Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review

Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection, Paramount, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-Region BD, £80

Movies: When filmmaking giants George Lucas and Steven Spielberg teamed up 40 years ago the result was arguably the greatest blockbuster in the history of Hollywood cinema. A rousing and breathless throwback to the pulp adventure serials of the 1930s and 1940s, Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) mixed non-stop action, astonishing stunts and a sharp sense of humour with hair-raising, face-melting frights that you simply wouldn’t be allowed to get away with in a family action movie today. It also presented Harrison Ford with his most iconic role (sorry Star Wars fans) as the sardonic, whip-cracking, Nazi-bashing, archeologist-turned-action hero Indiana Jones.

A massive hit at the box office, Raiders… spawned a franchise to rival the popularity of Star Wars. The first sequel, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) took Indy off to India for an encounter with an ancient cult fond of enslaving children and ripping still-beating hearts out of chests. Darker in tone than its predecessor, Temple of Doom also lacks the tightness of the first film’s script – but still delivers plenty of high-octane thrills and spills.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) followed five years later. While the plot (involving Nazis and the hunt for the Holy Grail) can feel like a retread of Raiders… at times, the arrival of Sean Connery as Indy’s father not only serves to add some more depth to Harrison’s character, but also results in some terrific comedic moments.

It took almost two decades for Indy to return to the bigscreen (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles hit TV in the ‘90s), but Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) left some wondering if it had been worth the wait. The first in the series to really feel like a tug of war between Spielberg’s and Lucas’s filmmaking sensibilities, this uneasy mash-up of 1950s B-movie and a modern day blockbuster ends up feeling weirdly detached from the rest of the series (despite the endless callbacks). Not as bad as some say, but not a patch on the earlier films, either.
Movies rating: 4/5


Picture: For their Ultra HD Blu-ray debut, all four of the Indiana Jones movies have been ‘meticulously remastered from 4K scans of the original negatives’ according to the studio. While these may well be the same 4K scans that were used as the basis for their 2012 Blu-ray release, extensive work has also been done cleaning up the visuals effects for this outing. The major upshot of this is the elimination of hard matte lines on composite shots, resulting in a more cohesive appearance to photography that doesn’t automatically draw attention to itself as a ‘special effect’.

The other big difference is colour grading. Right from the start of Raiders of the Lost Ark it becomes apparent that the photography now boasts a more balanced colour palette, removing the almost neon green foliage from the Blu-ray with something that looks a lot more natural. Similarly, the golden hue that was so obvious on Blu-ray has been toned down here, giving the film a much more earthy — not to mention authentic — appearance.

That’s not to say that the Raiders…, or any of the sequels come to that, now look in any way gloomy or lack vibrancy. The wider colour gamut ensures there’s plenty of richness to the palette – it just doesn’t look as artificial now. And, of course, the films are still capable of painting the screen with beautifully saturated tones; …Temple of Doom’s opening musical number and later red-hued caverns being standout examples.

The new HDR grades (HDR10 and Dolby Vision are included) add further lustre to the films’ photography. The expanded contrast range delivers deeper shadows and brighter highlights that bring an increased sense of depth to the visuals. Images that were tricky to discern properly on Blu-ray (such as Willie accidentally trying to hang up a bat instead of her wet clothing in …Temple of Doom) are now rendered so much clearer. Such upticks in detail don’t just stem from a surge in brightness, though, but also from improved colour reproduction and clarity.

Naturally, the 4K resolution also reveals plenty of previously unseen detail in the franchise’s 2.40:1-framed photography. Background objects that were little more than fuzzy shapes on Blu-ray are now crisply rendered, while mid-shots and close-ups are awash with intricately rendered textures in the environments, costumes and people’s faces. The native film grain is also better resolved (for the most part, but see below), looking tighter and more organic; its enhanced presence in …The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull makes that film’s photography (by Spielberg's now regular collaborator Janusz Kamiński) appear not quite so far removed from that of the three previous films (all lensed by Douglas Slocombe).

However, for all of the above, there are traces of digital filtering across all four 4K encodes. It’s certainly not excessive and the majority of viewers probably won’t notice it at all, but tell-tale instances of frozen grain and posterisation will be sure to catch the attention of eagle-eyed home cinema-hedz. But even while these 4K encodes are not quite perfect, they come bloody close and are by far the best these movies have ever looked.
Picture rating: 4.5/5 Indy_4K_Blu_ray_boxset_review_3.jpg

Audio: Not content with giving the four films a 4K HDR facelift, they’ve also been treated to a Dolby Atmos upgrade for this Ultra HD Blu-ray debut. While some will lament the lack of the original audio, fans can rest easy in the knowledge that legendary sound designer Ben Burtt (who worked on the original mixes) supervised the creation of the new Atmos tracks from the legacy audio elements.

Building on the exceptional DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks that accompanied the films on their earlier Blu-ray releases, the new Atmos mixes are even more impressive affairs that offer a fuller, more immersive audio experience. So, while they retain the same dizzying dynamism and pinpoint accuracy in their spatial effects as those 5.1 mixes, they now feel even more seamless and encompassing, with John Williams’ iconic scores frequently extending into the height speakers alongside atmospheric effects like rain and thunder.

Dedicated height effects aren't especially pervasive but are skilfully deployed and prove surprisingly effective, whether it’s the sound of that boulder starting to roll above Indy’s head in Raiders…, a ‘giant vampire bat’ fly-by in …Temple of Doom, a brush with a giant propellor in …Last Crusade, or the cartoonish ‘twang’ effect that accompanies the lead-lined fridge that flies over the car racing away from the nuclear explosion in …Crystal Skull. What’s most impressive though aren’t the individual effects (although they are pretty knock-out), but they seamless way they’re used to create genuinely cohesive and dynamic 360-degree, three-dimensional soundscapes.
Audio rating: 5/5 Indy_4K_Blu_ray_boxset_review_4.jpg

Extras: If there’s any aspect of this UHD boxset that disappoints, it’s the extra features; and that’s only because there’s nothing new here. Everything from the trailers that accompany each film (three each for Raiders… and …Crystal Skull, two each for …Temple of Doom and …Last Crusade) to the seven behind-the-scenes documentaries and five featurettes bundled together on the bonus Blu-ray platter also featured in the 2012 Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures BD boxset. Even so, while it would have been great to have some new material to mark Raiders of the Lost Ark’s 40th anniversary, there’s no denying that this was already a pretty comprehensive collection of goodies.

The UHD boxset also comes bundled with Blu-ray copies of each film, plus a double-sided map.
Extras rating: 4.5/5


We say: Fortune and glory, kid! An impressive 4K Dolby Vision/Dolby Atmos upgrade of the existing Blu-ray boxset.

Indiana Jones: 4-Movie Collection, Paramount, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-Region BD, £80