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‘Raiders’ Blu-ray upgrade earns individual release in time for Christmas

Published: Thursday, Dec. 19 2013 3:20 p.m. MST

Harrison Ford and Karen Allen appear in a scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," now individually released on Blu-ray for the first time.

Paramount Home Video

The Indiana Jones films have earned individual Blu-ray releases this week, after the hi-def upgrades were released in a four-film set last year, and the 2013 films “Elysium,” “Prisoners” and “The Lone Ranger” are new to DVD and Blu-ray.

“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Paramount/Blu-ray, 1981, PG, $26.98, Blu-ray and digital versions, trailers). This release allows fans of the original Indiana Jones film (or any of the sequels) to purchase the Blu-ray upgrade without having to shell out for the box set of all four movies.

The upgrade is gorgeous and the outdoor location footage looks especially stunning. The stereo mix is also excellent. The upside with this disc is that a digital version is included for whatever device you may wish to use as a conveyance. The downside is that none of the box set's bonus features is included. But if you aren’t someone who cares about how-the-movie-was-made featurettes, this is for you.

As for the movie, I’ve reviewed it so many times for the Deseret News (starting with its theatrical release in 1981) that you can Google it in all its forms. Director Steven Spielberg is at his formidable peak, the script is a glorious mix of action and humor, and the cast is pitch perfect. Nuff said. (Each of the sequels is also available individually on Blu-ray, same price.)

“Elysium” (TriStar, 2013, R for violence and language, $30.99, DVD and digital versions, featurettes). Matt Damon is an ex-con on 2154 Earth, which is burned out, overpopulated and ruled by dictatorship. Meanwhile, the wealthy and entitled live in luxury aboard a space station. Damon heads up there to balance things out, though his motivations are selfish. The plot is as old as “Metropolis” mixed with today’s immigration controversies, but Damon is great in reluctant action-hero mode and director Neil Blomkamp (“District 9”) keeps things moving. As the chief villain, Jodie Foster is surprisingly stiff and affects a weird accent. (Also on Blu-ray with more bonus features, $40.99)

“Prisoners” (Warner/Blu-ray, 2013, R for violence and language, two discs, $35.99; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; featurettes). Strong performances elevate this moody, offbeat thriller focusing on the grief-stricken father (Hugh Jackman) of an abducted 6-year-old girl and the low-key investigating detective (Jake Gyllenhaal). When Dad takes the law into his own hands and tortures the chief suspect (Paul Dano), it alarms his friends (Terrence Howard, Viola Davis) whose own daughter is also missing, and for the audience it becomes difficult to watch. (Also on DVD, $28.98)

“The Lone Ranger” (Disney/Blu-ray, 2013, PG-13, two discs, $39.99; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; deleted scene, featurettes, bloopers, trailers). Filmed partly in southern Utah — but tinted in that odd metallic gray color scheme that signals despair and makes you wonder where the sun went — this adaptation of the classic Western tale shifts its point of view toward the title character’s Indian companion Tonto (Johnny Depp) and makes the Ranger (Armie Hammer) seem wimpish and ineffectual. Bizarre, only occasionally funny and the over-the-top, computer-enhanced stunts don’t help. (Also on DVD, $29.99)

“Kick-A— 2” (Universal/Blu-ray, 2013; R for violence, language, sex, nudity; two discs, $34.98; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; extended scenes/alternate opening, audio commentary, featurettes). Sequel to the original comic-book adaptation about kids in costumes acting like superheroes but without super powers. As vulgar, bloody and tasteless as the first film. Maybe worse. (Also on DVD, $29.98)

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