Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

After waiting 19 years for the next "Indiana Jones" release, many fans were disappointed with the franchise's fourth (but likely not final) installment. The new two-disc DVD set, although excellent in technical respects, does little to win back dissatisfied patrons.

With:
Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen

After waiting 19 years for the next “Indiana Jones” release, many fans were disappointed with the franchise’s fourth (but likely not final) installment. The new two-disc DVD set, although excellent in technical respects, does little to win back dissatisfied patrons. This is the first “Indy” pic made in the DVD age and unlike George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels, which are stuffed with great extras, the “Crystal” DVD package is far less rewarding.

Behind-the-scenes featurette “The Return of the Legend” supplies the requisite chills — mostly brought on by clips from the first three films — and reminds anyone who’s been living under a giant boulder for the last year that Indy is indeed back, and that should be reason enough for excitement. Sadly, there isn’t much more that the featurette has to say.

Also included is an intermittently interesting 12-part production diary. In various stages of development for years (it would’ve been great to hear from 86’d screenwriter Frank Darabont on the pic’s evolution), “Crystal” appears to have been pushed into production quickly, and allowed the principle players — producer Lucas, director Steven Spielberg and star Harrison Ford — to work together for the first time since 1989 with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”

In one featurette, Lucas reveals that the film’s original idea revolved around space aliens. When Spielberg balked, citing his previous extraterrestrial experiences on “Close Encounters of the Third King” and “E.T.” and not wanting to repeat himself, Lucas arbitrarily changed them to “interdimensional beings” that employ a flying saucer and look nearly identical to the creatures in “Close Encounters.”

Ford, now 66 but full of vigor, seems to the most amped to revive the series and returns to the role with gusto. It’s also nice to see “Raiders of the Lost Ark” co-star Karen Allen discuss the thrill of returning to the Indy mythos, while newcomers Shia LaBeouf and Cate Blanchett fit right in with the gang.

Some nifty (and unusually detailed) computer graphic “pre-visualizations,” which acted as moving storyboards for the filmmakers, are almost as entertaining as the finished sequences themselves. It’s as close as they’ve come to making an Indiana Jones cartoon (not a bad idea actually).

One of the discs’ highlights is a home video-like roundup of some of the below-the-line folks who worked on the film, from regular Spielberg cinematographer Janusz Kaminski to costumer Mary Zophres.

As is the case with every Lucasfilm homevid release, the picture and sound are exemplary.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Production: Paramount Home Video

Cast: Cast: Harrison Ford, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen

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