As the fifth and final Indiana Jones film gears up for theaters in 2023, Paramount asks fans to blow the previously released 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook set back to God by issuing new and far more attractive solo SteelBooks featuring the original theatrical poster artwork. Kicking things off is Raiders of the Lost Ark with a slick black SteelBook case with the original Richard Amsel artwork. The disc is identical to the previous release offering the same exceptional Dolby Vision / Dolby Atmos transfer and unfortunate lack of bonus features. If you held off buying the Indiana Jones collections or you'd rather trade in your old SteelBook set, this is the best and most attractive way to add Raiders to your collection. Highly Recommended
[Excerpt from our 2021 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review by M. Enois Duarte]
"After leaving his mark in the world of horror with Jaws and elevating B-quality sci-fi to that of awarding-winning drama while pushing visual effects wizardry in Close Encounters, Steven Spielberg forged ahead to breathe new life in yet another movie genre with Raiders of the Lost Ark. Partnering with writer and producer George Lucas, the legendary filmmaker cooked up the perfect recipe for the action-adventure film. The first feature in the Indiana Jones saga is also where Spielberg began really demonstrating his unique style and distinct spirited tone that eventually grew into its own definition — the Spielbergian. From the opening moments of the Paramount logo seamlessly fading into a wide establishing shot of a South American mountain peak, we become witness to the imaginative creativity of a true virtuoso, a genuine filmmaker in complete control of the camera.
Within a matter of minutes, we learn a great deal about Harrison Ford's most celebrated character and of the plot's major conflict involving the thieving Belloq (Paul Freeman). As he navigates through an ancient temple of booby traps, the fedora-wearing, bullwhip-snapping Indiana Jones shows that he is as intelligent, cunning and resourceful as he is fallible and culpable, which only makes him all the more endearing. And by the end of the first act, we also learn the filmmakers are aiming for a tonally darker tale than their previous efforts as they introduce Hitler's interest in mysticism and the occult while the Nazis search for the Ark of the Covenant. Yet, Spielberg amazingly keeps things optimistically carefree and riveting as he pays homage to the pulp B-movies of his youth, not only for the sake of nostalgia for that bygone era but also to reintroduce the joy of cinema with a kind of child-like awe."
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray SteelBook
Raiders of the Lost Ark rides onto 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray once again with a new solo SteelBook release from Paramount. Included is the exact same 4K UHD disc previously released only this time it comes housed in a new and far more interesting and attractive SteelBook. The front of the SteelBook now features the original Richard Amsel artwork. Also included is a Digital Copy slip that is not Movies Anywhere compatible.
"Reportedly coming from a fresh 4K remasters of the original camera negatives, which were approved by Steven Speilberg, the beloved classic swings into Ultra HD territory with a winning and spectacular HEVC H.265 encode. Awash in a thin, consistent layer of natural grain throughout, the 2.35:1 image arrives with sharper, cleaner lines and textures in the stitching of costumes, overall stage production and facial complexions, exposing the smallest blemish in the cast. A few sequences are understandably softer with a small dip in resolution quality, but that's mostly due to film stock, photography and the visual effects of that time. Otherwise, the native 4K transfer is highly detailed, and the elements appear to be in excellent condition, showing true, inky blacks with strong gradational differences in the various shades and in the darkest corners of the frame.
The Dolby Vision HDR presentation also comes with a vividly bright contrast balance, showing clean, brilliant whites and making many of the exterior sequences really pop. The most noteworthy improvement is the radiant specular highlights supplying a crisp brilliance to the gold objects and a tighter glow in the hottest spots, allowing for superb visibility in the light fixtures while plumes of fire lap the air with better clarity and realism. Likewise, the color palette displays fuller, sumptuous primaries with the reds of the swastika flags in the second half being more accurately rendered and spirited while greens show a better range between the darker junipers shades and the lively shamrock tones in the surrounding foliage. Best of all, the video enjoys a wider, richer array of secondary hues, showering the action in eye-catching variations of mocha browns, sepia tans, buttery yellows and fiery oranges. All in all, this is a magnificent presentation with a lovely cinematic appeal."
As with the video, the Dolby Atmos soundtracks also come from fresh remasters of the original elements, which were supervised by the film's sound designer Ben Burtt. The results are not only excellent but also a notable upgrade from their DTS-HD counterparts although it still remains a very front-heavy presentation, as it should be.
Still, the soundstage feels impressively broad and expansive with outstanding warmth and fluid channel separation, as background activity litters much of the visuals and convincingly bounces across the screen. Atmospherics are occasionally employed in the surrounds and top heights, effectively broadening the soundscape with appreciable envelopment and room-penetrating directionality. A surprisingly extensive mid-range exhibits well-defined acoustical details and superb clarity during the loudest segments, delivering lots of discrete off-screen sounds. Williams' iconic score meanwhile enjoys distinct instrumentation that subtly bleeds into the rears and overheads to create a satisfyingly immersive soundfield. The low-end is deep and appropriate for a thirty-year-old track, and the vocals are precise and plain in the center although a few loud action sequences tend to drown out certain bits of dialogue in some spots.
Sadly - without that extra bonus features disc included from the previous sets, you're only getting trailers here. Now, wouldn't it be funny if Paramount put that bonus features disc in the new SteelBook of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull like the last set? That'll really piss people off who were trying to avoid buying that one!
Raiders of the Ark is quite simply one of the greatest movies ever made and a major career highlight for everyone involved from Steven Spielberg to Harrison Ford to George Lucas. As we await the fifth and final film in the franchise, Paramount decided to jump back into the Well of Souls and reissue the original films on 4K UltraHD Blu-ray with new solo SteelBooks. For some, this is too late to justify buying again, but if you hated the previous Best Buy SteelBook collection artwork, you now get the original Richard Amsel poster art and you don't have to contend with a flimsy paper box to hold the set together. If you haven't bought the films on 4K yet or just really need to upgrade your SteelBook collection, the film looks and sounds great in Dolby Vision / Dolby Atmos and this artwork is a welcome improvement. Highly Recommended.