On September 18, 2012, Paramount Home Media Distribution and Lucasfilm Ltd. released Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, a five Blu-ray disc box set of the four Indiana Jones feature films produced by George Lucas and directed by Steven Spielberg. It consisted of:
- Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
Co-created by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman in the late 1970s, the Indiana Jones film series follows the adventures of archaeologist/adventurer and treasure hunter Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. as he crosses the globe in search of rare artifacts with, as Lucas describes the “MacGuffins” of the series, “a supernatural flavor.” In the tradition of the 1930s and ‘40s serials they are a tip of the Herbert Jones fedoras to, Indy is often in a race with formidable rivals and villains to obtain these rare antiquities; in Raiders and The Last Crusade, it’s the Nazis, in Temple of Doom, it’s an ancient Thugee cult, and in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it’s the Cold War Soviets of the 1950s.
The “secret sauce” to the franchise’s success is its protagonist, “the Man in the Hat.” Harrison Ford’s iconic character is the kind of movie hero who is as fast with a sardonic quip as he is with a revolver or a bullwhip, stands up for the underdog – or, as in Temple of Doom, abducted children – and always gets the girl, unless the girl gets him first. Unlike James Bond, who is one of the templates from which Indy was “molded,” Indy is more relatable because his derring-do moves don’t always go flawlessly, and he has human foibles, such as his fear of snakes and the oft-stormy relationship with his father, Prof. Henry Jones, Sr.
The Indiana Jones films have been released on various formats, including videotape and DVD, since the 1980s, and they made their Blu-ray debut in September 2012, one year after Lucasfilm and its other distribution partner, the former 20th Century Fox, released the first six Star Wars films in a nine-disc box set (Star Wars: The Complete Saga).
The Box Set
From the award-winning duo of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, experience every heart-pounding thrill like never before with Indiana Jones®: The Complete Adventures on Blu-ray! All four unforgettable films are offered together on Blu-ray, featuring brilliant high definition quality and 5.1 audio presentation. This five-disc collection boasts fully color corrected digital master version of The Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade, and the highly anticipated frame-by-frame restoration of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Dive into the adventures and spectacular action of the Academy Award®- winning Indiana Jones series with hours of special features including content created exclusively for this release. Only one name defines the ultimate hero…only one format delivers the ultimate experience! – Paramount Home Media Distribution/Lucasfilm Promotional Insert blurb
I’ve been a fan of “the Man in the Hat” since Raiders was released in June of 1981, and even though I already own the four films of the series and the three Adventures of Young Indiana Jones DVD box sets, I pre-ordered The Complete Adventures Blu-ray set in April of 2012. The box set arrived at my Miami house three days after its release.
Since then, I have watched the four films, from Raiders to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, several times, mostly in Miami, where I lived until the spring of 2016, but also in my new hometown in another part of the Sunshine State. Most of those viewings were on a mid-range (720p) Samsung high definition set, so I didn’t get to enjoy all the “bells and whistles” of a high-end set and a home theater 5.1 sound system. As a result, for at least the first few years that I owned Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, I didn’t get the best video or audio performance from my Blu-rays.
On the “big TV” in the family room, which does have a 1080p HDTV and a 5.1 home theater audio system, the four films – Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – look and sound fabulous. I have not yet – inexplicably – tried them on my 4K UHD TV/Blu-ray player, but on a “regular” Blu-ray/1080p TV, the movies have never looked this good outside a legitimate big screen cinema.
I have seen some fans comment on social media about how “bad’ or poorly remastered the Indiana Jones 2012 Blu-rays are. Some claim that one of the films looks like a yellow tint was added or that the removal of “grain” from the video makes the end result look “smeared” or otherwise not as good as they remember from the theatrical release versions.
I’m no expert on audio visual tech, so I’ll just cite Blu-ray.com reviewer Martin Liebman’s critique of the box set from September 15, 2012:
Paramount’s long-awaited Blu-ray release of all four Indiana Jones films never disappoints. The movies all look and sound fantastic, all of them like they were made yesterday. The supplements are extensive but maybe not quite as thorough as some might have hoped — there are no commentary tracks and not all of the extras from the previous Blu-ray release of The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull carry over — but it’s an impressive assortment that will take fans the better part of a day to dig through. This is one of the year’s finest releases and a must-own set if ever there was one. Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures receives my highest recommendation.
Here are some of my own observations about the box set and the various extras. I won’t discuss the films themselves here; I plan to review each one for A Certain Point of View, Too in the future, but I will say this: as much as I like the existing quartet, including the much maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Raiders of the Lost Ark is my favorite film.
As for the box set and the extras?
- The packaging resembles that of the 2011 Star Wars: The Complete Saga in its basic design: each Blu-ray is stored in a sleeve-like page of a package which resembles a small hardcover book. The “book” fits into a sturdy cardboard slipcover; both feature a Drew Struzan illustration done in the style of the late Richard Amsel, the artist who created the original poster for Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981.
- The four Blu-ray discs which contain the features don’t offer too many extras. Unlike Star Wars: The Complete Saga, the Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures set doesn’t have any audio commentary tracks (Spielberg never does audio commentaries on any DVD or Blu-ray of his filmography). They do, however, have the trailers for each of the four films, a feature not included in the Star Wars Blu-ray sets.
- Though most of the extra features on the bonus disc are “holdovers” from the series’ previous DVD releases (2003 and 2008), viewers will see an all-new documentary titled On Set – Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as The Making of Raiders of the Lost Ark, a 1981 “making of” featurette which was not released in the DVD format.
Obviously, now that Lucasfilm is making a fifth Indiana Jones film with James Mangold directing and starring Harrison Ford for what is likely the last time, this box set isn’t the definitive collection, and with rumors that we are going to get a new 4K UHD box set in this 40th Anniversary year, this is probably not going to be the crème de la crème forever as far as Indy-related home media releases go.
But until that happy day comes along, Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures is still a film buff’s treasure worth seeking.
Just don’t forget your fedora. And pack a bullwhip in case you run into trouble like Indiana Jones.
 The retronym “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” was first used by Lucasfilm in the 1990s for the marketing for VHS box sets of what was then the Indiana Jones Trilogy and was only used in the packaging and promotional materials. Lucasfilm has never changed the title in the movie itself.
 It’s now 20th Century Films, and, like Lucasfilm, a studio owned by The Walt Disney Company.
 Amazon did not have its own delivery service nine years ago, and I don’t think it had a Miami-area warehouse until 2014 or 2015 (which is when customers had to start paying Florida sales taxes on Amazon orders), so even though the box set was released on a Tuesday, it took three days to get from a warehouse in Kentucky to Florida.