INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY – When Life is Like a Bowl of Cherries

This year’s bunch of films for the blockbuster season isn’t a huge success that it should be post-pandemic. And despite a few recent box office flops than success, fans wanting to see INDIANA JONES AND THE DIAL OF DESTINY will at least get their money’s worth of thrills. Mads Mikkelsen is delightfully nasty in this film. As Jürgen Voller, he’s out to change the past to create a future where the Nazis succeed, and our favourite hero gets caught up in his mission!

That’s because this despot wants back the Archimedes Dial. After what Indy and Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) stole it away from in many decades ago and discovering how it can change history, it needs to be locked up in a vault than displayed in a museum. This macguffin is able to find naturally forming spatial rifts and in the wrong hands, it can be used for no good. And with the right owners, well, is there anyone Indy trusts? 

In this film, I suspect there’s no one. After everything that’s happened in Jones’ life, he’s become a bitter, grumpy old man, which is a contrast to Shaw’s life–where he’s become lost in his work. Like Henry Jones Sr., he’s become obsessed with solving the riddle of the dial, and is forgetting about what’s important (family). I rather liked how these two scholars play off each other during the lengthy intro and flashback sequences. Although it’s rife with digital effects, that’s how movies are made these days! There’s many reasons why more filmmakers are using deaging and CGI for most of the hard work. Regarding the former, it’s a good thing that the technology has improved. The illusion is fairly solid.

As for Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (playing his goddaughter), Helena Shaw, the generational divide is certainly clear. The pairing is okay, but not as fun as seeing Indy with his past companions. Those past films showed how well they played together, but this latest is about how different the elder with his goddaughter are in life and philosophy. The only two that helped make a difference in Indy’s life make delightful cameos but they don’t offer much in terms of helping move the story forward. They’re present to invoke nostalgia.

John Rhys-Davies has certainly aged and I’m glad he’s still acting. He’s a wonderful character actor who does very little in this film, and I won’t speak of Indy’s wife and son, since that’s a huge spoiler. 

And as for the new faces, Helena takes getting used to, but she’s no Indiana Jones. Her partner in crime is Teddy Kumar (Ethann Isidore), who’s proving to be just as capable as Short Round. But this street urchin is very different. Since he has no morals, just wondering how he fits in is difficult to say. Just what he does during the height of the second act’s action has many fans debating about just how dark this film is.

Story-wise, this movie also has two plot holes which need to be addressed. One concerns the CIA’s involvement in the grand scheme, and the other is in regards to how much of the timeline has changed. This tale isn’t as open and shut as some fans had hoped. When writer/director James Mangold is raising a lot more questions than sunsetting the entire franchise, I suspect there’ll be expansions of the Indyverse. This filmmaker known for THE WOLVERINE and LOGAN is opening up a new chapter. While the latter is praised as a terrific last hurrah, what I see is a regurgitating of old ideas. While most of which is mostly satisfying, there’s thankfully no passing of the torch this time.

However, when thinking about the greater drama and how this series will continue under Walt Disney Studios’ ownership, that remains to be seen. As for whether Kathleen Kennedy will be involved, it’s unlikely. Although she helped produce successful films in her heyday, these days, all her choices have been questioned. Maybe being Lucasfilm president and producer is proving too much, and she’s lost her touch. That’s a shame. Like Indiana Jones, perhaps it’s time for her to retire too.

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

INDIANA JONES & THE DIAL OF DESTINY is now playing in theaters.

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