Travis McClain’s review published on Letterboxd:
When I audited my DVD & Blu-ray library over the last couple years, one thing I skipped was my Two-Disc Special Edition DVD of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, largely because I now have it in the Blu-ray set with the other three Indy movies. Why keep the DVD? Simple: Special Features that weren't ported over directly to the Blu-ray box set. Plus, it's in a rather spiffy looking Steelbook, so there's that.
Embarrassingly enough, I've kept the DVD on the basis of its Special Features...and never once watched any of them. Staring at the empty space in the Last Watched column in DVD Profiler prompted me to rectify that. Several of my notes are just whatever I learned from that bit that I found interesting.
"The Return of a Legend" (17:37) ****
Steven Spielberg nixed Lucas's "Flying Saucers" idea when Independence Day came out and he felt they couldn't rival what Roland Emmerich had done with that movie. That's right: Independence Day was the movie that Spielberg felt he couldn't top.
"Pre-Production" (11:47) ***
Spielberg's homework for Shia LaBouef consisted of Blackboard Jungle, Rebel Without a Cause, and The Wild One.
Production Diary: Making "Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (1:20:11) ***
*Shooting Begins: New Mexico (14:18) ***
Thing I learned: They shot under title Genre to try to maintain a low profile.
*Back to School: New Haven, Connecticut (10:16) ***
The student that they crash the motorcycle next to in the library is Tom Hanks's son.
*Welcome to the Jungle: Hilo, Hawaii (6:24) **
*On-Set Action (27:21) ***
Igor Jijikine was a Cirque du Soleil acrobat catcher. Also, they shot the snake in the quicksand scene using a real 13' python that eats other snakes.
*Exploring Akator (14:24) ***
One of the tiles in the Akator artifact room has C-3PO and R2-D2.
*Wrapping Up! (7:29)
Harrison Ford helped pick out the appropriate aircraft.
Warrior Makeup (5:37) ***
The Crystal Skulls (10:13) ****
I didn't really learn anything here that I hadn't read about or heard about back in 2008 when the movie was first released, but I'm genuinely fascinated by both the mythology of the real life crystal skulls and the creation of their cinematic incarnations here. The props people did a fantastic job with those.
Iconic Props (10:04) ****
Marian mailed letter to Mutt at 201 N. Dearborn St. in Chicago. One of the props in the Nevada warehouse is a replica of Moses's staff in The Ten Commandments. They freeze-framed the movie for reference.
The Effects of Indy (22:44) **
Nuclear explosion was a shotgun blast to the model set. Most of the rest of this piece focused on CGI. Digital effects can sometimes be cool, but watching someone explain them will only ever be boring.
Adventures in Post-Production (12:47) ****
Spielberg presented John Williams with an Indy hat. John Williams is a badass.
Closing: Team Indy (3:45) **
Just a quick montage of key cast and crew members. It's a nice enough parting thought to wrap up the making-of content, but is pretty bland on its own.
*Area 51 Escape (3:54) **
*Jungle Chase (5:50) **
*Ants Attack (4:32) **
Pre-Viz is generally only interesting for a minute or two and then I get bored. What I think I realized while watching these three action sequences back-to-back-to-back is that a key problem with the movie is that as it progressed, its action pieces became increasingly too cute. Area 51 Escape is taut and exciting; Jungle Chase is like watching Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam carry on for six minutes. Ants Attack is just stupid. I didn't mind it so much in the film, but seeing it broken down in this formative stage exposes just how stupid it is.
*The Art Department
-The Adventure Begins *
-Cemetery and Jungle *
*Stan Winston Studio *½
-Corpses, Skeletons & Mummies *
-Aliens & Crystal Skulls **
*Production Photographs *
*Behind-the-Scenes Photographs *
There's no getting around it: I hate galleries. Hate them. They're not just boring, they're tedious. The closest to not hating one of these subsets that I got was Aliens & Crystal Skulls, just because I'm so enamored with the design of the interdimensional beings. I couldn't bring myself to give even that the three-star average rating because if I had a choice, I wouldn't have had a gallery to scroll through in the first place.
*Theatrical Trailer 2 (1:48) ***
*Theatrical Trailer 3 (1:51) ****
*Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Action Hero (1:08) **
Where's Theatrical Trailer 1? 2 is okay; 3 was the one that probably piqued my interest the most in 2008 and looks the coolest today. The Ultimate Action Hero is a non-anamorphic ad for the individual releases of the first three movies. It's a rather ordinary, generic kind of advertising. I docked it one star for being non-anamorphic.
LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures Game X-Box 360 Demo
This is only accessible on an X-Box 360, which I have never owned. I have, however, played through the entire game itself on the Wii and scored 100%, making this one of the very few games I can boast of having beaten.
In the end, I can't say there's anything in the 3:13:48 cumulative run time of all these Special Features that compel me to keep this DVD in my library. I don't know if I'll part with it immediately, though, if only because I've also kept The Adventures of Indiana Jones DVD box set for its bonus content, too, and the completist in me would be annoyed to not have the stuff here at my disposal, even knowing I'm highly unlikely to ever revisit it.
Also, that Steelbook really is spiffy.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Re-Ranked on My Flickchart (#279/1715)
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > The Crow → #279
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull < Silent Hill → #430
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull < Superman III → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > My Super Ex-Girlfriend → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > The Devil and Daniel Webster → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > The Great Mouse Detective → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > John Carter → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > Superman Returns → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull > The Nightmare Before Christmas → #644
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was re-ranked on my Flickchart to #644/1715