Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The best transfer of the bunch, Crusade concluded the trilogy on a satisfying note.
Sharpness usually looked excellent. A few of the wider shots presented some slight softness, and a brief but odd blurriness affected parts of the frame during a scene with Indy, Sallah and Henry in a car late in the second act. Otherwise, though, the picture appeared nicely detailed and crisp. A few slight instances of jaggies and shimmering popped up, but these stayed minor, and the smidgen of edge enhancement also failed to create any real distractions. As for print flaws, they stayed away here as they did in the first two movies. I noticed no signs of any defects in this clean and distinctive image.
Colors looked solid. The movie didn’t present the world’s broadest palette, but it included a good enough range of hues that consistently came across as tight and vibrant. The tones never seemed overly heavy, and the film gave them good definition. Black levels seemed deep and dense, and low-light shots demonstrated fine clarity and never became too thick. I found little about which I could complain as I watched the consistently positive visual presentation of Crusade.
In addition, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade seemed even better. Both of its predecessors presented strong soundfields, but Crusade outdid the pair. The mix offered a broad and engaging experience. Music showed nice delineation and spread, and the effects created a good sense of atmosphere. A lot of directional dialogue appeared throughout the film, and those pieces popped up in a natural way. Effects seemed appropriately placed and blended together smoothly. Those elements moved cleanly across the channels to demonstrate a fine feeling of place.
Whereas both of the first two flicks offered a few small instances of split surround material, Crusade clearly upped the ante in that regard. It didn’t seem to present more active rear speakers than the others - Raiders contributed an awful lot of audio from that realm – but the elements were more naturally blended due to the stereo nature of the surrounds. These helped bring the back speakers into the flick in a more involving way, and they added a lot to the movie, especially during its many action sequences.
Audio quality appeared fine and never showed its age. Speech was distinct and concise, and I noticed no issues connected to intelligibility or edginess. Music remained vibrant and dynamic, as the DVD once again displayed John Williams’ score with vivacity and solid clarity. Effects were as clean and rich as ever, and they never suffered from any signs of distortion or other problems. Bass response was deep and firm and brought good punch to the package. The audio of Crusade wasn’t just good for its age. This was an excellent soundtrack that almost never felt like something made 19 years ago.
How did the picture and audio of this 2008 Special Edition compare with those of the original DVD from 2003? Both looked and sounded identical. Clearly the two releases resulted from the same source.
The 2008 SE includes new supplements, however. The 2003 version came as part of a four-disc package; along with the other two Indy flicks, a fourth disc of extras appeared. None of those components pops up here.
Instead, the 2008 SE mostly focuses on new featurettes. The Last Crusade: An Introduction runs six minutes, 13 seconds and offers notes from director Steven Spielberg and executive producer/story writer George Lucas. They discuss elements of the story, casting Sean Connery, characters and themes. More introspective than the prior two introductions, this one proves quite interesting.
For a look at some romantic interests, we head to the nine-minute and 23-second Indy’s Women: The American Film Institute Tribute. It includes comments from actors Karen Allen, Kate Capshaw and Alison Doody as they discuss their characters and performances. Their remarks are pretty good to hear, though I wish we got more of them than just this excerpt. I also would’ve liked more interaction among them; they sit together in a panel, so it would’ve been nice to hear them chat together about their experiences. Still, their notes are enjoyable.
After this we find Indy’s Friends and Enemies. The 10-minute and 46-second piece features Lucas, Spielberg, Raiders screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan, Temple screenwriters Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, and executive producer Frank Marshall. They discuss the series’ support characters. I like the notes, though the first half goes over Indy’s romantic interests; why not put that material in “Women” and devote more time here to the sidekicks and villains? Also, it’s too bad none of the actors appear here, as it’d be nice to hear a little from them. It’s a nice piece, though, despite these drawbacks.
Next we find Storyboards. This three-minute and 40-second reel shows drawings created for the film’s opening sequence. We see the boards in the upper two-third of the screen with a small frame to show the movie at the bottom. The comparison format works well and gives us a good look at the scene, though it doesn’t cover the whole opening; it basically just shows the parts on the train.
Under Galleries, we locate four subdomains. These cover “Illustrations and Props” (53 stills), “Production Photographs and Portraits” (123), “Effects/ILM” (52) and “Marketing” (16). Usually I like the “Marketing” stuff the best, but here the “Illustrations and Props” are the most fun, especially because we get good close-up looks at the movie’s Grail diary.
Some promotional materials for Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures arrive on the disc. In addition to a game trailer, we get a link to a PC Game Demo. I wanted to give this a try, but as I write this review, the link isn’t yet active.
The DVD opens with a trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No ad for Crusade appears here.
While Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade didn’t live up to the heights of Raiders of the Lost Ark, it definitely topped Temple of Doom, and it finished the original trilogy well. The movie boasted wonderful interaction between its lead actors and seemed quite entertaining and enjoyable. Crusade presented very positive picture, and it gave us the strongest audio of the three as well as some interesting extras. I like Crusade quite a lot and definitely recommend it.
Note than you can buy Crusade on its own or as part of a three-DVD “Indiana Jones Adventure Collection”. That set also includes Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The “Adventure Collection” retails for $59.98, which makes it a good deal if you want all three of the movies; individually, they go for $26.98 apiece.
One twist: the original 2003 Indiana Jones Collection remains on the market and now retails for $49.99. As you math majors already figured out, that’s $10 cheaper than this new set, and it also includes a bonus disc with extras absent here. Of course, this disc’s supplements don’t appear in the 2003 package, but I prefer the old release’s bonus materials to this one’s. If you only want to own Crusade, this individual DVD is the way to go, but for fans who desire all three flicks, grab the old 2003 set instead of the 2008 package.
To rate this film visit the Indiana Jones Collection review of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE