adventure in Post Production
  • The Effects of Indy
  • Closing: Team Indy
  • Pre-Visualization Sequences (Area 51 Escape, Jungle Chase, and Ants Attack)
  • Galleries (The Art Dept., Stan Winston Studio)
  • Production Photographs
  • Portraits
  • Behind-the-Scenes Photographs

Fans of ‘Indiana Jones’ and new comers will enjoy ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’. I liked the film a lot and it only makes this release that much better is with top quality vide, audio, and 2 discs with special features. The one thing though that I wasn’t a fan of was the excessive use of CGI. There were times throughout the film where the CGI just didn’t fit right. Overall, I highly recommend ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’ as a purchase.

List Price: $39.95, Sale Price: $26.95 – Order today from (Amazon and Save)