Aside from positive reviews I sought out NJVC's Indy 4 edit mostly out of curiosity to see how well the score was replaced. Audio is always the most challenging aspect of fan editing with music sometimes difficult to isolate. However I was blown away to see how well NJVC integrated the Raiders score, simply marvellous!
With the original score, right from the opening scene you feel like your in an Indy film. Thankfully this continues as cues are carefully selected.
Cuts are seamless and with 32 minutes cut I was surprised that the film didn't feel rushed.
Highlights for me include the opening, Indy's Crystal Skull nightmare sequence (which brilliantly utilises some of the footage cut earlier in the film including the iconic shot of Indy and mushroom cloud), editing of the jungle scene which is reduced to the bare minimum and the ending which now feels more epic with the replaced score.
Nit-picks would be not seeing the new title (Return of the Crystal Skull) in the opening credits and the one shot of the flying saucer in the nightmare sequence.
This edit is more than watchable, NJVC has created an enjoyable Indy adventure!
I've been watching fanedits for about 5 years now and reading reviews in earnest on this site but I have never submitted one. Well that's changing right now as after seeing this excellent fanedit from my (I believe?) fellow Aussie compadre njvc I could no longer contain my love for the art form under cover of silence. But I digress, on to the edit...
What drew me to the edit was the score change. As someone who regularly works with audio editing software and someone who has tried (will hopefully be finished one day) to remove and alter music for fan editing purposes, I understand how incredibly difficult this can be. FX can be replaced, but dialogue generally cannot so if the music and fx are particularly dense and you're trying to isolate dialogue amongst all that you're in for some very tough work even with the top audio editing plugins at your disposal. This would have taken a very large amount of time no doubt and to my ears all the cuts were quite smooth. More to the point, the changes enhanced the film greatly on an emotional level and that's really all that matters in the end, isn't it? So very well done, mate.
I do have two very small gripes, however. First is the ant attack scene. When the bad dude is devoured in the ant hill, his screams become noticeably lower in volume until they are themselves all but 'devoured' by the music. I realise that there is probably a very good reason for this.. that you had to turn up the music to cover the original score, so it was most likely unavoidable. I suppose the only other solution would be to replace the scream. At any rate, a very minor quibble. The 2nd gripe is merely an echo of another reviewer on here and that's the somewhat excessive use of the "mystery" theme. I felt by the time we were getting near to the end of the film it had started to lose some of its effectiveness due to overuse. To my mind, the edit would actually benefit from putting a small measure of the original score back in to amend this, or simply choosing some other parts of the Raiders (or the other two films) score to work in its stead. Well, perhaps should you ever do a version 3…
I do not have the experience with video that I have with audio but after watching fan edits for some time and teaching myself some editing software I believe I have gained at least an elementary understanding. There were no noticeable hard cuts that I could detect. The new colour correction is a vast improvement (though like some others have mentioned, I would love if it could be taken further). The skull montage is a work of absolute genius!
The awful jeep on a tree scene - I really wish that was cut (I quite liked how TMBTM dealt with this in his edit). There were some other cuts that I felt were somewhat abrupt but I put that down to narrative more than editing technique. So, onto narrative…
Well, where to begin? Everybody's most offensive moments are gone, the pacing is greatly improved, and the ending is far more inline with the franchise. I even managed to get through the whole movie without my attention wandering, and for film as severely hampered as this, that's really saying something.
As is often the case with many fan edits, the film now feels a bit short (though considering how much was cut, not as much as short as you might think). Marion's character feels somewhat empty in this edit. I'm not exactly sure what you could do about this as I can't remember the original film clearly enough, but I felt she needed just a bit more screen time, a bit more of a chance for us as an audience to identify with her, and if that means putting back in some cringe-inducing dialogue that might be the lesser of two evils? The ending - though much improved - also felt a bit abrupt. Again, not sure what you could do about this exactly. Perhaps cut away to a slow shot of the mountain from earlier in the film (if there is indeed a suitable one) just to buy you a few more seconds to let the music carry the film off better? I don't know it's a tough one.
