A swansong or phoenix rising?

A swansong or phoenix rising?

Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny turns back the clock in a nod to the classics

A swansong or phoenix rising?

Like many others, I'm one who grew up loving the Indiana Jones franchise, especially the original trilogy. It opened my eyes to the world of adventure, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford as a famed and loved archaeologist.

However, I had doubts going into the latest instalment titled Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny because the previous film Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull from 2008 was a letdown and left a bad impression over the past 15 years. So I was concerned that The Dial Of Destiny, or the so-called final Indiana Jones film, would ruin the legacy for me.

The big question leading up to this movie was if it would be better than the last Indiana Jones. Well, while it may not be as good as the classics, but I'm happy to report that The Dial Of Destiny is better in every aspect than Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. The new film is much more in tune with attempting to recapture the series' lost spark, both in filmmaking terms and the story. This has glimmers of Indiana Jones at his best and it's a movie that's concerned with legacy, both personal and historical, and it delivers on that through emotional moments.

Mads Mikkelsen as Nazi scientist Dr Voller. 

The Dial Of Destiny, directed by James Mangold, the man behind the success of Walk The Line (2005), Logan (2017), and Ford v Ferrari (2019), took charge of this franchise for the first time from Spielberg. Indiana Jones, now facing retirement at the dawn of the space age, embarks on a new mission with his goddaughter Helena, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, in a search for an ancient artefact that is capable of channelling great power that could change the world. Also seeking the artefact is former Nazi scientist Dr Voller, played by Mads Mikkelsen, who chases Indy across the globe and has an eye on using the artefact to perform unspeakable evil.

The film begins with a 25-minute prologue featuring Harrison Ford trying to retrieve an artefact from Nazi plunderers in 1945, alongside a previously unseen colleague, Basil Shaw, played by Toby Jones. This prologue is really impressive as it's well-directed, well-staged and exciting. However, everyone will talk about the de-ageing technology used for this segment, which was my biggest issue. While it looks decent, it still doesn't work in motion pictures for me and I don't know if it ever will. Computers haven't figured out the subtleties of how a human face moves and that means you're not paying attention to good directing or amazing action sequences because you're focused on the CGI face the whole time. There is also a bit of a pacing issue, particularly when we get into the second half of the film and it kind of slows down.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny. (Photos courtesy of DISNEY)

However, Mangold does a good job focusing on the vibe of old-school Indiana Jones movies while giving us a fun adventure that has similar characteristics to Temple Of Doom meets The Last Crusade. Ford is great as always as an iconic action adventurer and he manages to deliver Indy's signature sarcastic humour. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is also strong as Helena who's energetic, quick-witted, and has a sharp mind to both challenge and assist Indy. In other words, the kind of companion that works in a movie like this. She also has a sidekick named Teddy (Ethan Isidore) that goes around adding more fun.

Overall, as a long-time fan of this franchise, I walked out of Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny pretty satisfied. Mangold does a great job of exploring the history of one of the most beloved characters in cinema in such a beautiful way. While it's clearly not the best Indiana Jones film, I'm actually glad that this is Ford's last outing and not Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, because I think The Dial Of Destiny is much closer to what made the franchise great in years past.

  • Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny
  • Starring Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas
  • Directed by James Mangold
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