Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures

Cinema's original tomb raider has been unearthed and polished up for a new hi-def boxset

One of the best-loved blockbuster franchises of recent times, the Indiana Jones movies have an appeal that reaches beyond the sci-fi geekery of Star Wars and fantasy nerdiness of The Lord of the Rings.

Given the chance to revisit the series of Blu-ray, it's a pleasure to see how well it holds up. Raiders of the Lost Ark remains the best Hollywood blockbuster of the '80s (if not, arguably, the best ever), while Temple of Doom and The Last Crusade make for acceptable sequels. But what of the belated Kingdom of the Crystal Skull? Well, maybe it's because of lowered expectations, but this second viewing revealed it as a film that really does feel like part of the same series. It's still not a very good one. But nor is it quite as bad as I originally thought.

Picture: It's not exactly a massive shock to learn that …Raiders of the Lost Ark was the one that needed the most amount of work doing to prepare it for this outing. The new 4K restoration has given us an AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode that shows off the strengths and limitations of the film's photography, while also introducing a few anomalies of its own.

The obvious strengths include the intricate details on show and the true black levels, as well as the significant reduction in print damage over previous versions (although some minor speckles can still be found). However, the lack of sharpness inherent in the original negative has resulted in a slightly soft look to several sequences that does detract from the image slightly (especially as Blu-ray's 1080p resolution draws attention to the shift in clarity to a much greater extent that DVD ever could) and there are also clear signs of grain management in some effects shots.

More intriguing is the decision to push the colours towards a more golden hue. While this may be an attempt to make the palette align closer to that of the recent Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, it has resulted in some issues - not least of which is the Nazi flags now looking more orange than red.

Temple of Doom hasn't been subjected to the same kind of colour manipulation, arriving with a strong AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode that undoubtedly comes very close to replicating the original theatrical look of the movie. Colour and detailing are particularly striking, especially when the action shifts to the red-hued interior of the Thuggee lair. There is evidence of grain filtering in places, but on the whole it's pretty damn good.

For the most part, The Last Crusade's AVC 2.40:1 1080p imagery is a little more problematic. At times the imagery soars above that of its two predecessors, thanks to some astonishing detailing and clarity (which does have the downside of drawing attention to the appalling matte effects the film has always been saddled with). However, close inspection also reveals the tell-tale signs of edge enhancement in some scenes and the presence of occasional aliasing effect resulting in clear jaggies on vertical lines elsewhere. That said, these flaws are only really evident on the biggest screens, and will hardly prove ruinous to your enjoyment of the film.

Which brings us to Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. As you might expect from a film made in 2008, which has already had a standalone Blu-ray release, the AVC 2.40:1 1080p transfer is absolutely first rate.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: All four films in the set feature DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtracks and – despite the varying vintages of the films themselves – all four sound absolutely brilliant.

There are naturally some limitations on what could be done with the source materials for the older films, but even so these surround mixes sound very authentic and sympathetic to the original audio design. Particularly pleasing are the sheer range and depth of the remixes, although dynamic use of the surrounds also prove satisfying and not forced.

Once again, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull scores highest in this regard, with an exemplary lossless 5.1 track that makes the most of modern sound design technologies and is packed full of consistent and aggressive surround effects.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: A selection of trailers for the relevant movie appears on each of the movie discs. The remaining extras are all saved for a dedicated bonus disc. Here you'll find a host of archival treats in the form of five Making of… documentaries (including a 58-min vintage supplement from 1981) and 12 behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring different aspects of the series from stunts, sound design and music, to locations and even a tribute to 'Indy's Women'.

However, the real highlight of the set is the two-part On Set with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Running just shy of an hour, this sensational extra charts the making of the film in chronological order, through archival interviews and rare on-set footage. Along the way, it also finds time to include numerous outtakes, bloopers and even deleted scenes. It's just a pity that the sequels don't get anything quite as comprehensive.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: Despite some minor quibbles, this is a strong hi-def showing for the Indy series

Paramount, All-region BD, £60 Approx, On sale now