Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (2023)- Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)

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The lack of a coherent plot and action in “The Dial of Destiny” brings Indiana Jones to a frustrating and disappointing end. 


Film Summary

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“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is the last entry for Harrison Ford’s title character and maybe the end to a franchise that’s been running for 40 years. That is, if Disney is smart, they’d end it. Indiana Jones influenced how the public sees tales of adventure and blockbuster movies, and thanks to Disneyland’s ride, Indiana Jones has never left the public eye. While the last sequel was mocked for a far-fetching plot involving aliens and for its action hero being in his 60s, a sequel arrives 14 years later.

After years of production delays, writer and director shifts, and an aging movie star, it’s a miracle “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” was made. Unfortunately, it seems no one discussed if it should be made. The lack of a coherent plot and action in “The Dial of Destiny” brings Indiana Jones to a frustrating and disappointing end.

Indiana Jones starts where the first one began: fighting Nazis. The first 20–30 minutes are dedicated to an action sequence that gives context to the coveted Dial of Archimedes. While this is all a flashback with an uncanny portrayal of Harrison Ford’s CGI face, we learn that Nazi villain Jürgen Voller (Mads Mikkelsen) and Indiana Jones have a history and that Voller has wanted to find this dial because he believes it can turn back time.

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The film then takes us to present-day 1969. Indiana Jones is now in his 70s, lives alone, and is about to retire as a professor. Just when he thinks his days of adventure are over, his goddaughter Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) asks about the dial that Indy now keeps. Yet Voller’s henchmen are hunting them down in search of the dial too. The quest for both halves of Archimedes’ dial takes Indi, Helena, Voller, and his henchmen all over the world in a race to see who will be able to travel through time.

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” flirts with a story about loss, regret, and being able to change the past. Yet the film barely develops Indy’s personal struggle, and other character motivations are unclear or changed to serve the ridiculous plot. Original creator George Lucas once warned about including time travel in an Indiana Jones movie, yet with unappealing CGI, disappointing character actions, and flat action sequences, time travel is precisely what takes place in an unsatisfying end.

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Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Indiana Jones

Dr. Henry Jones is an archeologist and adventurer who seeks long-lost historical items and gives them to museums. Now in his 70s, Indiana Jones lives alone, having lost his son in the Vietnam War and his wife in a separation. Indiana Jones has no love or care to give, yet he finds himself pulled into one last adventure.

Helena Shaw

Helena can talk, scheme, or fight out of any tight situation. She claims her quest for lost treasures is all for money, yet her father was an archeologist and friend of Indy’s who was also obsessed with the dial.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Fleabag.”

Jürgen Voller

Voller is a Nazi who has been searching for the dial for decades. He seeks the dial to turn back time and ensure a victory for the Nazis.

  • The actor is also known for their role in “Hannibal,” “Casino Royale,” and “The Hunt.”

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Review

Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive) 

Highlights

Terrific Costuming, Set Design, and Score Keep Us Entertained And Send Us Back Through Time

Composer John Williams has been making music for Indiana Jones movies for 40 years, and his energetic score is the most welcome nostalgia felt throughout the new film. While Williams’ score takes us back to feeling like children watching the first Indiana Jones movie, the costuming, and set design give us a colorful glimpse into the 1960s and different lands.

Low Points

Flat Action Sequences

One immediate difference and severe disappointment from “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is the lack of creative action staging. Unlike previous installments, the blocking and camera movements show little to no flare. While there is plenty of action, there’s no memorable shot or staging within the action. Spielberg is known for choosing inventive angles with fluid movements and playful staging in his stories. Here, we have quick cuts of car chases and shootouts that blend in with any other blockbuster film.

On The Fence

Distracting CGI

“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” is an incredibly expensive film; an unfortunate portion of that budget goes to CGI, which takes the viewer out of the film. The most significant and discussed special effects scene is the opening of a young Indiana Jones. The CGI looks and moves like Harrison Ford, but there’s a special shine and stiffness to this effect that’s distracting and still brings special attention to the CGI itself rather than the dialogue or story taking place.

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Inconsistent Character Motivations

The audience only learns why Voller wishes to go back in time in the last 40 minutes of the movie. The cronies shoot some victims and hold others hostage for no sensible reason but to serve the plot. Indiana Jones repeats that the mystical artifact should belong in a museum until taking a last-act shift into wanting to stay in the past and ruin the course of history. While the very ending of “Dial of Destiny” is sweet and touching, how we got to this ending requires leaving your brain outside the theater.

General Information

Director(s) James Mangold
Screenplay By Jez Butterworth, John-Henry Butterworth, David Koepp, and James Mangold
Based On “Raiders of the Lost Ark” by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman
Date Released (In Theaters) June 30, 2023
Genre(s) Adventure
Film Length 2 Hours, 34  Minutes
Content Rating Rated PG-13
Noted Characters and Cast
Indiana Jones Harrison Ford
Helena Shaw Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Jürgen Voller Mads Mikkelsen

Collected Quote(s)

“Give’em hell, Indiana Jones!”

Recommendations

If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens
  2. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  3. RRR

Also, check our movies page for more recommendations and our latest movie reviews.

FAQs

What Is “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” Rated And Why?

Indiana Jones is rated PG-13 for perilous action and violence throughout the film.

Where Can I Watch “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny?”

Currently only in theaters, but you can see previous Indiana Jones movies now on Disney Plus.


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