Disney owns so many of our favorite franchises and that makes it hard for some to overlook some of what has been done to other franchises, that they either rightfully or wrongly feel were ruined. However, it is worth letting the movie and the director speak for themselves through their work and see just what the final film of the Harrison Ford-led Indiana Jones looks like.
WARNING: Spoilers in our review!
Daredevil archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary dial that can change the course of history. Accompanied by his goddaughter, he soon finds himself squaring off against Jürgen Voller, a former Nazi who works for NASA.
There are a lot of expectations from fans over multiple generations going into the 5th film of the franchise. The last film, Crystal Skull, was widely considered the worst of the franchise and just a bad film in general for a number of reasons. The reliance on heavy CGI made for a weaker sense of grounded reality than the other Indiana Jones films offered. The Dial Of Destiny is set after the defeat of the Nazi’s in a time when everyone still looked for the boogie man in every corner and as Indie is going into retirement, something pulls him back in.
Seeing Harrison Ford return in the title role, one he had admitted is one of his favorites, was nice. It was also nice to see the return of others like Sallah (Rhys-Davies), and Marion (Karen Allen). Indie’s goddaughter Helena is new in this film and is played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, alongside her companion Teddy (Ethann Isidore). The vibe with Helena and Teddy is very much reminiscent of Short Round and Indie from Temple of Doom. I do feel like the directors did this intentionally as a way to set up a possible female lead future for the franchise where Helena takes on the mantle moving forward. Sadly we don’t see the level of bonding between Indie and Teddy we might have hoped for.
The franchise has always relied on historical artifacts as the basis for its theme, and that helped ground it. Even if in the end, there were supernatural elements to those artifacts that bordered a bit on the science fiction side, they never strayed too far over that line like Crystal Skull. In the 5th film, we ventured further over that line than the first 3 films did but not as far as the 5th. The artifact in question, the Antikythera, was considered the oldest and first known computer of sorts that was able to determine the alignment of planets and eclipses. However, in the film, we are led to believe that it can determine space/time anomalies that would allow someone to travel back in time.
This isn’t the first time the Nazis thought something had mystical powers, only to be proven wrong in the end. Here the artifact in question actually does what everything thinks it does, though not quite in the way Voller wanted. Here, the Antikythera allowed them to find a fixed point in space and time. If you have ever watched Doctor Who or any other heavy time travel-based science fiction, it’s a distinct term you have heard before. Basically rather than being able to pick the time and place you want to go, you can only go to one time and place. Well, that isn’t very helpful is it?
The CGI in various spots in the film was frankly terrible and took you out of the story. Whether it was a de-aged Harrison Ford with a current-age Ford voice or the janky running scenes where he refused to use a stunt double, much like Crystal Skull, the overuse was a drag on the overall success of the film. Still, the adventure overall was fun enough to feel as though it was a proper send-off to a franchise and a hero we have spent generations watching.
If I had to rank it, it would be a tie for me with Temple of Doom in 3rd for all the films. So my ranks would be as follows:
- Raiders Of The Lost Ark
- The Last Crusade
- Temple Of Doom / The Dial Of Destiny
- Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull
It is going to be sad to say goodbye to Indiana Jones as it exists today but if Hollywood has taught us anything we shouldn’t hang on forever. Otherwise, they will ruin our enjoyment of the franchise moving forward. But that being said, reinventing it as something new versus trying to overwrite what’s already been done is still a real option to bring the joy of protecting historical artifacts to a new generation. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is a fitting send off to our original tomb raider is a fitting send-off to our original tomb raider and archeologist.
Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny is in theatres Friday June 30th.