Kate Rice


I finally saw Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. To say I have conflicting feelings is an understatement. There are things that worked for me, and things that really didn’t. The story was fairly good; the direction? Hit and miss — James Mangold is no Steven Spielberg. Instead of rehashing the plot, check out the trailer, and some of my thoughts on what should have been summer’s biggest blockbuster…

YouTube video

“Youthening” Indy for the first chunk of the movie is well done, features-wise, but while he looks like a young Indiana Jones/Harrison Ford, his facial expressions lack soul. Come on, movie-makers, just because you can do something…

There were a lot of sequences in the movie where we’re asked to suspend disbelief. I’m cool with most of it. EXCEPT Indy’s declaration that the “smell” they detected toward the end of the flick was methane gas. Really? He can smell an odorless, colorless gas? Also, there’s a bit with one of the bad guys in the beginning of the movie that’s never explained (like, how he survived what looked like a death blow, but whatever…).

I really liked the first scene in Indiana’s cramped New York apartment in 1969. And I noticed a few things on my second viewing that I’d missed the first time ‘round. (Yes, I saw this movie twice. I actually got more out of it knowing what was coming.) Harrison Ford as an aging Indiana Jones is what makes this movie worthwhile. He’s still smart, but he’s not able to dodge swift boulders in a single bound. Life’s done him dirty, and we see that in the man he’s become. He’s tired, and he’s sad, and he’s just plain done — until one last adventure ensnares him, thanks to Goddaughter (and fellow adventurer) Helena’s carelessness. 

Which leads us to Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Helena Shaw/Wombat. While I did eventually warm up (somewhat) to the character, we’ve never heard of her before! If we’re expected to care about her because of her connection to Indy, we need more than one short flashback scene to really achieve that goal. As for Helena’s protégée Teddy (Ethann Isidore), I liked him well enough, but again, if we’re supposed to care about him because she cares about him, shouldn’t we care about her more from the start?

One early bit I really like is this: (Indy to Helena) “Why are you chasing the thing that drove your father crazy?” The “thing” being the Antikythera, or part of Archimedes’ Dial of Destiny. Nice, considering Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade dealt with finding his own father’s obsession — the Holy Grail (though luckily, Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. did not succumb to insanity.)

And what’s an Indiana Jones movie without Bad Guys? There were Nazis, most of whom were pretty much what you expect from Nazis. Mads Mikkelsen was good as stoic genius Nazi scientist Dr. Voller (stoic until he unravels, that is). Voller has several minions that are…fine. Good movie minions, I guess. But Boyd Holbrook’s Klaber? He added NOTHING to the movie, and he really irritated the crap outta me with his idiotic “Yahoo! Let’s kill ‘em all!” attitude. (Side note: I started watching Justified: City Primeval, and Boyd Holbrook’s Big Baddie in that show is fantastic! So, not the actor, but the script and direction, maybe…?)

And on to the good guys. It was great seeing John Rhys-Davies’s Sallah again, brief as it was — because unlike Helena, we actually know and care about Sallah! 

Basil Shaw (Toby Jones) was a fun character in the first bit; not sure 25 minutes of intro was enough time for us to feel the sadness and frustration Indy was supposedly feeling in that flashback scene where Bas went off the rails because of the Antikythera. (Note to writers: having your hero call someone by a nickname is not enough to create a connection between the audience and said pal.)

Antonio Banderas’s sailor/diver Renaldo was a good character — and honestly, the time spent on his boat was some of the most compelling for me. There’s a scene between Indy and Helena, where she asks if he could go back in time, what would he do? His answer is heartbreaking, and Harrison Ford sells that scene. 

Karen Allen as Marion totally brought it! I thought she was brilliant in Raiders, horrible in Crystal Skull, and was thankfully back to being brilliant in Dial of Destiny. Her onscreen time is also brief, but absolutely worthy.

There’s so much more I could say, but instead, I’ll leave you with this. Go see Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny — and see it on the big screen at least once. And maybe plan on seeing it a second or third time to, you know, really let it sink in. It’s been in theatres for a while, so don’t wait. For all its flaws, we’ve been watching Indy for over 40 years now. Doesn’t he deserve a final hurrah?