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Movie Review – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

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After the abomination that was Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull this latest (And last?) Indiana Jones movie only needed to avoid being an abject embarrassment. Mission accomplished. I’m not saying Dial of Destiny was great, but it was mostly good. And that’s good enough.

And so, I’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes trying to come up with something positive to say about anything. All I can come up with is that the acting was pretty good. I just really want to stress that I didn’t hate this movie, because the rest of this review is going to make it sound that way.

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Harrison Ford was inspirational in this movie. Not his character, or his acting, but just getting on set and rolling with the punches to get this movie made. I know he doesn’t do his own stunts, but the dude is 80 years old and still bringing it. Here’s a man that has taken care of himself and is an inspiration to me.

Out of Character

I noticed a few times that characters did things that didn’t fit with their roles. The most obvious one is Indy giving the half of the Antikythera mechanism to Basil Shaw. How many times have we heard Indy say, “That belongs in a museum.”? But in this instance he lets a friend take an ancient relic created by one of the most famous people from antiquity and keep it in his house? That doesn’t track at all. The argument could be made that the relic was too dangerous for the public to know about, but they didn’t know that when they found the relic in the first place. It was only after a great deal of research that Basil determined it’s use. So no, Indy would have never let Basil keep it privately.

Emotionally One Dimensional

We only get to see Indy for about five minutes of screen time before he gets swept up in the action. The trouble with that is it’s hard to know where Indy is emotionally at this stage of his life. A few lines are dropped here and there in the movie, but it’s not enough for us to bond, or re-bond, with him. And that’s a problem, because it’s hard to care what happens to him in the end.

Grade: C+

Spoilers Ahead: how it should have ended

In this movie, Indy travels back in time and… Nothing. He begs to stay but then gets knocked out and we don’t even see how they managed to get back to the present. And quick aside: a Nazi soldier punches Indy in the jaw and Indy laughs it off. Then Helena punches him and… What? He’s out cold for days? Seriously?

Man, they really left a LOT on the table with this one. First, the Nazi airplane crashes on land and nothing becomes of it? There’s just a WWII bomber laying on a Sicilian beach and no record of it exists.

Here’s what I think they should have done. First, the movie needs to establish that Indy is finally content with his life. He’s together with Marion, his son is doing well and they have a good relationship. Indy feels that everything he’s done, all the adventures, and sacrifices he has made have worked out.

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Then, Indy gets involved in this Nazi plan to travel back in time. Indy ends up back in the past at the time Raiders of the Lost Ark occurs. The present day Nazi’s know that if they can tell the Nazi’s in the past exactly how long to make the staff–the one used in the map room–then they will dig in the right place and get to the ark before Indy and company can. Problem solved.

In the present, Indy tries to keep the Nazi’s from learning how to get back in time, but eventually they succeed so Indy has to go back in time with them to continue trying to stop them.

In the past, Indy is able to prevent the present day Nazi’s from interfering with the past, but then he watches his past self and realizes that he went past Marion’s tent. If past-Indy doesn’t go into that tent then he never discovers that Marion is alive, they’ll never get married and have a child. Therefore, present-day-Indy has to figure out a way to get past-Indy to go into that tent. He’s dressed as a Nazi, so he orders soldiers around to position them so that past-Indy will evade them and end up in the tent.

If it were up to me I would let the present-day-Indy sacrifice himself so that past-Indy could find Marion. The sacrifice wouldn’t be to save the world from Nazi’s. He’s already done that and ensured that the ark is out of their reach. His sacrifice would be to make sure that his past-self and Marion get together. But of course he realizes this was always the way it happened. There’s no scenario where he doesn’t sacrifice himself because that’s the type of person he is.

This is obviously a rough outline. I’ve given it about ten-minutes thought. What I think is important is to let characters make choices. They almost let Indy do that in this movie. He begged to stay in the past, but was brought back against his will and was given a happy ending. It’s just too easy. That’s not how Indiana Jones should end. I don’t know if it was the writers or producers who determined that Indy would survive, but whoever it was shouldn’t be allowed around a script again.

About The Peetimes: We have four good Peetimes for you. I think the 3rd one is the best. It’s plenty long and has no plot or character development, nor any action. The 1st Peetime is the only good early one we could find, but it contains some nostalgic scenes so try not to use it if you don’t have to.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.

Rated: (PG-13) Language | Action | Sequences of Violence | Smoking
Genres: Action, Adventure
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Director: James Mangold
Writer(s): Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp
Language: English
Country: United States


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2 responses to “Movie Review – Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”

  1. sfAlister Avatar

    I give it a similar rating, 7/10. It’s really nice and inspiring to see a geriatric Harrison Ford (he’s 81!) still kick ass and take names. However, even though the movie was LONG, just above 2.5 hours, I did feel the story a bit rushed — almost like they felt that it was past Indy’s bed time and they were eager to bring the series to conclusion. Overall, the acting was still pretty good and still really enjoyed it, even though the storyline has some obvious holes and skipped a few details.

  2. Rob Williams Avatar
    Rob Williams

    Everybody is whanging on about Harrison Ford being 81 in this film but, let’s face it, he doesn’t look it! I’m also a retired college lecturer but he looks younger and fitter than me and only 66!

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