Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Love or hate this movie, if you are considering buying it at all, make sure you splurge for the 2-Disc Special Edition. The lack of extras and commentary on the first one will only make you more annoyed (if you're only buying it because you own the others and can't not have the complete set) or disappointed (if you enjoyed the movie and want more). Personally, and I know I'm in the minority here, I really enjoyed this film. Sure it's totally preposterous and the "nuke the fridge" thing was over the top, but I still thought it was fun, and I enjoyed revisiting the characters. But I'm not here to debate the relative merits (or lack thereof) of this film compared to the original trilogy, I'm here to talk about the extras, and the 2-Disc set has plenty to offer.

Like I mentioned before, there is no commentary track. I would have appreciated one, but they made it up to me in other ways. "The Return of the Legend" feature is a good start. It mostly focuses on Spielberg reflecting on how this film came about. Basically, Harrison Ford was very persuasive and made it happen, and you haters can put the alien or "interdimensional being" blame squarely on George Lucas' shoulders. The rest of the cast and various crew members talk about how they became involved. The Pre-Production feature that's also tucked in on the first disc talks a lot about the logistics of casting, recreating the costumes, finding just the right hat, etc. Nothing super-groundbreaking, but I did find it interesting to watch.

Disc 2 is where it starts to get good and they redeem themselves for the lack of a commentary. "The Production Diary: Making Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" is pretty much worth the price of the special edition. It's a behind-the-scenes look at the film that has interviews with the cast and really gets into the nitty-gritty of making this film, which, considering how detailed and lengthy this segment is, was probably more informative than a gabby commentary where Spielberg, Lucas and Ford would have been like, "Hey, did you know that kid in the library was Tom Hanks' son?" "Why yes, I did know that." "Do you think the stunt coordinator was nervous about that?" "Gee, that's a good question." Instead, we get to see how they actually made the scene in the library and learn from the stunt coordinator himself in the midst of shooting what it was like nearly crashing a motorcycle into Tom Hanks' kid (not Colin, the other one). And I learned an awful lot about motorcycles.

The rest is interesting, but it mostly depends on where your interests lie. There's a segment on how they created the makeup look for the warriors (it involves a lot of glue), how they created the Crystal Skulls (I'm sure this was fascinating to some, but I was bored) and how they did the props, like the swords and whips and whatnot. There's a whole segment on the sound guy (or Foley artist or whatever the proper term for them is), who made the neat ant crawling noises with animal feed and a blend of other sounds. (It's a creepy noise, even without the visuals.) There's "The Effects of Indy," which should really be called ILM Magic, where they detail the painstaking process of taking the filmed footage and going over and over it to age it, add bullets, depth of field and the like. Those guys are just insane. And then you have the Pre-Visualization Sequences, which are the computer graphic preps for some of the very action-heavy scenes. They're pretty detailed and look a lot like a video game. It's pretty impressive.

Then there is the most pointless extra of all time (unless you are the parent or relative of someone who worked on this movie). It's called "Closing: Team Indy" and starts out with Spielberg giving an "it takes a village" sort of speech about all the people that contribute to getting one of these films made and then essentially devolves into credits for the film that basically show off what everyone does.

The rest is galleries and trailers and a demo of Lego: Indiana Jones (which you can play on your xBox 360). I know this isn't a video game review column, but that game is one of my favorites. It's got Indy (in Lego form) acting out all three of the original movies, and when you get near snakes, he shudders and hides. It is the most adorable thing, plus you can use your whip to grab Marion or any of the other ladies around and pull them into a liplock. It's good stuff. So is the DVD. And while I liked the movie in theaters, I liked it even more the second time around (admittedly, I checked my brain at the door before turning it on), and here's hoping you will, too.

Check your brain, and buy it now!




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