"Indiana Jones: The Adventure Collection," a new box set released on DVD ($49.99) today, exists for one primary reason: To promote the upcoming "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull."
The people at Paramount Pictures are no dummies. The long-awaited fourth installment in the Indiana Jones saga, which arrives in theaters May 22, is a big deal to both blockbuster-movie lovers and the studio. Naturally, it makes good business sense for Paramount to issue this DVD -- which boasts a new slate of bonus features -- at a time when fans of Harrison Ford's fedora-wearing, snake-fearing hero are eager to revisit the first three movies as prep for Indy 4.
But the question all consumers must ask before plunking down that precious 50 bucks is: Do I already own the Indiana Jones collection released in 2003? If the answer is yes, then there is no reason to buy the new one. All three of the movies -- "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" -- look exactly as they did on the previous collection; none of them has been remastered since then. And while the bonus features on the newer model are decent, they don't veer anywhere near the greatness of the two-hour making-of documentary found on the first Indy DVD, which boasted tons of behind-the-scenes material and footage of other actors (Tom Selleck! Sean Young!) auditioning for the leads in "Raiders."
The latest DVDs do boast one important benefit: Each can be bought individually ($26.99) outside of the box set. So if you don't want to own a copy of "Temple of Doom" -- and really, is that such a stretch? -- you can buy "Raiders" or "Crusade" by themselves, a luxury the initial release did not allow. Each of the discs comes with three different featurettes, a look at a scene in storyboard form, photo galleries and (surprise, surprise) previews for both "Crystal Skull" and the soon-to-be-released Indiana Jones Lego videogame.
Yes, in the end, it's all about the marketing of the Indiana Jones brand. So if you're buying into the hype, do yourself a favor and spend that hard-earned cash on the box set that came first. Paramount has not removed it completely from the market, so it's still available at various online retailers and perhaps even in some of those old-fashioned brick-and-mortar stores.
Best Bonus Point: My favorite extra on the new set is "The Melting Face!," a featurette that reveals how the filmmakers made one of the Nazis literally dissolve when the Ark of the Covenant is opened in "Raiders." Let's just say that gelatin and heat lamps were definitely involved.
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PHOTOS: 'The Indiana Jones Adventure Collection' -- Paramount Home Entertainment; 'The Great Debaters' -- The Weinstein Co.