Dr. Jones and the Skull Kingdom Mystery

 
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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Enjoyment 
 
9.0

January 17, 2011

**** POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD ****

I was surprised to see that this edit appeared. I had somehow missed the thread in the Forum for this FE. As such, I did not read any information, the cut list or Wraith’s intention for the edit: I went into this edit “blind”. In other words, I had no expectations and no knowledge of what I was going to see.

I have only watched the original version of this movie twice: when it came out in the theaters and when I received it on DVD as a gift (and even then, I fast-forward through a lot of it). It has been a very long time since I watched Indy 4.

STORY/PLOT/REVISIONS:

I do not want to re-hash the long list of cuts from the Cut list, so I am only going to highlight some of the areas of the edit.

Before I proceed further, I want to comment that I could tell from the very beginning of the edit, that a great deal of thought, time, work and skill went into the creation of this FE. Indy 4 is not an easy project to tackle.

I thoroughly enjoyed the “Trinity and Beyond” opening and the use of William Stromberg’s score from it – I am a big fan of these documentaries and Stromberg’s scores. Not just because of that bias of mine, but because of the great choice to use this footage, narration and music as an opener that it definitely sets up the tone of the movie as occurring during the height of the Cold war and the “Red Scare” in America. Wraith skillfully transitions from the B&W documentary footage (no widescreen) to the color and widescreen of the actual movie. Excellent!

I like that this edit begins at the point of the Soviet Army at the base (no more stupid car chase with the American teenagers).
The shorter version of the warehouse scene definitely works for me completely – gone is a lot of the cheesy lines and the bloat – this scene moves along quicker than the original and, to me, is much more tightly paced.

I am very happy with how Wraith handles the meeting of Indy and Mutt – not as stereotypically antagonistic than the original and makes their bonding later in the movie much more believable.

Gone is the bloat/overall silliness of the motorcycle chase through the college (thank you for removing the entire library scene, thank you!). I never really warmed up to this scene until this edit.

The working out of the puzzle Ox leaves for Indy, the travel to and discovery of Ox’s cell moves along much, much better – less bloat/more engaging and without losing anything of the plot.

Almost every overly-long scene has been re-cut to make them tighter and more interesting – bravo on all points!

For me, there might have been one or two cheesy one-liners/looks that could have been removed – but since all the really annoying areas were taken care of, I am happy whit what remained.

One scene that I sooooooo desperately wanted to be gone is the “refrigerator scene”. I hate it in the original and I hate it here. I have thought long and hard on how it can be removed successfully without losing continuity, but I haven’t come up with any ideas that work would well or at all. So, I guess I can’t fault Wraith for leaving it in. The scene itself is not essential, but the scenes following it are: i.e. – the scene with Indy and the FBI, the scene at Indy’s school, his firing, etc etc. I am not happy with this scene and never will be. :-(

Wraith successfully and skilfully pares down the bloat of all the major scenes – all of which the originals always annoyed me.

To quote: ” … plus no mushroom cloud and LOTS more … no ants, no prairie dogs, no monkeys, no scorpions etc…” all of which are NOT missed and makes the movie that much more enjoyable/watchable/tighter.

This edit shows Indy in his best form – smart, humorous, serious, capable and adventurous. It is very tight story-line wise and makes Indy 4 an adventure. I believe that Wraith achieved his intention of making this “tonally” more in line with the way Raiders of the Lost Ark is.
All the characters have been made a bit more serious and it works.

The added FX are noticeable, but NOT in a way they seem out of place – but in the way that seem to enhance what I am watching. Good job!

(Two of the people I watched this with didn’t realize there were added FX; that really is one intention of an FE, right? To do something that changes the original but seems like the original?)

I absolutely liked how the spacecraft/inter-dimensional craft scene is handled. Gone is the scene of it lifting off. Wraith handles this well, good cuts to the water flooding the area. I had always thought that if it was an inter-dimensional craft, then why did it have to lift off and fly to leave? Again, Wraith trims down all the bloat/fat of all these scenes from entering the temple to Indy and gang escaping.

TECHNICAL:

VIDEO: First, I understand what Wraith did to the “look” of the movie and it pays off. It’s just that the overall quality of the edit suffers since it has been released as an mp4. I would have preferred a SL or DL release. I put this on a USB drive and plugged it into my LG BD590 blu-ray player and watched it on an OLED TV. Looked okay, but not great (Again, not because of the intentionally re-done look of the movie).

I did think the choice of making it look like a movie from the time of Indy 1 was a great choice and I appreciated it. Some viewers may be put off by this – because so many people are too used to the look of movies of today.

AUDIO: I guess this is where the edit comes up short for me. Maybe because it is an mp4, but I had to turn up the volume on my amp much higher than I ever usually have to, to really get a good listen of the movie. The audio is very consistent – i.e. the dialogue/music/sound effects are all even – the overall volume is very low. I watch a lot of video as an mp4 through my TV and/or my blu-ray player and I don’t see this with those movies. However, all of a sudden, near the time the group is about to enter the inter-dimensional temple/craft, the audio seemed to double in strength – causing me to turn down the volume to a lower level (still higher than I usually do, however). If I am the only one experiencing this, please let me know – I will retract this part of my review.

