Film and drama Opinion

Dial of Destiny disappoints: Indiana Jones belongs in a museum

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Archaeologist Indiana Jones races against time to retrieve a legendary artifact that can change the course of history. Digital editor Dan Jensen checks out the latest chapter in the Indy saga.

THE FINAL SHOT of 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade saw our heroes riding off into the sunset on horseback, providing the perfect conclusion to one of the most beloved movie trilogies ever made. But then, love it or hate it, along came a new instalment in 2008 that gave the franchise a sci-fi twist and divided fans down the middle.

Now comes a new chapter in the series which sees our titular hero (played again by Harrison Ford) seeking an artifact that is coveted by one of Hitler’s former henchmen, Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen), something that will locate fissures in time and allow our villain to rewrite history. Along for the ride is Indy’s goddaughter, Helena (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), a fellow treasure hunter who is after the device for more capitalistic reasons.

The first 15 minutes of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny feel like we’re back in the ‘80s, providing an action sequence that belongs among the best bits of the original trilogy. Here, we have a de-aged Harrison Ford as a younger Indy escaping from Nazis in 1944, providing our first encounter with the dial — a device created by Archimedes to mathematically determine the location of time fissures (a fancy way of saying “time travel portals”). It’s a thrilling sequence and the de-ageing effects are flawless, but sadly, the film quickly loses steam once it’s over and we move forward to 1969.

Director and co-writer James Mangold does his best to emulate the style of former series director Steven Spielberg, but while he does a capable job, the film never hits the heights of those first three films. Thankfully, Dial of Destiny doesn’t feature aliens or anyone hiding in a refrigerator to escape a nuclear blast, but the third act does go in a direction that may leave some fans scratching their heads.

Harrison Ford is as charming as ever as the iconic Dr Henry Jones Jr, even now that he’s hit 80 years of age. As soon as he dons the fedora and grabs the whip, it’s impossible not to feel a sense of being in for a cinematic adventure. But while there are some great moments scattered throughout the film, there are also a lot of scenes where our characters eat up the run time with bland conversations and boring exposition dumps. You can tell the movie is trying to get us excited, but it just never quite achieves its goal.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a delight and probably the best part of the film. Her character provides room for a little quirkiness and is the most interesting aspect of the story. She has great chemistry with Ford and the dialogue between them is mostly entertaining.

Other supporting characters include Sallah (John Rhys-Davies), returning from the first film but really only there for the sake of nostalgia. Antonio Banderas is in the film as someone named Renaldo, although he’s entirely forgettable. Then we have a child sidekick character named Teddy, who is nowhere near as memorable or amusing as Short Round from Temple of Doom.

Mads Mikkelsen’s villain is only noteworthy because of the performance that comes with such a great actor. The character himself doesn’t exude much intimidation or reach a level of great cinematic evil, but it doesn’t matter who or what he plays — Mikkelsen is always a joy to watch.

The always-amazing John Williams returns to score Dial of Destiny and it’s no surprise that the music is one of the standout features of the film. It’s suitably rousing, emotional and fun, elevating the lowest parts of the film to something greater.

With any luck, this will be the final chapter in the series and Indy can finally hang up his hat and call it a day. Mangold has said that one of the central themes of the film is showing what a hero can do for a world that no longer holds a place for him. Unfortunately, Dial of Destiny feels more like a cash grab than a collective of filmmakers wanting to tell a great story or entertain audiences. It's not a terrible film, but it's nothing you're going to remember in a week and doesn't hold a candle to the first three films.

It sadly feels as though the cinema industry no longer has a place for Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now showing in cinemas across the country.

You can follow digital editor Dan Jensen on Twitter @DanJensenIA. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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