Monday, April 22, 2024

Review: Indiana Jones Dial of Destiny Wraps Up Series Valiantly, More or Less, With Harrison Ford the Winner And Us, The Loser

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(UPDATED 5/28)

It would be easy to slag the final Indiana Jones movie. James Mangold directs. Harrison Ford returns for his fifth outing. Phoebe Waller Bridge is now his frenemy and goddaughter, the child of his old pal Basil Shaw (Toby Jones). And there’s a happy, inevitable ending.

But what did you expect? Metaverse? Actually you’ve got it. Amazingly, Indy is de-aged so that we get the whole back story. The filmmakers did a great job. Ford looks convincingly younger than he did in “Raiders.:

Mangold and Co do resolve a big issue from the 4th film : what happened to Shia LaBeouf’s Muff, Indy and Marion’s presumed son? It’s explained succinctly and is used as a plot device. Mangold is an accomplished director of “Walk the Line,” “Copland,” “The Wolverine,” etc. As he said in his press conference today. he grew up a fan of “Indiana Jones.” As such. he has brought in the final chapter, hitting all the right notes to get to the end.

A lot of people forget “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was a send up and tribute to B movie reels from the 40s and 50s. It was full of set pieces. Dial of Destiny is, too, and they’re pretty clever even when the matte-ing or CGI seems a little wonky. Scenes set in New York, in the subway, with Indy on a galloping horse, and the whole sequence on racing train. are definitely in tune with the feel of Raiders.

There are nods to the first three films which fans will love, including Indy’s hatred of snakes. There’s also a smart smart preteen, reference to Short Round from chapter 3. Waller Bridge’s “Wombat” may be a little stodgy and under developed but her character is a device, not a romance interest. The movie is about Harrison Ford, and he remains one of the last few great movie stars.

As a device even Waller Bridge is stiff. Her character is non functional. She just looks wrong for the part. How did stout little Basil produce this statuesque daughter? Plus, Waller Bridge, known for “Fleabag” isn’t funny or endearing. From the beginning she has no emotional attachment to Indy, and that bears out as the movie sludges along.

Basically, “Dial of Destiny” is just a compendium of old bits from the earlier films. That it ends at all is a blessing. Karen Allen returns as Marion (no surprise) so that she and Indy can nod off on a couch together. (Allen should have been in the movie instead of Waller Bridge.) And here’s a question for ever: Indy was with Marion in “Raiders” (and had a kid), then he was with the Kate Capshaw character, followed by the unfortunately named Allison Doody (what happened to her anyway?)

So by all means go see “Dial of Destiny” if you need to know how LucasFilm ended this mess. Or just watch the first three films and appreciate them for what they were — real magic.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
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