Remember when archeology professor Indiana Jones first unfurled his whip and unleashed his inner grit? It was 27 years ago. In Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana (Harrison Ford) battled a bunch of evil Nazis hell bent to find the holy Ark of the Covenant.
In the fourth installment of the series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the senior Ford is still sprinting and scuffling with scoundrels, this time miraculously keeping up with a very junior sidekick, Shia LeBeouf.
Like the three earlier odysseys, we know who prevails. But when Indiana travels, getting there is all the fun. Here Russian scamps under Red leader Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) hunt and hound our heroes. It's a hot time in the Cold War.
The good guys race and chase the bad guys to save the world from the powers of a crazed carved quartz and the cantankerous Commies. In an archeologically mixed-up world of Mayan temples set in an Incan Amazon, they encounter everything from man-eating ants to manic aliens. No kidding.
Mussied and gussied with go-get-'em effects, this latest saga is all action and few words. The hero is an ultra bustling boy, volleying with villains for possession of this ancient-yet-extraterrestrial skull.
As you might imagine, Indy's way too busy to bond. Neither with the young Mutt, (LeBoeuf), nor with old flame Marion Ravenwood (a reprisal from Karen Allen). While not a story with much heart or heat, Harrison Ford still emits molten charisma through his crevassed face and crooked grin.
Another tip of your fedora to ya, Mr. Ford.
If you never saw any of the four films - or maybe you did - the British movie magazine Empire has news for you: it just released its latest list of the "top movie characters of all time." Ford's Jones continues tiptop the Top List. He beat the whole Star Wars squad, Captain Sparrow, Hannibal Lector and every last James Bond.
So this Blu-ray 2-Disc Special Edition Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull plus the three DVD Indiana Jones - The Adventure Collection box set are a safe bet for a sublime holiday gift, good enough even for the spoiled kid who needs nothing or the difficult Dad who has everything. Or me and you.
The Special Features resemble a festive 27th year reunion combined with a Hollywood job fair. If you have two more hours to indulge, you will meet a Who's Who of Hollywood and learn more than you need to know about making an adventure film - unless you aspire to follow Steven's footsteps.
With an assemblage of cinematic masters, from Ford to Spielberg, George Lucas, John Williams (music), Stan Winston (animatronics), Michael Kahn (editing) and a creative crew from ILM, these vignettes present a show and tell of Making Blockbusters 101.)
Opening with a curious anachronism - only because you actually have to read it! - a timeline of the plot fills in the historic facts from the 50's, a useful segment for viewers too young to know the Duck and Cover chapter of our history.
Then it's back to de rigueur interviews and craft demos from the inestimable talent drawn to the project, from actors to animators, editors, animal handlers, sound men, stunt men, sculptors, painters, musicians, make-up artists, costumes designers, cameramen and soundmen. (Even a few skilled ladies slip onto the screen.)
Mind-blowing mechanical sets suggest that our best contemporary inventors and engineers may be hiding in Hollywood. Except for finding funding or formatting a script, the Extras cover just about everything.
How Spielberg synchronizes filming the actual movie with the simultaneous shooting of making-the-movie still remains an astonishing mystery, but the labyrinth is all there for you to decipher.
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett, Karen Allen, Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent
Length: 122 minutes
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2:35:1
Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English SDH, French, Spanish