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July 11, 2023
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” Review: A Boring, Sad Farewell
Well, I’m behind the eight ball for this one, but I’m going to choose to view that as a good thing. It means that the entertainment journalists have all finished tripping over themselves in a vain attempt to praise this film. And boy, have they tried.
Granted, this isn't a terrible film. I wouldn’t call it "good" by any means, but it wasn’t awful either. But it is boring, which I would argue is the greater crime a movie can commit. I can laugh at a bad movie, but I can't escape a boring one.
When this movie was announced, my only thought was, “Why?” Nobody asked for this. When I heard that Spielberg would not be directing, I decided then and there I wanted no part of it. Then, I forgot about it thanks to the lack of solid marketing and my general disdain for all things Disney. And finally, the initial reviews and box office reports came out, all but confirming my initial fears.
So I said, “Screw it, let’s see if it’s as bad as everyone says it is.” And it was. Spoilers below, if you care for such things.
Good stuff first. Don’t worry, there isn’t much. The opening sequence was fun, if a bit long. The CGI de-aging on Harrison Ford was surprisingly good, at least until he spoke and an 80-year-old Ford's voice came out. Mads Mikkelsen was my favorite part of the movie by far. His character, villain Jürgen Voller, was delightful to watch. Antonio Banderas was… there… I guess? The film wasted him, but he was there.
And that’s all the praise I have for this movie. I was ready to walk out of the theater less than forty minutes in. Lucasfilm once again tears down their beloved heroes of old. The film leaves Dr. Jones a sad, lonely, old man with nothing left to live for, waiting for his younger, female counterpart to replace him. Sound familiar? Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance as Helena Shaw left much to be desired. The character had few if any, redeeming qualities, and I found her incredibly annoying. She upstages Indy at almost every turn with no explanation for her skills, never reveals her motivations, and contradicts her own character traits throughout the movie. In short: I have no clue who she is. What’s worse is the movie doesn’t seem to know either. All the same, it wants us to accept her as the new Indiana Jones without argument or protest.
Granted, I am harping on this move more than it probably deserves. It’s not Lucasfilm’s worst outing in the last few years by far, but I keep coming back to the same question: “Why?” There was no reason for this movie's creation. And audiences seem to agree. Its 2nd-weekend drop at the box office could be as high as 58% according to early estimates. That's even worse than “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s” 55% drop, making it the worst drop in the series.
The film currently has a generous 88% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a less-than-stellar 69% from critics. It has a 6.9/10 on IMDb and a Metascore of 57, the latter of which I would argue is more fair of a rating.
So, whether to watch “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is the question. If you’re looking for a nostalgia-ridden film to turn off your brain for two hours, then by all means, go see it. But if you’re looking to see Indiana Jones in action, you’d be better off putting on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “The Last Crusade” instead of watching this sad pretender.
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” Release Date: June 30, 2023. Review Date July 10, 2023. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Runtime: 154 minutes.