EDITS/CUTS/MISCELLANEOUS:

Overall, great cuts, no hard audio edits that I noticed and no what I call “flashing”. it’s a term I use to explain when an cut in a scene has been made, but one or two frames might be left form the cut and causes a quick “flash” when the cut/transition happens. (Not sure if this is a correct term/phenomenon, but I have seen it occur in other FEs). There are a couple of very minor hard scene cuts but I forgive them as they almost occur that way in the original DVD (I went back to compare). The one I most noticed is when Irina Spalko is about to reconnect the skull back onto the skeleton – a couple of very abrupt scene cuts happen – no a huge deal, but it is noticeable.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This is my go-to version of Indy 4, hands down. I watched this with some friends of mine, while our wives were out doing there thing, and all 4 of us were amazed that we were over an hour into it before we knew. Despite some things remaining in this edit that I would have liked to see gone, minor things, it is an outstanding edit and well worth the time!

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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Enjoyment 
 
9.0

February 7, 2011

As Omaru1982 states, most of the in-depth technical overview has already been covered above and I have to say I couldn’t agree more that what Wraith has done here is create “the” version of Indy IV which I will now be watching and recommending to friends.

I remember when seeing it at the cinema and being so disappointed with needless silly CGI praire-dogs, Ants, shia le biouf swinging through the trees like tarzan, dodgy lines of dialogue, and the whole horrible CGI heavy ending which has the aliens actually lift off into outer space. I thought I would never see the movie again I was that disappointed.

However, after reading lots of positives about Wraith’s version, once it became available on DVD format I downloaded it and gave it a view. Suddenly the movie not only feels tighter, but more like a bona-fide Indiana Jones movie that almost stands tall with the other 3 films in the serious. Almost, but hey, you can only improve what was a barely average film so much.

The cuts are very smooth and the choices made are basically perfect. Thank you so much Wraith for giving us the “true” Indiana Jones IV that we all wanted.

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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Enjoyment 
 
9.0

February 11, 2011

Just finished and really enjoyed it. Here are some thoughts…

As soon as I heard this one was going to have color correction (color naturalization might be more fitting), I was excited to see the results. I must say that came off well. I hate this modern trend of over-saturating things. What’s wrong with normal color? Not everything has to look like it was run through a bunch of Photoshop filters. There are still some things that bug me about it, like lack of color in some places (not Wraith’s fault) and things being overly bright like light glinting off of metal (again, not Wraith’s fault). Just a little rant there. Sorry. ;)

I appreciate that this one went farther with removing certain things that Jorge’s edit didn’t, such as the ants and the UFO lift-off. It was fun watching the deleted scenes (deleted in the TRUE sense of the word, not just ‘scenes that were left out for the theatrical release’) and how they were all stuck together. Haha. Yes, the CG prairie dogs, the Tarzan/monkey stuff, the mushroom cloud, etc…were bad, but to me, the worst was when she squished that ant and the guts fell on the camera lens. So, so stupid! You’re not supposed to acknowledge that there’s a camera there! This is not a documentary! Again, sorry for the rant. ;)

All in all, this is THE version to watch. I know there will be at least one more, and I look forward to seeing that one as well, but this effort is hugely appreciated! It’s tight, removed unnecessary parts, and feels much less modern, over-the-top Hollywood to me, which is a very good thing.

I’m giving this one a well-deserved 9.

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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Enjoyment 
 
9.0

February 27, 2011

Wow! I needed this!
This is an excellently thought out, well executed and surgical rescue of all the potential that exists in Indiana Jones 4.

The title change is the first indication of what’s so smart about this one. “The Skull Kingdom Mystery” points out what Indiana Jones’ quest really is. He isn’t going after an object this time– he doesn’t just want a skull– he’s trying to figure out what happened to Ox, what are these skulls and what do they (the skulls themselves) want. Without this clue in the title of the release version, the release version felt like an unfocused mess because it didn’t know what it was about.

With that kind of insight applied throughout the movie, every scene has been analyzed and refocused. Now everything is pared down to its purpose and the story practically blossoms as a result. Characters now do more than function, they intrigue. I care about Mac’s betrayal for the first time. I wonder at and believe in Spalko’s commitment. I believe in Mutt’s attachment to Ox and (most important) I understand Indy’s emotions in every scene.

Losing big sequences (like the graveyard fight and the ants) keeps the powerful focus going. This isn’t just a “cut the crap” edit. This edit wants you to care about the characters and their quest– and it succeeds.

The biggest surprise to me was the ending which was such a blur of half-baked ideas in the original. The clarity in this edit meant that I was actually on the edge of my seat about what these Crystal Skulls were about and what they wanted from Indy and Ox.

I just can’t recommend this enough. I found the opening changes to be exactly the right idea (although I wish the actual title card were bigger or done in the same font as the title of Raiders). I also wish it was “Indiana Jones and the…” instead of “Dr. Jones and the…” — but I can see what the editor is going for in that. That may grow on me.

There are a couple left over goofy beats that I wish we could have lost– like when Indy says “ouch” after Spalko lightly taps his cheeks or when Mac finishes the points of the compass for Indy– but in the original these awful moments seemed to never end. Now they stand out as the only moments that don’t work.

So, Wraith, you have my eternal gratitude and I give this a very impressed 9/10.

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(Updated: September 02, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
9.0
Enjoyment 
 
9.0

February 27, 2011

Much has been said about this edit already so I won’t write a thesis this time. What I did want to say is that having loved Raiders the theatrical Indy 4 to me lost the spirit of the adventure. Wraith has provided an excellent serving of true Indy for me. Properly removing elements of madness, ants, UFO, prairie dogs, etc. etc. (MUST watch the deleted scenes). Along with what was clearly a painstaking exercise in colour tone correction makes this the only Indy 4 version to watch in my opinion and with a decent running time.

An easy 9.

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