Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny Movie Review

August 15, 2023

History: it’s 1969, baybeeee! It’s time for miniskirts, astronauts and the retirement of Professor Indiana Jones! Yes, the old adventurer hangs up his hat to enjoy his golden years. Or something like that. But then Indy’s goddaughter, Helena (aka Wombat), asks her for help with her Promotion, which leads her to all sorts of shenanigans. One last trick, baybeeee!

Genre in which I would place it: old-fashioned action

Release date: 2023

Remake, sequel, based on or Original: part of the Indiana Jones Franchise. The last Film in this series…?

I must say that when Spielberg created Indiana Jones, he paid to the adventure series of the mid-twentieth century. Cunning heroes, daring escapes and a lot of Rock’em, Sock’em Action. While Lost Ark and Temple of Doom had an undeniable appeal, Last Crusade began to stutter, with Crystal Skull feeling like a sad end to a once glorious series. “Why couldn’t they leave well enough alone?”I know; I said the same thing in ’89 and ’08. But I’m here to tell you that Indy is back for one last race and that it’s definitely worth it.

Dial feels the most adventurous (that’s a word) of the series, second only to Temple. Of course, the Crusade and the Skull had a lot of Action, but things seemed hollow. Little attention has been paid to the characters and the general cohesion of the plot, leaving viewers like me shrugging their shoulders and/or lamenting the state of blockbusters nowadays. Dial decided to return to what made the first two films so funny; charismatic characters and a focus on how they play each other, with the madness serving as a catalyst for each character’s personal Arc. As Dial begins, Indy is adrift, trying to figure out what’s next in her life. For him, his legendary achievements seem eternally distant and almost hollow as the world begins to rush towards advanced technology. But Phoebe Waller-Bridges Helena brings back her explorer’s blood in a burst… and of course, when it gets really crazy, he starts to get rid of boredom.

The opening scene of Dial is long, with a lot of recomposed Harrison Ford CGI (actually quite well done) and, of course, a lot of heart-in-the-throat action. The stunt work is top notch here and throughout the film. But this scene in particular makes it feel like it came out of Ark; there’s a joy of making movies here that seems to be from the latest Indy movies. It’s like everyone knows it’s the last hurrah, and the cast and crew are giving it their all. Once the Film moves to the “present” of 1969, the Action is just as intense, as the planes, trains and cars all have their full impact.

“There are a few moments when things feel a little rushed. A diving scene is exciting but feels rushed because the characters are introduced and then quickly thrown away. There is also a chase scene that is very Keystone Kops, with several groups of people coming and going. But a particular character introduction that seems quite important does not pay off; his entire group could have been cut without any influence on the plot, although the scene would have been more “James Bond Chase” than “Indy Shenanigans”. So I guess here we are. It would have been fun to see a quick win. Maybe it’s just me.

As with the other films in this series, the movietography and the art direction are absolutely impeccable. And it’s good to see – uh, to hear – the score by John Williams, who is now a character in his own right. Harrison Ford is the splashiest 80-year-old I’ve ever seen; maybe that score holds a Pepp in his crotch? I completely forgot his age when his Indy was on the screen. And the back-and-forth between Ford and Waller-Bridge seems natural, but not exactly as electric as Karen Allen. (And I’m not talking about romance here. Just chemistry on the screen. Take your thoughts out of the Roman aqueducts.)

I hope the dial will be big. Not that I want another sequel – please finish this one, y ‘all, it’s a perfect ending. But because it’s just a fun time at the movies. No ulterior motives, no deep thoughts. Just fun. And we all deserve a little fun. Go get something.

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