Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark 4k Blu-ray Review

Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection 4k Blu-ray angle
Title: Indiana Jones 4-Movie Collection
Format: 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Price: $89.99 Buy on Amazon

40 years after the theatrical premiere of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Paramount has restored and remastered the existing four Indiana Jones franchise movies for release on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The films come in a 5-disc set (with one bonus disc) that includes Digital Copies, a fold-out poster, and “collectible packaging.” The boxed set also sells in Limited Edition SteelBook version that is priced about $10 more at Best Buy.

Here is a review of the debut film in the franchise that catapulted the movie hero Indiana Jones into film history.

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Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

The Movie

A movie that no doubt inspired many fans to go into the study of archaeology and antiquities or pursue an adventurous career that requires a .45 caliber Smith and Wesson and bullwhip, Raiders of the Lost Ark (now titled Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark) was a box office smash and 5x Oscar-winner. The film projected Harrison Ford into stardom (after being hailed for his supporting role in two Star Wars films) and continued the rise of Steven Spielberg as one of the eminent Hollywood producers and directors.

The movie also furthered the ambitions of George Lucas who wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark and whose company Lucasfilm Ltd. produced the movie. In addition, composer John Williams wrote the memorable score for ‘Raiders’ after having worked with Spielberg on Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind and with Lucas on the Star Wars franchise. With those three guys working on ‘Raiders’ how could you go wrong?

Raiders of the Lost Ark won Oscars for Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Effects, Visual Effects, and Best Sound Effects, Editing. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Music, Original Score. The film is ranked No. 60 in AFI’s Greatest American Movies of All Time.

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Video

‘Raiders’ was restored from the original negatives (overseen by Steven Spielberg) and remastered with a new 4k digital intermediate for Ultra HD Blu-ray. The movie is presented in 2160p (4k) with Dolby Vision and HDR10 providing an expanded color range. The 4k HDR video bit rate ranged between 50 and 60Mbps with peaks into the low 80s.

From the film’s opening scene in a Peruvian jungle (actually shot in Hawaii) where Indy steals a golden idol, ‘Raiders’ looks just like I remember having seen it in the theaters 40 years ago in projected format from 35mm film. The colors are robust, black levels thick but not crunched, and sharp where it needs to be sharp.

For this 4k presentation some of the visual effects were brought up to contemporary standards, so this movie looks as good as it can possibly look on a 4k UHD TV.

The color is not overly saturated, thankfully, as sometimes HDR can be used excessively. Rather, the Dolby Vision and HDR10 (although we wish HDR10+ had been used), adds just enough to let you know there is expanded color depth.

Where HDR seems to add to this film is in the dark shadow and highlight areas where the bit depth reveals more than what has been seen before on Blu-ray and certainly in 720p/1080i on TV broadcasts. Take for instance the scene in the tomb at about 1:04:00 where Indy finds the ark but is surrounded by snakes. There are details in the shadows that, like the ark, haven’t been uncovered for years.

Another nice HDR moment is at approximately 1:05 when Indy and the digging team discover the opening to the temple where the ark has been kept. This scene has lightning strikes and thunder clouds that render with excellent color range through HDR. And, when Indy and Sallah lift the ark there are blue flashes from the lightning that contrast the bold color of the ark.

Be careful with HDR though. As we learned with this title and others the colors can be thrown off immensely. If the colors just seem ridiculous like the TV shots below there is probably something wrong with your setup. HDR should enhance color and contrast to be more realistic, not unrealistic.

Do yourself a favor and make sure your TV is set to movie mode instead of Dynamic or Sports, otherwise the colors may be too exaggerated. It would seem most directors would like their films shown in as realistic colors as possible.

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Audio

The award-winning sound and sound effects are even more evident on this 4k Blu-ray presentation with Dolby Atmos / Dolby TrueHD 7.1 surround sound providing an immersive experience. Previous Blu-ray editions featured DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, so the new soundtrack is certainly an upgrade for home theaters with more than five speakers and especially Atmos playback.

The English.Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel audio (that converts to Dolby Atmos systems when available) streamed at around 3.5Mbps. The deep horns from John Williams’ music composition sound exceptionally well on a subwoofer.

There are some audio moments to wait for or listen back to. The arrows shot out of a skull at 6:50 when Indy is crossing the stone floor trap to get to the golden idol is a really nice sound effect that moves spatially through speakers, as is the rolling of the giant boulder that threatens to flatten Indy before he escapes.

Summary

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is a must-own for home theater buffs. This movie is true to the action drama and the 4k HDR Atmos presentation makes it even more like reliving the experience in theaters. However, even without the HDR and Atmos qualities the 2160p resolution provides a great viewing experience and 7-channel audio slightly more immersive. The details in the antiquites Indy comes across, the scenery in Cairo, and overall quality of the picture is really worth the 4k upgrade.

Scores

Movie
5/5

Video
5/5

Audio
4/5

Bonus Material
NA (nothing new)

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