“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” Rating: 2.5/5
Indiana Jones is on his last entry…for the third time now. Will this finally be the end? It looks that way.
Here, we find Indy in a rough stage of his life. He’s on the verge of a divorce, at the end of his career, and has lost his sense of adventure. But when his goddaughter shows up with an interesting proposition, Indy must crack the whip one last time to deter an old foe from changing the course of history.
I’ll never get sick of seeing Indiana Jones don the fedora and find new trouble to get into. I will, however, ask that the adventure is warranted.
We find Indiana Jones as a character to examine in the later stages of his life. It’s an interesting new perspective on a character known for his adventuring rather than life explorations. While I prefer my Indy movies to focus on adventure, this was an interesting new way to look at him on a human level.
There are a handful of nods to previous “Indiana Jones” films which will have fans smiling, especially one in the final scene that was very touching.
I appreciated the exploration of time travel as a device to propel the villain forward. This raises the stakes for Indy to stop another Nazi villain from taking over the world. On the villain note, I thought Volmer’s motivations were interesting. The idea that a disgruntled Nazi wants to go back in time and kill Hitler to correct his mistakes is a chilling premise. This also gives Indy perspective on what he might have done differently in his life.
As usual, some of the set pieces are top notch for an adventure film of this magnitude. Harrison Ford still commits to the character even in his 80s. I’ll never get sick of his witty banter!
I hate to say it, but “Dial of Destiny” is the only Indiana Jones film where I left conflicted. Even “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is a lot of fun for me.
I went in with minimal expectations, as the trailers were underwhelming. During my rewatch of the franchise, Indiana Jones going on his global adventures brought back so many fond memories. Here, the nostalgia feels like it wants to remind the audience of other (better) movies. From creepy crawlies, quick witted dialogue, and the action sequences, each are fine…but nothing feels new.
With Disney taking over the production, “Dial of Destiny” checks the boxes of the modern blockbuster extravaganzas. Much like “Star Wars,” a series with intimate care and world building has been reduced to CGI swamped action sequences and surface-level storytelling with a newer character that just doesn’t cut it.
Helena is definitely one of the least likable characters in the franchise. Although she’s not as bad as some of the internet outrage would suggest, her attitude and demeaning nature towards Indy doesn’t make her especially sympathetic. I am happy she has a small arc towards the film’s conclusion though.
Another aspect that really took away from the experience was the lighting issues. During most of the sequences at night or under water, it was difficult to see what was going on. Not to mention most of those scenes were special effects heavy. They felt very sloppy and took me out of the film.
I also had a lingering feeling that this particular story didn’t need to be told. The filmmakers took some liberties with the happy ending Indy got in the previous film, only to undermine it with a sad depressing reality his character faces now. I’m all about character exploration, but here it felt unearned and depressing. People have criticized “Crystal Skull” for being too “out there” with the extra-terrestrial beings, but I’d argue this film is more so. The “Indiana Jones” franchise has never leaned into being realistic or keeping the stories grounded. So, I feel that time travel with a small dial is just as strange as extraterrestrial beings. In the end, I left feeling empty and unsatisfied…something I thought I’d never say after an Indy adventure. What a shame.
While “Dial of Destiny” will trigger grins amongst the fans, it’s ultimately a shell of the franchise’s earlier days. The new character’s direction will likely divide audiences, some appreciating the exploration of Indy struggling to cope with this time in his life. But some will be conflicted by the removal of his previous victory and lack of adventurous spirit.
Enjoyment levels will likely come down to the viewer and what expectations are there. “Dial of Destiny” certainly isn’t terrible, but its undeniably disappointing. I hope Indy finally gets to retire, but he deserved a better adventure to conclude his time with the generations of fans who’ve supported him.
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