Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny
Director: James Mangold
15 years after the release of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, we have the epic finale to the Indiana Jones franchise with Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. For those of you who do not know me, I am a huge fan of the original Indiana Jones films with the original 3 being some of my favourite films of all time and the 4th one being decent.
I am such a fan of this franchise that Raiders of the Lost Ark are on my top 20 movies of all-time list and is one of the movies I rewatch every year. I have dressed up as Indy for Halloween and even made a fan film as Indy when I was a young kid. This movie is the first Indiana Jones film that I have got to see in theatres and it was my most anticipated movie of 2023. So how did it do and does it feel like a worthy finale to one of the most famous characters of all time?
I will be honest seeing the reviews being quite mixed on this movie had me worried that I wasn’t going to like it. Some people loved it while others hated it and I was just trying to block it all out before stepping into the theatre. What I wanted this movie to be was a classic throwback to classic adventure movies, which Indiana Jones was the blueprint for.
My only fear was that they would take this sequel to set up a new franchise following Helena and her adventures wearing the hat. I didn’t want that, I wanted Indy to be the protagonist. Now let me clarify, I have no problem with passing off the baton from one character to another, and I have no issue with a male character having a female successor. In my mind, there are about 5 characters that I can think of that cannot be re-casted, rebooted, or in any way played by another actor.
Indiana Jones is one of those characters. Harrison Ford is Indy and vice versa the character should never be played by someone, else at least I hope not. After walking out of this movie, I will say that I was surprised by how much I did enjoy it and was happy with how it concluded the character.
To start with what I liked, I felt that Harrison Ford once again killed it as the titular Dr. Henry Jones, showing us why we love this character. I still believe that, no matter how old he has become, any time he puts on that hat he will give it his all. The energy and physicality that he is still able to portray at the age of 80 is incredible, but I completely believe it.
We see Indy at a very different stage in life as he is at the end of his career and in a time when society has become much more interested in the future than in the past. Quick side note, I wish that they had explored how Indy was feeling about this new modern perspective and how his life’s work was being tossed to the side. Back to his character, I felt that it was interesting to see him in a vulnerable state. Indiana Jones is past his prime both physically and mentally, and he just doesn’t see a point in doing anything anymore. It was fun to see him get a spark back through the events of the movie and go on one last adventure.
People seem to have very strong opinions about Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw so I guess I should talk about her. She is a character who people really seem to hate for how she treats Indy. Guess what? That’s the point, she is meant to be rude and aggravate Indy. Yeah, I was annoyed with her constantly, but I recognized that she was supposed to be this way to have a character arc later. Besides I felt it gave her a different dynamic as most of Indy’s companions (other than his dad) are quite taken or impressed by Dr. Jones.
It was interesting to see someone who didn’t have the admiration that most characters (and fans) have for Indiana Jones. I will say I felt her redemption and arc were rushed and condensed into one scene and I would have liked to see her grow more slowly throughout. Mads Mikkelsen as Voller our villain is fantastic as always with a different motivation than expected, but he really harkens back to the older Indy villains.
To talk about the story, I thought that it followed a typical Indy formula with a couple of tweaks here and there. The opening prologue shows us a classic Indiana Jones adventure taking place in World War 2 with a digitally de-aged Indy infiltrating a Nazi stronghold to find an artifact. It was really cool to see this scene, which I felt was sufficiently long and gave us that classic Indy feel.
This opening felt like what an Indiana Jones movie made in the 90s would have been. I really enjoyed and the action set us up for more to come. The object in question for this film was a historical object made by a human which I think was the right call as the interdimensional beings didn’t come across so well last time. There are some big emotional moments that hit hard, and the supernatural event that happens in each of these films was really cool and unexpected. Also once again John Williams knocked it out of the park with a fantastic score to end the series that he has scored from the beginning.
In terms of negatives, I only really have two. The visual effects could be a bit hit or miss at times and while I thought the de-aging was really well done there was a scene of Indy running on a train that looked completely animated. My only other problem can’t actually be fixed. I really enjoyed what they did with Indy’s character in this film and think they told the best story for the character at this stage in his life, but I wish we had one more Indy film with a younger Harrison Ford. They did a great job with the film, but that opening prologue just made me wish that one more Indy adventure before he got so old existed somewhere out there.
As a huge fan of this character and this series, I was quite impressed with what this film was able to do, and I look forward to watching it again. With many references and some classic Indy moments, I think this film lets our favorite archeologist rest having survived some crazy adventures. While this film may not reach the peaks of the originals I feel it is a worthy addition to the collection and ends the series where us fans can be satisfied with how the character ends his journey. Give em hell Indiana Jones!