The New Indiana Jones Movie Illustrates Everything Horrible About Hollywood

The New Indiana Jones Movie Illustrates Everything Horrible About Hollywood
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The New Indiana Jones Movie Illustrates Everything Horrible About Hollywood. Actually, it’s your fault, not Hollywood’s. My fault. We keep reinforcing Hollywood’s horrible decisions by purchasing tickets to things that we already know and love. And in doing so we watch as they eviscerate absolutely anything that was good in that movie originally.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the latest Indiana Jones movie actually. And truth be told – because it is inherently entrenched in my childhood, I’m not going to say a bad word about the entire franchise. (Minus the fact that not a single movie after Raiders of the Lost Ark should have been made… minus that one detail.) And if I were pushed for a ranking on the Dial of Destiny as compared to the rest of the franchise, I’d probably slot it right behind Raiders. No, really. Let’s get to talking about the Dial of Destiny and see if we can make heads or tails of the movie – and then we can talk about why this latest movie is so troublesome.

Going forward – the rest of this post is going to be filled with radioactive spoilers. Please don’t continue if you don’t want to know what happens specifically in the Dial of Destiny.

Overview of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Let’s situate this movie in the chronology of the other movies – The opening of the movie jumps way back in time to the middle of World War II. (Using some really controversial, but decent de-aging CGI) Indiana Jones and archaeologist Basil Shaw find themselves captured by Nazis while in pursuit of the legendary Lance of Longinus. Fast forward to 1969, an older and retired Jones is visited by Helena Shaw (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), Basil’s daughter, and Indie’s God Daughter, who seeks his help in researching the mysterious Archimedes’ Dial. They retrieve a piece of the Dial from the college archives, only to be attacked by Voller’s henchmen. Framed for murder and on the run, Jones navigates through a tumultuous New York City, participating in a ticker-tape parade, an anti-war protest, and eventually a way over the top horse ride escape through the subway system.

Narrowly escaping Voller’s men, Jones seeks refuge with his old friend Sallah (consider all these previous movie cameos like its a reunion concert) and eventually finds himself in Tangier. Helena, or Wombat as Indie calls her, has her own plans for the Dial, intending to auction it on the black market. Everything is all about cash for her. Framed for multiple crimes, Jones sets off on a thrilling chase across Tangier, New York City, and Greece. With the help of Helena and her sidekick Teddy, they confront Voller and his nefarious intentions to change the course of history through time travel.

Their journey leads them to the depths of the Aegean Sea, where they retrieve the “graphikos” tablet containing cryptic clues to the whereabouts of the Dial’s other half. Facing perilous encounters, including the tragic loss of their comrade Renaldo, Jones and his allies finally reach a labyrinthine cavern in Sicily. Inside, they discover the second half of Archimedes’ dial, and a modern day wrist watch inside the tomb. Wait, what? So, yeah, with that, they are able to finally understand the full potential of the Archimedes’ Dial (it can find rifts in time and space) and they also ascertain Voller’s twisted ambitions. His hope? Kill Hitler, in order to avoid all of his mistakes and failings. Yeah, long live the 3rd Reich! Anyway, as Voller plans to rewrite history, Jones and Helena have to stop him. Because, duh.

The New Indiana Jones Movie Illustrates Everything Horrible About Hollywood - a movie so devoted to its past it does nothing new.

The time split that Voller invokes ends up leading to the 212 BC Siege of Syracuse. Where? Doesn’t matter. And when the plane roars over head, the combatants assume that it’s a dragon, and they shoot it to the ground. Thankfully (/s) Jones and Helena are able to snag parachutes and make it safely to the ground… everyone else on the plane perish in the inferno. (That was simple enough!) Better yet, Archimedes actually finds Voller’s wrist watch in the wreckage (HOLY TIME CONUNDRUM BATMAN!) … and apparently, we learn that Archimedes created the Dial for the sole purpose of teleporting to the future for really good Buffalo Wild Wings. No. He did it in order to bring users from the future, back to 212 BC. And as the time slice begins to collapse, Helena decides she is definitely leaving. But Jones, who is injured, decides he wants to stay behind. I mean, what is there in the future to go back to? But Wombat, worrying that he’ll break all of time, the universe, and everything, knocks him out and hauls him back to the future (where he is met by Doc and Marty – “1.21 JIGGAWATTS!”) Waking up in his apartment, he is reunited with Helena, Teddy, Sallah, and even Marion. And with that, Indie and Marion make up. Because of course they do.

