A Brief History
On July 6, 2023, we sadly and gladly watched the final Harrison Ford version of Indiana Jones, this time in the blockbuster film Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth film in the exciting action series. Right off the bat, we want to tell you it is a GOOD MOVIE!
Despite disappointing reviews and weak box office, we thought the film was well made, well-acted, well written and great entertainment. Read on for a true fan’s opinion of the movie.
First of all, to prepare for this historic film (Harrison Ford is now 80 years old), we watched the entire Young Indiana Jones series and the previous four films in their chronological order (not actually the order they were released). This approach turned out to be a great way to get ready for this year’s film, and a reminder of why we like the character and the franchise so much.
Without rehashing the voluminous criticism of the film, in all fairness we will list the few things we found to be odd, inconsistent, or otherwise a bone to pick. Our observations include:
- No mention of Short Round, a major Indy buddy in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The feature of a similar young man in Dial of Destiny seems to demand some sort of homage to Short Round, a brief mention perhaps.
- In previous films, Indy is unconcerned by horrible creepy crawlie bugs, but this time around his reaction to the mandatory bug scene is to be a terrified little girl. A character inconsistency.
- Downer atmosphere about Indy’s personal life. He is divorced from Marion and his son, Mutt, is dead. He is listless at work and seems to be borderline alcoholic and merely treading water in life.
- The main villain, Jürgen Voller, played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen is well cast and an appropriate opponent (a Nazi of course), but early in the film he gets wiped off the side of a speeding train by an obstruction, something that would either instantly kill the guy or leave him horribly injured. When he reappears, there is no lingering effect from what should have been big time trauma. Likewise, when Indy is shot he should have bled to death in the many hours he goes without medical care or even first aid. No big deal, just something nitpickers might bring up.
- Another villain, a character called Mason played by Shaunette Renée Wilson, is an American secret agent of ambiguous morals, not especially likable and not especially scary, either. Not such a good character, and her role is not well defined.
- Lack of dramatic, memorable death of villain scene. No melting faces, exploding heads, or casual pulling out of a hog leg pistol to shoot a sword wielding maniac. In fact, where was Indy’s signature revolver?
- As with the revolver, Indy hardly uses his iconic whip, a tool so often and so ably used in previous films.
- The female lead, Indy’s goddaughter, Helena, played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, is a tad older than we would have liked for the character (currently 37 years old) as if she had been a baby boomer she would be a few years younger. Also, the character is inconsistently moral/immoral and not all that likable. Later on toward the end of the movie she morphs into the character we thought she should be from the start. (This is pretty picky stuff.)
- You may or may not like the ending. We will not spoil it for you, but it is a little anti-climatic for such an epic franchise, though possibly appropriate enough for characters the age of Indy and Marion.
Okay, now for more of the good stuff! Action, lots of action! Exciting fights, harrowing chase scenes and escapes, evil, torturing, murdering bad guys, and nice clear cinematography. None of that so dark you can’t make out what is happening stuff. The movie flows right along and keeps your attention for the full two and a half hour running time. (No post credit scene.) Excellent sets and scenery. Props, wardrobe, etc. are all top notch.
Some criticism of the age defying CGI to make Ford/Indy look age appropriate to 1945 has been levied, but we thought the effect was well done. Maybe not perfect, but so much better than in previous years. The movie art has truly advanced, and it does not appear that any expenses were spared in the special effects arena. No cartoonish CGI, green screen, or hokey movie tricks, all top notch to our observation.
If you watch movies with the express purpose of picking them apart, you will not enjoy any film ever made. If you want entertainment without glaring distractions caused by bad acting, bad casting, bad directing or bad cinematography, then you come to the right place if you go see Dial of Destiny. This film is a good big screen entertaining movie for almost everyone, except maybe Nazis! Our assessment is that Dial of Destiny is a worthy conclusion to the franchise started with Raiders of the Lost Ark for 40 years of movie watching pleasure. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Kauffman, Mr. Mangold and all the many people that made this franchise great!
Question for students (and subscribers): Which Indiana Jones movie is the best? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Hampton, Samuel. Uncover the Exciting Details of Indiana Jones 5: The Dial of Destiny with Our Exclusive Movie Preview. Independently published, 2023.
Rinzler, JW and Laurent Bouzereau. The Complete Making of Indiana Jones: The Definitive Story Behind All Four Films. Random House Worlds, 2008.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Dr. Zar in Ashland, Ohio, was taken by Dr. Zar’s mother for the purpose of accompanying this review by Dr. Zar’s father of the film being promoted at the restaurant in which the photograph was taken in 2023.