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Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Review)

Directed by James Mangold and featuring the return of Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford). Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny features a few familiar and new faces such as Jürgen Volter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). The Dial of Destiny is shaping up to be to be Indiana Jones last theatrical adventure, so you may be wondering if it is a triumphant farewell or a disappointing last stand…

The opening of The Dial of Destiny is thrilling and shows a de-aged Indiana Jones in a charming flashback sequence involving an exciting train sequence. The opening has Indiana fighting of Nazis during the height of World War 2 as he attempts to steal an artifact. Not just any archeological artifact mind you, but the Holy Lance, which he tries to steal from right under the Nazis’ noses.

The motion capture has been used to effectively capture a youthful Harrison Ford in this scene and its a joy to see. The technology isn’t perfect mind you and you can tell a body double has been used for some of the more physically demanding scenes. Overall though, its a magical trip into a film that could have been. Mads Mikkelsen eats up the scene as a formidable classic Indiana Jones villain and it was a pleasure to watch…… Then the film flashes forward to current day.

Despite that initial visual treat, the Dial of Destiny crashed back down to a low, showing a defeated Indiana Jones, slumped, alone, miserable & drunk in an arm chair. Harrison Ford does his best to deliver a charming and likable Indiana Jones throughout the film but the script is trying to hammer him at every turn.

Early on in the film, one of Indiana’s University lectures is gate crashed by his God Daughter, Helena Shaw. Actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge wastes no time in making Helena one of the least likable characters’ in cinema history. She is hypocritical, rude, lecturing and selfish. It’s clear that the writers and Phoebe herself wanted to make Helena a swashbuckling hero like Indiana himself, except they forgot to make her likable.

Helena tells Indiana in this early scene that must retrieve a piece of the Dial of Destiny, which Indiana was able to swipe during the 40’s in the earlier segment of the film. Thus the call to action is answered and for all the films faults, it is a genuine pleasure to see Harrison Ford don the iconic Fedora (hat) and whip once again. A lot of the journey is enhanced by John Williams brilliant musical score; which utilized both some old and new symphonies to transport the audience away on the adventure.

It must also be said that this is a visually expensive film, you can see in almost every shot the amount of money that was sunk into this film and it looks great. It uses a lot of the signature Lucasfilm technology pioneered by George Lucas himself in order to make some of these scenes look like a million dollars. With that being said, this film was not produced by Mr Lucas or Steven Spielberg but by Kathleen Kennedy, a studio head & producer who appears to have a distaste for having strong & positive male heroes in her films (Star Wars).

Despite Ford’s best efforts, this film does try to make him a washed up, cynical and beaten down old man, a far cry from the hero of old. Ford makes the best of a number of scenes and has great comedic timing in the way that only he can. It was also great to see Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) and Mad’s Mikkelsen’s undercover Nazi persona is delightfully villainous.

Despite the initial excitement of the first Act and the thrill of seeing Harrison Ford’s return as Indiana Jones, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s deeply unlikable performance and a plot that seems to want to deconstruct Indiana leaves this film feeling like a very poor send off. If you are desperate to see this, there are some good moments’ and thrilling stunts but set your expectations low. Or do yourself a favor and bring out the old Indiana Jones trilogy and rewatch those instead.

I’d give Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
2 Fedora’s out of 5

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