Why Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is All Wrong

Indiana Jones is critical intellectual property. That’s all he is. Think of him like a blue chip stock that pays really solid dividends (these dividends are T-shirt sales, video game adaptations, mugs, book spinoffs, DVD sales, movie streams, etc., etc.) . And the stock managers (Hollywood executives that own numerous shares of this particular stock) are desperate to not screw up the copious amounts of residual income that partner this fantastic stock. So, when these stock advisors begin thinking about a fifth (and final?) movie in the franchise, all they are thinking about is recreating the magic that was Raiders of the Lost Ark. That’s it. 100%. Nothing else matters.

If you want to see another example of this, look no further than Top Gun 2. If ever there was a protected stock, Top Gun was it. So what did they do? They manufactured the most contrived confluence of Top Gunness imaginable. They kill a key character. They give the pilots an impossible mission (can you say arcade game?) and they stack the odds against the characters.

But what are the key components of Indiana Jones we should reuse? Bring the Nazis back from the past – check. Revitalize the original threats? Check. Add a “spiritual” unexplainable component – check. Bring back the scary bugs! Check. Bring back the scary snakes? Check… and this time underwater! Have the spiritual component intervene on their behalf (similar to The Last Crusade, and the Ark), CHECK! Bring back all the old friends from the original!? Sallah and Marion, and others? Check. Dial of Destiny steals from the original so actively it might as well have been titled Raiders of the Lost Ark 2.

The New Indiana Jones Movie Illustrates Everything Horrible About Hollywood - a movie so devoted to its past it does nothing new.

Thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

I will say that the one really interesting thing happening with the movie Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s character Helena, or Wombat. The fact that she is only into the artifacts for the money is fascinating. Can we get some character development here maybe? But about half way through the movie, Indie says to Wombat, something to the effect of: “Yeah sure, you memorize all of your father’s journals in order to cash in.” And voila, her character’s arc (ark?) is taken out at the knees. And from then on we watch as they regularly put their lives on the line for each other – trust is fully restored.

But, outside of that, nothing new is happening in this film. In FACT, they worked hard to AVOID doing anything new. The amazing snake scene from the original? This time eels. The bugs from the original intro? Yes, we have them, but to a much lesser effect. It’s all been done before, but this time, we get the sense that we are seeing lots and lots of CGI, even if we can’t really tell you where all of it is… we know it’s there.

The Box Office Problems of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Here’s the problem with the entirety of the Indiana Jones IP. The Dial of Destiny requires nostalgic guys, like myself… who are all pining for reliving our youth, to turn out in droves. And we didn’t. I went solely so I could write it up. I didn’t invite anyone to go with me. And I would have been laughed at if I had. The movie just doesn’t translate.

Worse, there is nothing in this movie for a modern audience. But Waller-Bridge? Fleabag man! Wait, you are going to tell me that Fleabag viewers are going to see Phoebe in an Indiana Jones movie and say… YES! Now THAT makes sense! Let’s go from hard-cutting, fast-talking, ultra-modern, screenplay-esque television show, and now we will all go out and pay $15 to watch her in an 80’s throwback popcorn western movie? No. Not happening.

And the box office bears all this out. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost almost $300m to make… and that is before marketing. (Marketing usually costs about the same as the movie took to make… so, let’s assume $200m for marketing? The movie will need to make $600 almost to make its money back. This movie is not only the most expensive Indiana Jones movie to be made, but it is also one of the most expensive movies to make of all time. (Currently, it’s the 13th most expensive of all time.) And in the first week the film has been out it’s accumulated an estimated $170m internationally. Which could be argued is a really good opening – but you aren’t accounting for sharks in the water. Soon, Mission Impossible will be out, and soon after that? Oppenheimer. Indiana Jones will not have legs… this much is a fact.

Final Thoughts on Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Here’s to hoping that my old friend Indie won’t get completely trounced by Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Mission Impossible, but George Lucas’ story about a bull whip cracking archeologist is just feeling really really trite nowadays. I’m actually a little embarrassed I wasted this much digital ink covering such an irrelevant movie. But seeing as though it is a movie that is so coupled in my DNA I couldn’t not discuss it. But let’s hope Disney et al. will just let this IP rest now and that they won’t continue torturing us with Saturday morning cartoons and cereals anymore. What am I saying, how else are they going to make their money back without the tie-ins? Bah.

Edited by: CY