1981, 1984 and 1989 would be three years that if Archimedes could time travel, he would visit. Three classic Indiana Jones films with great story telling and excellent adventures. He might visit 2008, just to stop the airing of an abomination. Of course, the questions is – would he do the same for 2023?
A little history of Indiana Jones and me
In 2008 the studio that created Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull jumped the shark. I agree that it is important to be able to suspend disbelief for a film such as this but sometimes, you can go too far. For example, in Raiders we see the Ark of Covenant melt Nazi’s (deserving). In Temple we see Voodoo magic and the famous Kali Ma. Both of these felt like you didn’t have to suspend belief by much to accept what you were viewing. Even the Crystal Skulls I could accept but the escaping Nuclear Explosions in a fridge, an alien or the spaceship – it went too far.
I try not to apply the ‘I grew up with the originals so new sequels are going to be awful’. However, the Crystal Skulls debacle scarred me against anything new on this franchise. I did grow up watching the originals whenever they were aired on terrestrial TV and I loved every second of them. I wanted to be Indiana Jones and have adventures like he did on my family TV.
Talking of time – did you know the original trilogy all came close or passed the 2 hour mark? I was panicking that Dial of Destiny comes in at roughly 2.5 hours but in relation to the past, that’s not too far off.
SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT
So what’s the story of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – Part 1
We’ll start by saying that it’s still a small ‘jump the shark’. Enough has been done with it though to keep it enjoyable – more about this later.
CGI Indiana Jones is trying to rescue the blade that stabbed Jesus from the Nazis. Turns out it’s a fake however, what isn’t fake is part of the Archimedes dial the Nazis have. Archimedes dial is rumoured to allow time travel but no one believes this. Indie steals it back before rescuing his friend Shaw from the oncoming Nazi onslaught.
In the present, Indie is retiring from his role as professor. His son is dead from the war (unlucky Shia) and he’s divorced from Marion. He isn’t exactly happy.
The Nazi doctor he thought he killed is still alive and now after the dial. His god daughter (Shaws daughter) is also after the dial but only to pay off debts she has with an ex. Helena (god daugher) steals the dial from Indie and runs off to Marrakesh.
Marrakesh comes and goes with the dial ending up back in the hands of the Nazi Doctor. We now have a kid accomplice along for the ride but Helena knows where the map is. What map? The map to the second piece of the dial of course.
Diving for the map is a success but of course, our Nazi Doctor arrives just in time to take if off them. Helena lies about the translation but binoculars thwart their escape to the right location.
So what’s the story of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny – Part 2
Arriving in Italy we see kid accomplice abducted by the Nazi. Indie and Helena rush to where the second part of the dial is to be confronted by a surprise. Archimedes tomb has things it shouldn’t – propellors on the casket for example, or the wrist watch on his skeleton. Turns out the dial must work.
Nazi Doctor arrives, Helena and kid escape but Indie is shot and taken away. Turns out our Nazi Doctor wants to kill Hitler and take over leadership. Don’t worry though, Helena sneaks onboard the plane and kid learnt to fly using a stick at a bar table (I’m not lying).
They fly through a time fissure but it takes them back to the wrong time period. Queue Nazis shooting Romans with heavy machine guns, a plane crash and Helena and Indie meeting Archimedes himself. Indie wants to stay, Helena knocks him out.
All is right with the world, the dial is with Indie, Marion is back and Helena wants to be part of their life with Teddy the kid sidekick.
Did I enjoy it?
Going in to the film, I was horribly nervous at what might be another Crystal Skull failure. I’m pleased to say it was better on every level and yes, I enjoyed it. Like I said at the beginning of this piece, you have to be able to suspend disbelief and you absolutely can here. Yes, time travel is jumping the shark compared to the original trilogy BUT it’s only teeny tiny.
The story is enjoyable and gives the audience a proper Indiana Jones experience. You could say it was unremarkable and absolutely, some action has been lifted straight from the original trilogy. We get a good antagonist and as predictable as the story can be, it doesn’t do any stupid twists.
If age is an issue you thought would be a problem, don’t panic. There is plenty of action that Harrison Ford can still do and honestly, him being older added a little charm to it. The character we grew to love from the original trilogy is still there, he is undeniably still Indiana Jones.
As for our two other protagonists, they aren’t the worst ever. Helena is an interesting addition however the gambler / ex-lover felt very ‘The Mummy 3’. We also got Teddy, the kid accomplice to Helena. Not horribly annoying and felt believable on screen.
Were their any problems?
Of course there was, probably a lot more than even I picked up. These were the ones that were most noticable.
CGI India Jones was VERY uncanny valley. There were points that it looked incredibly good but then you notice the eyes and skin not looking entirely real.. I don’t deny it was VERY clever but you always get a somewhat ‘ick’ feeling when watching it too closely.
Archimedes wearing a watch and the tomb having propellors modelled on it wasn’t an awful idea, it just felt very silly. It offered a little foreshadowing about what was going to happen but I don’t really think it was needed.
The biggest issue is after they time travel. We get minutes of their bomber gunning down Roman ships and soldiers. How would you explain why these bodies are full of lead when they are found later in life? The same goes for the crashed bomber, not only has it left Nazi uniforms in the past but also modern technology. The easiest fix would have been a 30 second speech from Archimedes and Indie, something like.. “You must destroy everything we have done or left” and “Please destroy the dial, time travel is bad” etc..
Time wise, 2.5 hours felt a little long. Personally, I would have got rid of all the ‘ex-lover’ moments for Helena and saved maybe 20 minutes. What did surprise me was the original trilogy all coming in at around 2 hours, they never felt that long.
Should you see it?
Whether you are a die hard fan of Indiana Jones or not, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see this in the cinema. It’s an enjoyable romp that is well paced and definitely not a numb bum film. It isn’t a masterpiece but does it really need to be? It’s of my opinion that the trilogy can finally become a quartet and we can all forget about Aliens.
More film pieces can be found here.
The IMDB page for it can be found here.