Last week saw the release of what is said to be the final Indiana Jones film, at least with Harrison Ford playing the character (I think the jury's out on whether Disney/Lucasfilm will go ahead with some form of prequel series on Disney+). Understandably, the last outing back in 2007 was met at first with excitement then slowly turned into a bitter taste in the audience's mouths as the plot slowly marched towards... aliens. But on the day where it's being reported that Dial of Destiny is struggling at the box office, I'm here to fly a flag to encourage you to give it a go.
"But Sam, come on! Aliens?! You're gonna give them a pass?!", I hear you cry.
I'm with you on the general opinion on Crystal Skulls. There are a few good moments but overall it was a piss-poor film so I approached this one with some trepidation but I have to admit, I found myself intrigued, wondering where they were going to take things next so last week, I booked myself a ticket at the local independent cinema to give it a chance. And I'm glad I did!
This film certainly isn't perfect, let me get that out of the way. I'm not here to convince you that seeing Indy 5 will resolve all your fan-hurts from Crystal Skulls. Having said that, this film does have a classic Indy feel to it and though I've heard some people say the film had pacing issues for them, I didn't feel it myself. Not on this first viewing at least. Sure there were quiet moments here and there but I felt they were still driving the plot forward and the action/chase sequences gave me Last Crusade vibes, for sure.
Though I'm not keen on digital de-aging being used all the time in films from now on, I have to admit the work done for the opening sequence is impressive. At first, I felt it was slightly obvious but I'm not sure whether that's just because I knew digtal de-aging was at work. After a few minutes, I wasn't consciously thinking about it.
There's more character work going on in this one. Crystal Skulls sees Indy finding out he's a father and gets back with Marion, the latter maybe feels a bit contrived? Crystal Skulls doesn't start with any hint that Indy is looking for a family or anything, it just sort of happens. So when he ends up getting married, it sort of makes sense but also feels like a bit of a cop out, at least to me.
In Dial of Destiny, they set up a few things which allow for a bit more of an emotional pay-off later in the film so it feels like it makes sense and is a bit more earned. When you get to the final act, the work has been done to explain Indy's perspective and choices.
I know lots of people are wary. Disney's not had a great run of putting out films for existing franchises but I urge you to give this one a go. The problem I'm seeing on the internet is people not even willing to give it a chance, which leads to poor box office returns which will inevitably feed the narrative of "it must be shit, it didn't do well".
I really do encourage people to go see this if they can. I think it's a relatively safe bet. Without posting any spoilers, all I'll say is there's no sign of aliens, "big damn ants" or monkeys who can inexplicably distinguish the good-guys from the bad.