The going trend for many movie studios is to bring back the past. Over the last decade, we’ve seen revivals of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and more. Now, Indiana Jones returns to the big screen for the first time since Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull back in 2008. Unfortunately, the film does nothing to move the franchise forward and instead feels like a disappointing step back.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny focuses on an aging Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford), who runs into his goddaughter, Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). Together they must race to beat former Nazi scientist Dr. Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), to an artifact that could change the course of history. The premise is in line with most Indiana Jones adventures, although it does take things to the extreme in some cases.

Modern technology has not helped the franchise in any way. Crystal Skull was plagued with lackluster CG that continues to look worse with each passing year. While the original trilogy of films did use special effects in some scenes, and not all of those scenes have aged well, there was enough practical effects usage to quell any concerns about how much of the film looked real.

In Dial of Destiny, the best part of the movie is the World War II section that features digitally de-aged versions of Indy, Dr. Voller, and Basil Shaw (Toby Jones). The de-aging effects are actually pretty decent. If you didn’t know that isn’t how Harrison Ford currently looks, you probably wouldn’t pay much attention to the effects. However, the action sequences that accompany these WWII scenes are almost entirely CG, and it shows. It’s a stark contrast to the real locations and massive sets used for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

harrison ford, Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, james mangold, movie review, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Indiana Jones is a relic of the 80s, which means it primarily appeals to men in their 40s. It needs to be updated for modern times if audiences are expected to show up in droves. To do this, director James Mangold enlisted the services of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Her character of Helena is featured heavily in the film and is essentially Indy’s sidekick for the majority of the movie. Think of her as you would Sean Connery’s Henry Jones in Last Crusade.

The problem is that Helena is not anywhere near as charming or enjoyable as Henry Jones was. She’s constantly at odds with Indy, but not in an entertaining way. Indy and Henry Jones didn’t get along throughout most of Last Crusade, but the banter was part of what really made that film so enjoyable. That is not the case with Helena’s interactions with Indy in Dial of Destiny. However, if you do happen to like the character of Helena, that should increase your enjoyment of the movie.

All of the Indiana Jones films have dipped into the supernatural, and Dial of Destiny is no different. We’ve seen the Ark, and the Holy Grail, but those films still felt grounded outside of the last few scenes. Dial of Destiny takes the supernatural elements of the franchise and runs with them. It goes far beyond what any of the other films have done, and it makes the end of the movie feel off. There was a line that Indy films never crossed, but Dial of Destiny crossed that line and kept on running.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny feels like a rough copy of what’s come before. It’s a fake that definitely doesn’t belong in a museum. The action/adventure elements are there, but muted and not as entertaining. There’s a sidekick for Indy to play off of, but she’s not very likable and doesn’t have the charisma of past sidekicks. The Uncharted movie is basically Indiana Jones for modern audiences, and while the main three Indy films are far superior to Uncharted, it’s a much better modern take on the franchise than Crystal Skull or Dial of Destiny.

About Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Synopsis: Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary artifact that can change the course of history.

Director: James Mangold

Writers: Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp

Stars: Harrison Ford, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antonio Banderas, Karen Allen, John Rhys-Davies, Toby Jones, Mads Mikkelsen

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 2 Hours, 34 Minutes

Releases: June 30, 2023

harrison ford, Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, james mangold, movie review, Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.

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