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Home Theater: Indiana Jones Flicks, The Matrix Reloaded

View From the Couch

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THE ADVENTURES OF INDIANA JONES (1981-1989). The three Indiana Jones films have been among the most requested titles ever since DVDs were still in their infancy, and while George Lucas continues to hold out on the Star Wars trilogy, he and co-creator Steven Spielberg have not only given this set their blessing but also were directly involved with its creation. The films themselves need no lengthy introductions: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), which made an icon of Harrison Ford as the whip-wielding adventurer, is one of the all-time greats, while Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) are above-average sequels in the best cliffhanger tradition (Crusade offers the added bonus of Sean Connery as Indy's dad, as well as the late River Phoenix as a young Indiana). Packaged as "The Complete DVD Movie Collection" (the films are not available individually), the four-DVD set throws in an extra disc consisting solely of bonus material. It's a motherlode of moviemaking information, featuring present-day interviews with practically all the principal players (on both sides of the camera), rare behind-the-scenes footage, snippets of screen tests which show Tom Selleck (Lucas' first choice) and Tim Matheson trying out for the part of Indy, and shorts on the trilogy's music, effects, sound and stuntwork. Raiders: **** / Temple of Doom: ***1/2 / Last Crusade: ***1/2 / Extras: ***1/2

THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003). With The Matrix Revolutions set for theatrical release November 5, now seems as good a time as any for Reloaded's home theater debut, providing a timely refresher course concerning the second installment in this popular techno-trilogy. For all its attributes, Matrix Version 2.0 never quite rivals Matrix Version 1.0 -- in that respect, then, it's best not to compare it to its predecessor but to its competition in the action and sci-fi fields. On that level, it's awfully hard to be disappointed by this helping, which offers some intriguing food for thought as well as a pair of smashing action sequences. Picking up pretty much where the first film left off -- that is, on a future Earth in which machines have taken over and control mankind -- this one finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) and friends facing a colorful assortment of villains as they attempt to permanently "unplug" the governing computers. This is being presented as a two-disc DVD set, but the overall effect isn't as noteworthy as that of the original Matrix DVD (a continual top seller as well as the title of choice for many showing off their home theater capabilities). Among the disappointing extras are behind-the-scenes features in which too many cast and crew members simply boast about being a part of this cultural phenomenon, a feature on the advertising tie-ins with Samsung (who cares about product placements?), and an uninspired Matrix spoof initially seen on the MTV Movie Awards; on the plus side, the picture and sound quality are aces, and the in-depth studies of the martial arts stuntwork and that exciting freeway chase are worthwhile. Movie: *** / Extras: **1/2

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