Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is now streaming on Disney+ as of earlier this morning, and I watched it for the first time.
So is it worth the watch?
My answer is yes, it is worth the watch, and I did like the flick.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has a ton of action and tons of nods to the previous movies and nostalgia. Simply put, you can’t go wrong with Harrison Ford. And to be honest, I didn’t mind Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Helena).
So if you are on the fence, no, it’s nowhere near as bad as what Disney and Lucasfilm did with Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, and The Last Jedi and what Disney and Kevin Feige are doing now with Marvel. It’s a fun popcorn flick and while not perfect, is definitely entertaining.
Note: Spoilers follow.
Why did it bomb at the box office?
Before I get to my thoughts below, so if the movie is decent enough, why did it bomb at the box office? The movie made only $384 million at the box office, and reportedly, it cost north of $300 million to make. So Disney probably lost $100 million or more, easily.
What I think hurt the film is the aforementioned problems with Star Wars, particularly with Kathleen Kennedy. She destroyed Star Wars with her “Force is feminine” bullshit so I think a lot of fans expected that to happen with Indiana Jones, and according to the rumors, it almost did.
Rumors actually said as much, but I think Bob Iger and James Mangold might have saved Indiana Jones. According to the rumors, there was a scene at the end of the movie where they indeed do travel back to the 1930s but a younger version of Indiana Jones sacrifices himself to save Helena. The older Indy then disappears a la Back to the Future, and Helena puts on the fedora and picks up the whip and the John Williams classic Indy music score hits, now with Helena as the new Indy. While Mangold has shot down those rumors, Williams himself did say they had “another ending to shoot and to record.”
The different ending likely was a part of a different script, the one from Jonathan Kasdan who wrote Solo and who also happened to write the one-and-done Willow series that turned out to be a huge disaster and disappointment, so it seems to fit. According to the rumors, Phoebe Waller-Bridge becoming Indy is the ending Kennedy wanted to go with, but it’s said the studio put a stop to it. Mangold revealed he gave the script a complete rewrite (probably why Kasdan has no writing credit).
So, no, Phoebe Waller-Bridge doesn’t put on the fedora and pick up the whip, it’s actually the opposite: The final shot of the flick sees Indy grab his hat, seemingly hinting at more Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones even though he said he’s done with the franchise.
The end was actually pretty good. The start of the movie reveals that he is separated from Marion, with it revealed later on because their son had died in the war. Their son only signed up for the war to spite Indy. I hoped with the time travel element a plot of the movie that the end would see Shia LeBeouf walk in the door, but nope. Instead, Helena called Marion after Indy nearly died and Karen Allen returned where it seemed like Indy and Marion got back together. Cue the scene with Indy grabbing his hat and then the John Williams music score hits.
After watching the movie and knowing about all the rumors and of course how Kathleen Kennedy is involved, I couldn’t help but think there was another version where Indy 5 was supposed to be another father-and-son movie.
You could very well replace Phoebe Waller-Bridge with Shia LeBeouf and nothing would have changed. It has been a while since I watched it but I believe in Kingdom of Crystal Skrull they set it up that Indy and his son butted heads (much like The Last Crusade with the Sean Connery Sr. Jones), well, that’s the same thing with Indy and Helena.
They could have came up with something where Indy and his son weren’t talking because of Marion’s death. Maybe there was a car accident or something and Mutt blames Indy for her death. Then Mutt learns about the Dial of Destiny and wants to bring her back and save her (Helena just wants to sell it for money).
The rest of the movie could have played out pretty much as it did, but maybe at the end, they end up saving Marion. Then Shia LeBeouf could have carried on the Indy mantle. However, I am guessing Kathleen Kennedy put the big kibosh on that (making sure to kill off the son) and instead, much like she has been doing, injected herself into Indiana Jones which is right around when she got her start (trying to prove herself to the boys club).
Some other thoughts:
I have to call out Mangold for that fight on top of the train between Indy and the Nazi dude. The Nazi dude comes at Indi with the fake Spear of Destinty but guess what? The Nazi dude happens to have a gun. So when the spear gets lost, then he decides to pull out the gun? Huh? Also, why didn’t Indy pull out his whip when the Nazi pulled out his spear? Indy only did it with the gun, I believe.
Another nitpick: I would have liked a little more from the Siege of Sicily scene particularly when the planes were flying over the battle. Both sides passed it off as if they were dragons. I think there should have at least been more of a surprised reaction or something. I think Helena says something like they scared the armies off but that didn’t seem the case at all. I also wonder if there is a version where Indy stays there and dies. I then thought maybe he would somehow relay a message through time to save his son, or if Marion had died, relayed a message to Muck to save her.
All the actors were really good. John Rhys-Davies and Tony Jones were a welcome sight. Mads Mikkelsen was a pretty good villain, a bit generic along with the others, but these are Nazis we are talking about and an obvious throwback to Raiders. Also, a cool twist that Mads was going back in time to kill Hitler because Hitler failed to win the war. A true Nazi!
I really liked the kid, Teddy, played by Ethan Isidore. He and Waller-Bridge worked well together. Also an obvious nod to Ke Huy Quan from Temple of Doom.
Regarding Phoebe Waller-Bridge, I thought they explained it well and it made sense why she butted heads with Indy. It sounded like her father went insane over the Dial of Destiny so she may have been harboring resentments toward Indy and partially blamed him. Did they even mention her mother?
I also thought the special effects looked good and that the de-aging scenes looked good. They could do an entire movie featuring a de-aged Harrison Ford.
On a final note, they didn’t screw this up as much as I thought they would. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Harrison Ford, or even Phoebe Waller-Bridge. I’m also taking an optimistic approach to the prequel series, if that ever happens.