Movie review: The Dial of Destiny

Indiana Jones 5

My wife and I caught a midweek matinee of the movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny at the Madison Theatre in Albany in mid-July. It was…only OK.

I saw the Raiders of the Lost Ark back in 1981, which I liked quite a bit. Then I saw the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), which I loved, not only for the comedic riffs between Indy and his dad (Sean Connery) but also taking a leap of faith. But I’ve never seen film two (Temple of Doom) or four (Kingdom of the Crystal Skull).

The new movie starts back in World War II, as Indy and his colleague Basil Shaw are trying to keep a device that can change the course of history out of Nazi hands. But Harrison Ford looks oddly young, or young oddly. It’s the use of AI, which broadly worked, but I found it a tad creepy.

Fast forward to 1969, with Indy as a majorly ineffective professor. But he’s retiring. A young woman joins him afterward, who turns out to be his goddaughter Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), with a hidden agenda.


Lots of breathless chases on three continents ensue. The good part is that these were generally technically fine. The not-so-good part was that, in toto, they went on too long without enough of a point. As one reviewer noted, director James “Mangold can’t find the visual gags in the setups. There’s no joy in the chase.”  

One of the villains was a black woman named Mason (Shaunette Renée Wilson) with a classic ‘fro who was presumably in charge of the thugs.  The point of this character was lost on me. 

Conversely, I liked Teddy (Ethann Isidore), Helena’s very young associate. The hubris of time travel and the pseudoscience involved worked for me.  Indy complaining about Father Time was believable. I And the ending, I loved.  

Still, it felt as though the movie was coasting on nostalgia. A positive review notes that the film “lacks the effervescent spark that made the series so special.”

I’m not sorry I went, but I certainly wouldn’t want to see it again.

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