REVIEW: “Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection” In 4K Ultra HD is Worth The Upgrade


On June 12, 1981, Raiders Of The Lost Ark was released in theaters. It was a collaboration of two giants in film history, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and introduced the world to Indiana Jones, played perfectly by Harrison Ford. The character of Indiana Jones became a worldwide movie icon and became synonymous with the words action and adventure. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raiders of the Lost Ark, Paramount Home Entertainment has released the Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection for the first time in 4K Ultra HD. Each movie in the collection is presented in Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio.

“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – Blu-ray (2012)
“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – 4K Ultra HD (2021)

All four movies were remastered in 4K from the original film negatives and approved by director Steven Spielberg. The 4K transfers are a very impressive upgrade from the Blu-ray discs that were released back in 2013. The Blu-ray release of Raiders had suffered from the film being over saturated, which resulted in the characters looking orange at times. This has been fixed and the skin tones are much more natural. The brightness has been toned down too, giving it a more pleasing presentation. The bump in 4K has really brought out the detail in all of the movies. There are times where images are still a bit blurry, but that has to do with the manner in which the film was shot. Overall, you can clearly see an increase in detail in the stitching in clothes, the lines in the characters faces and even the bricks from constructed buildings.

“The Kingdom Of the Crystal Skull” – Blu-ray (2012)
“The Kingdom Of the Crystal Skull” – 4K UHD (2021)

The Dolby Vision presentation really adds to the look of the film. Colors really pop, and the brightness and contrast levels adjust from scene to scene. The color timing has been changed for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull with great results. I know for most it is the least favorite film of the four, but the new look really helps the film with a more natural appearance. Out of the four films, Crystal Skull seems to edge out the rest due to the fact that it had a pretty severe change and improvement in color timing and it was filmed and edited with the latest technology back in 2008.

“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – Blu-ray (2012) – The lightning strike goes through Indy’s hat and head!
“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – 4K Ultra HD (2021) – Lightning strike is fixed!

What surprised me is that the special effects, and even some of the CGI, has been cleaned up to make the films more presentable. I had no idea that, like the Star Wars Special Editions, there had been tinkering with these films after each release. The difference is that there was never any additional footage or dialogue added that changed the story. They just attempted to correct mistakes due to the fact that they were victims of the film technology at the time.

“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – Original screen print (1981) – No light bulb!
“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – Blu-ray (2012) – Very bright light bulb!
“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – 4K Ultra HD (2021) – Light bulb is fixed!

The changes are sometimes very minor, but makes the presentation a lot better. Most changes had to do with the earlier films and the presence of matte lines that resulted from trying to incorporate special effects with the actors and sets. At times, matte lines were a little too obvious and distracting to the viewers. After watching all of the films in this set, I would say that for the most part, they are eliminated. You can still spot certain special effects and matte paintings, from time to time, but it looks a lot better. The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull relied more on CGI for its special effects, and at the time, they were jarring and obvious. The good news is that it seems that they might have done some work on the CGI too. There are scenes that are still obvious CGI, but I was less distracted this time around.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a Dolby Atmos receiver to give my impressions on how that performs. Using my 5.1 receiver, the audio is very good. John Williams’ incredible score for the film literally makes use of every speaker at times. The sound effects are very clear and sharp. My one complaint is that it seems that the music overpowers the dialogue at times and its hard to understand what the character is saying.

“Raiders Of The Lost Ark” – 4K Ultra HD (2021)

As far as the movies themselves, it was fun getting to watch all of these movies again, and probably more enjoyable being since I watched them back to back and within two nights. I think for most people, Raiders is by far the best of the films. It definitely stands out in that this was the film to introduce Indiana Jones and his adventures to the world. It is also the best written, has the best acting and has the best musical score. People knew Harrison Ford as Han Solo, but after this movie, he will always be remembered as Indiana Jones more. For the time, the character of Marion (Karen Allen) may have been a damsel in distress, but she more than held her own and was as tough as nails. The special effects at the time were groundbreaking and still work well today. Who could forget the opening scene when Indy retrieves the idol or the scene where Indy rides on horseback to get back the Ark from the Nazis? It’s just a classic from beginning to end that defined the genre and doubt it will ever be beaten.

“Temple Of Doom” – 4K UHD (2021)

The Temple Of Doom was interesting in that it wasn’t a sequel, but a prequel. What I liked about this film is that there were no Nazis this time around and it was a completely different setting and opening scene. What I also like about this film is this was, for the most part, non stop action. Raiders had a better story, but if you were a person that preferred a fast action orientated film, this was your film. And where Indy was kind of part of ensemble in the first movie, he was more front and center here. Yes, there was Short Round and Willie that were on the adventure with him, but they were more side characters. This film also has the best villain in the series, Mola Ram, and is by far the darkest film in the series. I also love Short Round (Key Huy Quan) in this. Its one of the rare times in film that a sidekick helps improve the adventure, but he never gets annoying nor takes away from Indy. Many people criticize the character of Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), but I think she was fine. Unlike Marion, she was more of a Marilyn Monroe type, which was how the character was written. And Raiders may have introduced Indy to the world, but this film made him iconic. If you haven’t seen this in a while, check it out again. It really is a roller coaster ride of a movie.

“The Last Crusade” – 4K UHD (2021)

I may get some hate for this, but I always felt The Last Crusade was overrated. I was never a fan of the opening scene, seeing young Indy on the circus train escape his pursuers. Where Raiders was a drama/action film, and Doom was a horror/action film, this was a comedy/action film. And for me, this suffered the same fate of Return Of The Jedi. It was just more of the same. The Nazis are back looking for a religious object that will give them power to rule the world. And I have always loved Sean Connery as James Bond and his performance in The Untouchables, but I feel like he is more like Sean Connery in this, than Indy’s dad. I love that father and son are opposites and both Ford and Connery work well together, but I feel like this could have been better. The worst part of the movie for me is John Williams score. It is so different from the previous movies and Indy’s theme is barely used. The main villain is also very uninteresting. I still enjoy the action scenes and Ford and Connery’s interactions together, but this is my third favorite Indy film.

“Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” – 4K UHD (2021)

The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull should have never happened. Partly because the Last Crusade ended with everyone riding off together into the sunset during the end credits. It was the perfect ending for the series. Crystal Skull was just a cash grab using the Indy name and trying to jump start the series with Indy’s replacement, his son. I watched this the other night, and although it has a ton of problems, Harrison Ford performance as Indiana Jones is excellent. I think he is better in this film than in The Last Crusade. Indy may have been older, but he still was Indy. I love the opening scene in Area 51. I know most people hate the Indy in the fridge scene, but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is Mutt (Shia LeBeouf) swinging through the jungle with monkeys. This movie is about two hours and I would say that for me the first hour works. It starts to fall part by bringing in too many characters. The movie would have been better without Mutt, Marion (Karen Allen) and Ox (John Hurt). It would have worked better if it was just Indy and Mac (Ray Winstone). Even though Mac was a traitor, Indy and Mac were the only ones with any chemistry. The story is also very convoluted. I’m still not 100% sure what happens at the end, more like, why the ending even happened. If any movie in the series needed a directors cut, its this one. I honestly think that if Spielberg was given a chance, he could make this a much better film. Get rid of the fridge flying miles in the air without Indy dying, get rid of Shia and the monkeys and Shia fencing on the jeep and most of John Hurt’s scenes. It would still be the worst movie in the series, but a hell of a lot better.

If you are a fan of Indiana Jones, or have never seen any of the movies before, this is the box set you have been waiting for. This is the best that these movies have ever looked or sounded. Highly recommended.

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