PARAMOUNT has released the long awaited "4th" entry into the "INDIANA JONES" series. Harrison Ford is back, and so is Karen Allen for that matter. Age isn't always kind, and while there are some great moments in "INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL," none of them live up to the greatness achieved in arguably the best film of the series, "INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE." That film managed to bring new characters into the series, without anything feeling forced. "KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL" plays out with one forced scene after another. While there have been many noted attempts to bring the 4th film into fruition, it's dumfounding to find that after rejecting a script by Frank Darabont, "this" is what Speilberg and Lucas thought was good enough!!! The plot revolves around a Soviet villain(Cate Blanchett), crystal skulls that are linked to aliens, Peruvian temples and more. While the plots to all Indiana Jones films served as merely a vehicle to sport great stunts, rousing action and old-fashioned "Saturday Afternoon at the movies" escapism of years long gone by, the inclusion of alien beings somehow just makes the entire film feel incredibly silly, even by "INDIANA JONES" standards.
Harrison Ford has held up well over the years, and while it seemed like a good idea to bring back his original girlfriend, Karen Allen, into the picture, she's aged much more than he has. Also, while Shia Lebouf gives another fine performance, the "surprise" exposure of his relationship to the characters, also seems forced.
For youngsters, new to the series, not having seen the original and "LAST CRUSADE," this film may serve as decent entertainment. However, those who've seen the others will arguably feel this is a great disappointment, while still infinitely better than the dreadful "TEMPLE OF DOOM" entry.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for dvd and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. The image, particularly on blu-ray, sports rich colors, for the most part. There are only a few sequences, wherein colors are surprisingly dull, but the overall image always feels slightly surreal, completely at odds with the design of the other films of the series. All of the other "INDIANA" films had a semi-gritty feel to them, without losing their epic atmosphere. But, the heavy use of CGI landscapes and effects, weakens the film-like atmosphere it needs. Contrast is great, with deep blacks and grays, and virtually every scene offers sensational depth, notably so on blu-ray. The dvd offers the same color consistency, however artifacts pop up sporadically and there are more soft spots than noticeable on the blu-ray. Both are quite good transfers, limited only by the original design of Speilberg's artificial looking landscapes in so many scenes, which the higher resolution of blu-ray, makes more noticeable.
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix for blu-ray and Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd. The soundmixes for both formats rank this release as "reference quality!" Sporting an aggressive mix, the well known John Williams score, along with ample discrete and ambient effects, and impressive bass, are all perfectly balanced with dialogue. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix of the dvd ranks up there with the best dvd soundmixes ever produced, however the benefits of the lossless mix of the blu-ray are notably better in side-to-side comparisons of the same scenes, with more pronounced bass and subtle effects possessing better clarity.
PARAMOUNT includes plenty of featurettes, a great, lengthy production diary and more on both formats, however the blu-ray offers all of these in HD!