I downloaded the AVCHD. Excellent quality.
I thoroughly enjoyed this edit. It's quite amazing how much of an improvement it is from the original film. Most certainly is now my go-to version and there can be surely no higher praise for a fan edit.
Owner's replyDecember 14, 2015
Thank you for the comprehensive review! Great to get such positive feedback. Cheers, njvc
While I frequently check out what’s new in the FE community, the percentage of edits I’ll actually watch, let alone enjoy is pretty darned small.
I’ve tried to watch other Indy 4 edits and find them just as painful as the original version (which is appalling in itself.)
I watched and am reviewing the avi version.
With apologies to the editor, I usually write long involved reviews, but the thing is, when other people do that I usually just skip to the summary. So I’ll just cut to the chase:
Oh, GOD! YES! Thank you! I watched the entire film and never flinched or attempted to chew my leg off to escape the horror. Indy is a badass again and not a buffoon.
The pluses: Pitch perfect editing. I never saw the seams. I never felt like there were plot holes. I never felt like anything good or important was missing. Midway through I stopped thinking about the original version and what was missing and just enjoyed the film.
The negatives: The black levels were REALLY uneven. In some cases the blackest black was dark gray. This was emphasized by the letterbox borders which shifted with them. In the chamber of the skeletons at the end, the borders actually started flashing. Yikes.
The music… well this was both a plus and a minus. I LOVED how it improved the experience, but it was frequently too loud. Sound effects and dialog during action scenes were frequently drowned out. The action lost its weight and I frequently zoned out on the action because the music pulled me out of it.
I also wouldn’t have minded the editor stretching a bit into Indy 2 and 3′s music where appropriate. (And used a little less of the fanfare (bada da dum, bada da daaaa.) which got busted out too early and often.)
Honestly, 1/2 star movie is now a 2-1/2 star movie. But the editor gets 3-1/2 out of 4 for doing what I would have considered impossible.
Oh, and one more negative: No DVD version. I guess I’ll have to recode that myself (which at least gives me the opportunity to fix the borders).
Outstanding work njvc.
Oh, one more thing…
ALMOST nothing felt missing. I never had a problem with Mutt fencing Spalko (that I recall). Without it though Mutt never gets his ‘moment’, even though it is made clear that Spalko quirkily carries a sword, that Mutt has had fencing training and is good with a blade.
The story still works, but the pay-off is missing.
Just watched this last night and thought it was a huge improvement over the original film. I'm rather notorious for absolutely despising the original Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and none of the other fanedits have really done it for me. This one was the closest I've come to actually enjoying this movie.
I have a slight love/hate relationship with your replacing the music with the music from Raiders. One one hand, it feels nice and nostalgic to see Indy at it again with familiar tunes. On the other hand, it makes me recall the scenes the music is originally from, which can be even more of a reminder of how this movie does not live up to the originals.
I thought your edit of the Warehouse sequence was note perfect, and by far the best version of that scene I've encountered. I very much enjoyed the pace, the tone, and the way it played out. Much, much better.
There are a few times where I feel you may have edited the movie beyond what the material will allow, and they stuck out for me. For instance, removing the snake from the quicksand scene. It's great that it's gone, but it isn't really gone, it's just awkwardly cut around. Same thing goes for the truck chase later in the film. Mutt seems to appear and disappear from the particular cars, teleporting around, and the geography of the sequence becomes jumbled. Not really a deal breaker, and I don't think there was much else you could've done to accomplish your goals, but it did stick out.
My only other constructive criticism would be that sometimes the new music does not seem properly mixed with the sound effects. I'm sure that has something to do with your removal of the original music, but it's still there.
Overall though, this is the best version of Indy IV that currently exists. It runs at a brisk 90 minutes, much of the silliness of the original has been removed, and most importantly, it actually feels like an Indiana Jones movie.