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Paramount Home Video presents

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark: Special Edition (1981)

Sallah: Indy, you have no time. If you still want the ark, it is being loaded onto a truck for Cairo.
Indiana: Truck? What truck?- John Rhys-Davies, Harrison Ford

Stars: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman, Ronald Lacey, John Rhys-Davies
Other Stars: Denholm Elliott, Alfred Molina, Wolf Kahler, Anthony Higgins, Vic Tablian, Don Fellows, William Hootkins, Bill Reimbold
Director: Steven Spielberg

MPAA Rating: PG for violence, language, some sexual situations
Run Time: 01h:55m:10s
Release Date: 2008-05-13
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A AA-A- C+


DVD Review

The following is Brian Calhoun’s original review of a prior DVD release:

I was eight years old when Raiders of the Lost Ark first hit the big screen. I can vividly remember visiting my local theater innumerable times to witness this epic action adventure again and again. Twenty-two years have now passed, and while my excitement over the film has waned, my appreciation remains high. While it is impossible for me to state how I might regard Raiders had I seen it for the first time in my adulthood, I always seem to feel a giddy, child-like sense of nostalgia when I watch this undeniable classic.

Conceived by Star Wars creator George Lucas and directed by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg, Raiders is a glorious ode to the pulpy Saturday matinee serials of yesteryear. Harrison Ford stars as Indiana Jones, the role I believe he was born to play. Through his sardonic wit and energy, Ford brings a charismatic charm to the gun-toting, bullwhip-cracking archaeologist that no other actor could touch. I am sure that by now the plot is familiar to most everyone, which finds Jones seeking the lost Ark of the Covenant, believed to hold the sacred Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses. Hitler and the Nazis are also searching for the ark, since "An army which carries the ark before it is invincible." Jones' quest leads him from South America, to Nepal, to Egypt, and finds him stumbling into grave danger.

Though this is an excellent story, it is little more than an excuse to drive the film from one action extravaganza to the next. On his journey, Indiana Jones braves deadly booby traps, giant spiders, poison darts, sword-wielding Arabs, Nazis, snakes, the wrath of God, and his feisty ex-girlfriend Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen). He is shot at, stabbed at, beaten to a bloody pulp, and thrown out of moving vehicles. The whole ordeal is as exhausting for moviegoers as it is for Jones. All of this mayhem is like a live-action cartoon for grownups, proving relentlessly violent yet just absurd enough so as not to be deemed offensive. It would all be incredibly laughable in most films, but Steven Spielberg has magically crafted a picture that works best when it is at its extreme. "More is more" was Spielberg's theory, and he gleefully set out to prove it.

Seeing Raiders again for the umpteenth time, I was reminded of the timeless allure of the film. I still continue to admire how well the action suits the story, and vice versa. Raiders of the Lost Ark is not a particularly deep film, nor is it a particularly profound film. Yet, it possesses all of the necessary qualities to provide enriching motion picture entertainment. There are times when I want to be mentally stimulated by my entertainment, and there are times when I want to shut off my mind, relax, and let my entertainment dictate my mental state. Raiders of the Lost Ark triumphs in the latter. It has always proven to me to be a dependable two hours of cinema escapism.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Raiders of the Lost Ark includes a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that effectively presents Indy's thrill-packed adventure. The sharpness could have been slightly improved, particularly in the outdoor scenes, but the overall quality is excellent. It's much better than the version you've been seeing everywhere on television lately.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: This release provides a high-power, 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer that keeps John Williams' score blaring throughout the presentation. It's actually too loud at times and could have been softened to avoid some deafening moments. However, it's hard to complain too much about such an energetic audio track. In similar fashion to the image transfer, it could have used more complexity, but should not disappoint.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 31 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
3 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Box Set
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Galleries
  2. Lego Indiana Jones Trailer
Extras Review: Released as part of the new Adventure Collection to capitalize on the fourth film, this "Special Edition" contains three new featurettes. However, the result is pretty underwhelming and not worth it if you purchased the 2003 release. The eight-minute Raiders of the Lost Ark: An Introduction offers comments from Spielberg and Lucas about the story's inspirations. We view some old footage showing the duo looking really dorky, and they give some worthy insights. Spielberg describing his desire to hit the budget and schedule is one of the highlights. Indiana Jones: An Appreciation includes comments from the cast of the 4th film about their enjoyment of the trilogy. This 11-minute piece is promotional and not very interesting, especially because it gives little insight into the film. Finally, The Melting Face! presents an up-close look at the making of this unique, grisly sequence. Chris Walas, special make-up effects, uses new footage to reveal his tactic to achieve the memorable effect.

The remaining supplements include photo galleries separated into Illustrations and Props, Production Photographs and Portraits, Effects/ILM, and Marketing; plus a preview of the Lego Indiana Jones video game. All the extras only last about a half-hour, which is saddening for such a beloved movie. The features are mildly entertaining, but don't have enough material to warrant this new set.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

I have mixed feelings about this "Adventure Collection" edition of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don't own the 2003 boxed set, so it's enjoyable to have this one-of-a-kind adventure film as part of my home library. However, since it offers limited extras and is missing the excellent documentary Making the Trilogy, this set feels thrown together. I can't complain about the film presentation, but hoped for a lot more from the extras.

Dan Heaton 2008-05-29