Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull arrives in theaters shortly, which means that Lucasfilm and Paramount are back at it releasing everything Indy in anticipation. With re-release DVDs of the original three Indiana Jones movies coming soon, April 29th brings The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Three: The Years of Change to DVD in a massive box set in vein with Volume One and Volume Two.
Like the previous two box sets, Volume 3 is packed with special features, movies and so on and so forth. George Lucas and the crew spared no expense making these box sets, even going as far as to re-edit the original television show, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, into feature-length films. Whether that’s a good thing, maybe not.
This final box set comes with 10 discs, seven Indiana Jones movies and, according to the box, over 15 hours of special features and over two dozen documentaries. Needless to say, I don’t have the time and willpower to watch everything before writing this review.
A fan of the show growing up, I always enjoyed the the stories involving teenage Indy (played by Sean Patrick Flannery) a lot more, for obvious reasons. The stories are more adventure-filled, a lot less sappy and generally more interesting. While the original TV show mixed together the stories of super-young Indy and teenage Indy on, generally, an episode-by-episode basis and earmarked those episodes to shots of a really old Indiana Jones, these box sets have recut the episodes, made them more chronological and removed the old Indy altogether. The result is several feature-length movies that, while able to focus a lot more on a specific plot line, aren’t nearly as cohesive as they should be.
To make hour-and-a-half-long movies, Lucas had to splice and dice two or three stories together to make one, and the result is often a meandering one. Take Tales of Innocence, for example (coincidentally the first movie I watched on this box set). The first half is about Indy trying to identify a traitor in his crew during World War I and his ultimately tragic love affair with a local woman. It’s pretty exciting and entertaining, aside from a few slow minutes. Then, suddenly, the story switches gear and Indy and several new characters travel to investigate the disappearance of a group of soldiers, only to find that one of the missing commanders has somehow turned into Lord Dracula. This story is fine, too – and also plays into the mystical element that is found in all of the theatrical releases more so than most of the World War I plots – but is clearly not a part of the same movie.
To save time, money and effort, and to appease fans, I would have just left the episodes as they originally were, but we’re stuck with these feature-length re-edits which are good enough. A lot of people had probably forgot that there were dozens of additional hours of Indiana Jones goodness available, and it’s nice to see this high quality show get some renewed attention.
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume III: The Years of Change is available to own on April 29th. Did I already say that?