For what will (probably) be the last installment in the Indiana Jones saga, co-creator George Lucas, director Steven Spielberg, and thousands of their closest friends have made a popcorn-munching spectacle of a movie. But Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a problematic piece of film-making, because it forgoes the legitimate suspense and emotional payoffs of the 1980s trilogy - not a great artistic choice for a movie set smack in the early chills of the Cold War. And the cartoon violence so completely ignores the laws of physics that it's almost embarrassing, even for this genre.
What you do get in this two-disc Special Edition on Blu-ray is an example of what some of the best technicians in Hollywood can do with an unlimited budget. The picture boasts a wide, vibrant color palette, with no blooming or artifacts in the many fast-moving, CGI-infused scenes. Grays and blacks are also exceptionally well reproduced; just check out the individual strands of Cate Blanchett's jet-black wig as juxtaposed against her oh-so-white complexion.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack is lively and crisp, and it's chock-full of effects that move seamlessly from the front to the sides and rear. The familiar-sounding John Williams score has plenty of dynamics and swells in all the right places. Like the film itself, however, the music is technically beautiful but comes across as more recycled than inspired.
Given the unsatisfying nature of this movie, the exceedingly generous extras (a disc-and-a-half of 'em) seem a little incongruous. But Indy completists will be thrilled, and Blu-ray fans will appreciate that nearly all of the extras are in high-def. Highlights include an 80-minute Production Diary, nine separate making-of featurettes (covering preproduction, postproduction, and everything in between), and a great collection of stills (albeit in standard-def).
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